Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Real Dirt on Farmer John -- Farm History

Borrowed this documentary from the San Juan Island Library and watched it this morning while boiling eggs for Easter deviled eggs and trying a new muffin recipe.

The history of Farmer John's Illinois farm kind of mirrors the history of Synergy Farm where I am working -- from a traditional dairy farm, to a commune, through a period of non-farming (Synergy was a bed-and-breakfast, Farmer John's land was simply unused), and eventually years later, to an organic and biodynamic farm, serving the local community.

I imagine folks who have been believers since the 60s and before are excited and more than a little smug. But they must also be pretty wary as "organic" filters into popular culture, as it is taken up as a marketing strategy by large corporations and loses much of the richness of its original meaning.

I want to do more study on the history of the idea and the phrase "organic" back through the writings of old Sir Albert Howard, through J.I. Rodale's How to Grow Fruits and Vegetables by the Organic Method all the way to the trendiness of the O-word today and its connection to the larger (also very en vogue) green movement.

The philosophical question of "what is organic" comes to bear so much on policy and business, and it would be so interesting to understand more about the history of the term and the movement it signifies.

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