Friday Wisdom: Eliot Coleman on Organic Farming
“The ‘problem’ with organic farming is that if it is done right, it only makes money for the farmer. It is the same with health which does not make any money for hospitals and the same with peace which does not make any money for war mongers.” – Eliot Coleman
Last night I attended a presentation by Eliot Coleman, a pioneer of the organic farming movement and author of The New Organic Grower, one of the essential handbooks for anyone doing anything related to organic farming. Because of his ingenuity, he runs a farm that produces year-round… in Maine.
The talk was informative and motivating, but it was that specific quote that really drove it all home for me.
In a lecture hall at Agro ParisTech – yes, a farm school in the heart of the French metropolis – the room was full of French farmers and aspiring farmers. The kind of questions that were posed after Coleman’s presentation were complex, clearly proof of the caliber of people that filled the room. Whether or not he used open-pollinated seeds or hybrid. What type of soil working methods he employs. Things that I, with no experience farming, are not my areas of expertise but are fuel for encouraging me to learn more.
Then someone asked the obvious: if Coleman, who had no formal agricultural training could get a successful organic farming operation off the ground and running, why don’t we see more of it on a larger scale. And there was Coleman’s answer; essentially that, while organic farming only makes money for the farmer, big business farming is, well, a business. No market for fertilizer companies, no market for all the huge machinery used on large-scale operations… the list goes on.
There’s money to be had, and when there’s money to be had, change does not come from the top down, it comes from the bottom up, people like Coleman devoted to doing the right thing, for himself, for his community and for the planet. As Gandhi once said, “be the change you want to see in the world.”