As a scientifically minded westerner, I wonder what the “1st principles” are of Korean Natural Farming (KNF). Just as physics works with time, space, and mass, chemistry with molecules and bond, biology with organisms and energy. My intuition is that the fundament of KNF in the context of western institutionalized science is Microbiology, and in particular Soil Microbiology. In short, the basic beginnings of life itself.
\ Psychosomatic Therapy
Susan Frybort from Open Passages, “Sometimes the silent Ones shed quiet tears. For those who carry the sadness of loss after weeks, months, even years have past; time will go forward. Yet because you have loved so deeply the sorrow you feel remains heavy. Allow the space for grief to stretch out it’s beauty and sing out it’s pain. To be cherished in remembrance of love’s story.
Whether about God, Goddess, or lover I think this song is beauty. Sad, Somber, Sweet, Thick. Dustin Thomas is a singer song writer from Chicago who lives in Hawaii.
In the winter of 2015, I inquired into the life of a man named Alan Chadwick. I traced his footsteps through California; visiting different gardens he helped start, and meeting people whom he influenced. Through my journey and through reading books related to Chadwick, I came to a deeper understanding of his life, philosophy, and message. This paper is an attempt to articulate and express what I learned.
Alan Chadwick is known as one of the originators of the organic movement in California that gained ground during the 1960’s. His garden projects in Santa Cruz, Green Gulch, Saratoga, and Covelo inspired a generation of Californian gardeners and farmers and changed the face of agriculture in California. Through his work, he would become known as the one of the most influential gardeners of our time. Upon inquiring into Chadwick’s life, it became apparent that he was more than just a gardener and teacher. He represented a larger message of coming back to nature and all her wisdom.
University of California, Santa Cruz
The Chadwick California story begins in 1967 at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Originally from Britain, Alan was brought to UCSC by philosophy and religious studies professor Paul Lee. Lee at that time was starting a campus garden project, and was connected to Chadwick through a mutual friend. Once at Santa Cruz, Chadwick quickly became known as an eccentric, intense, but charming character that possessed a genius for the world of plants.
He created a garden on campus where students could come to escape the grind of college life, get their hands in the soil, and get closer to nature. A charismatic teacher and expert gardener, Chadwick was perfectly cut out for his job. As time went by, Alan would acquire a brigade of apprentices, many of whom would go on to affect great change in the world. It is through them that much of the Chadwick legacy lives on.
At the time Alan arrived at UCSC, the culture of the United States was rapidly changing. The release of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962 was sparking environmental awareness like never before. DDT was being exposed as a dangerous environmental toxin, and modern industrial capitalism was coming under scrutiny.
Many students at UCSC were looking for another way; and some were lucky enough to find that alternative in Alan Chadwick. Chadwick believed in getting people reconnected with nature on a personal level. He detested the way modern agriculture used synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. He taught that nature already had everything it needed; we just needed to pay closer attention to live in harmony with it.
Chadwick’s methods were considered by many university faculties to be a step backward from the superiority of science. In a memoir about Alan’s time at UCSC entitled There is a Garden in the Mind, the author, Paul Lee, recounts that tensions were strong on campus and resistance was encountered every step of the way. Paul Lee was to soon find out that the resistance they encountered was not unique to the UC Santa Cruz campus. As time went by, Lee began to piece together a puzzle that would explain why having an organic garden on a University campus was proving so difficult to do.
A Holistic World View
Paul Lee began piecing his puzzle by inquiring into why an organic garden could so thoroughly disgruntled the scientific professorship at UCSC. He began tracing back the lineage of scientific thought, and ended up unveiling a deep-seated intellectual conflict that was present at the inception of science, and is still with us today. This conflict is rooted in differing philosophies of rational materialist science and the alternative paradigms present at that time.
In the 1700’s, the famous scientist Sir Isaac Newton was developing mathematical laws to describe natural phenomena such as gravity. The rationalization of nature was becoming a trend. In Vienna, a group of natural philosophers began the Physicalist Society, dedicated to the reduction of all phenomena to the realm of the physical. Carl Linnaeus continued the trend into the natural world through the development of taxonomy and the categorization of organisms with his book Systema Naturae. This tendency to limit human knowledge to the physical world and to seek mathematical laws to help explain it was an outgrowth of the work and orientation of even earlier philosophers and scientists, such as Bacon, Galileo and Descartes.
The famous German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was also trained in the sciences, saw materialist science as useful for the inanimate world, but insufficient for observation of the living world. Goethe thought that the rationalist categorization and scientific reductionism did not work well for living organisms. He thought they could be better understood when experienced first hand in their environment. The issues of relationship and also of context in studying any “object” were of paramount importance to him. He focused his efforts on accurately describing the qualities and phenomenology of organisms in their natural environment. What could be considered a subjective science, he developed a method for understanding the natural world in terms of color, shape, anatomy, and morphology (how organisms changed shape over time). He extended his vision of nature to develop a framework for understanding the whole natural world and mankind’s place in it.
By observing plants in terms of their qualities and essence, Goethe was seeking to save the world of the living from scientific reductionism and arbitrary species classification. His work formed the basis for a critique of materialist science and pointed toward the possibility for a more holistic way of viewing nature and the world. In many ways, Goethe’s perspective grew out of the “vitalist” (as opposed to the “physicalist”) tradition that posited that living organisms are imbued with a “life force” that can’t be reduced to the merely quantitative, and that cannot be replicated or created entirely by man alone.
It has been over 300 years since Isaac Newton, and the rational scientific paradigm has become strongly rooted in our culture. We have gained the power to change our environment, but we have lost connection with nature as a context for understanding our place in the world. By starting the UCSC garden project, Paul Lee was trying to integrate our understanding of science within a larger, older framework of natural knowledge and wisdom.
Paul Lee’s puzzle of why having an organic, experiential garden on campus was considered controversial was becoming clearer. Chadwick, like those before him, believed in different ways of knowing the world and our place in it.
Chadwick’s zeal for gardening can be traced to his past. Growing up on a large estate, his father employed twenty-three full-time gardeners and grounds keepers. Alan was able to learn gardening from them at a young age. He was also tutored by Rudolf Steiner as a child, picking up Steiner’s philosophies and becoming acquainted with biodynamic agriculture. He delved further into the world of plants the older he became. At the age of 14, he spent a summer on a farm in Germany learning the biodynamic agriculture techniques developed by Steiner. At age 16, he apprenticed at a plant nursery in England.
By the age of 21, Chadwick had decided that he wanted to do theatre. This decision caused him to be disowned by his father, and forced him to go out into the world on his own. Learning from one of the most prestigious theater schools in England, Chadwick began a professional acting career.
Later, he was to participate in WWII as the captain of a minesweeping ship in the British Navy. After the war, Alan moved back to England, and then to South Africa. There, he began gardening for large estate owners. He continued this work for a number of years until he moved to the Bahamas to work on estates there. In 1962, he moved to the United States because he believed the election of president John F. Kennedy meant a coming age of enlightenment for America.
He went to the University of California Santa Cruz in 1967, where he sank in roots and deeply affected the direction that agriculture in California would take in the coming years. Chadwick would restore to the UCSC campus what Paul Lee refers to as our “vital roots” – in other words, our deep-seated connection with nature that is always there, but up to us to acknowledge.
UCSC to Marin, then Saratoga
As an outgoing and spiritually-inclined plant genius representing the heritage of holistic thinkers before him, the University was not in his favor. The University educated students for the paradigm of the times, and therefore taught science as the sole arbiter of truth. Chadwick stood for a different, older, more intuitive approach to natural wisdom and the integrity of organic nature.
Eventually tensions surrounding Chadwick’s presence grew too large, and he had to leave. He moved on to start another garden in Marin at the Green Gulch Zen Center. The garden is still alive today, and people from all over the world still apprentice there as gardeners because of his initiative.
I visited Green Gulch, and was fortunate enough to talk with Wendy Johnson, who was one of the founders of the center and an apprentice of Alan Chadwick.
On a cold and dreary day, Wendy welcomed me into her home with warm and embracing arms that were unmistakably compassionate and kind. We sat by the fireplace and sipped tea as I began asking questions about Alan.
She explained that he was a very direct, powerful person who was sure in his ways. He did not flounder, but acted with vigilance and certitude in all his endeavors. It was clear that he left a lasting impact on her. She recounted that on his deathbed he asked her what variety of flowers she had recently planted. She responded that she had planted a hybrid commercial variety for heartiness. “Child!” Chadwick responded, rolling his eyes back with disgust. Wendy told me that this memory of disappointing him sticks with her to this day.
Being tall, handsome, and British; Wendy also explained that he got away with much more than he should have.
In There is a Garden in the Mind, Wendy Johnson tells the story of when Alan,
“Strangled and strung up a marauding blue jay whom he caught bare-handed while the brassy bird was pecking apart flats of newly sown “Ailsa Craig” tomatoes. Alan hung the murdered bird at the entrance to our peaceful Zen meditation center as a macabre and ominous warning to all transgressors of the true Garden Way.”
Chadwick’s bold personality made him a ‘force fit’ most places he went. Trained as a Shakespearean actor, he easily captured the full attention of any audience. Known for his charisma as much as his abrasiveness, Alan Chadwick embodied a spirit that was embraced by some, and rejected by others.
Paul Lee describes Chadwick as the epitome of the Greek word “thymos” or “spiritedness” which forms the basis for the name of the herb thyme. Chadwick gave a lecture in which he describes thyme as a plant connected with other worlds. Growing heartily in the rockiest of soils, thyme reaches toward the sun with abandon and possesses a scent that awakens the spirit to higher realms. Like thyme, Chadwick lived for other worlds beyond the physical.
After Green Gulch, Chadwick went to Saratoga for brief time where he started another garden at a Waldorf school. Like biodynamics, Waldorf schools were founded under the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. Not surprisingly, Alan was very successful at Saratoga, and formed an extensive network of apprentices.
Chadwick subscribed to the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner, who, in turn, subscribed to Madame Blavatsky and the theosophists for a period of time. In a sense, they all represented a reawakening of esoteric traditions in the West. Additionally, Steiner had been profoundly affected by having been given the job of editing all of Goethe’s scientific writings. Goethe’s worldview was further developed by Steiner and became an important influence in the movements he founded, such as biodynamics and Waldorf schools. In California, Chadwick represented the philosophies of a long line of spiritual thinkers before him.
In the late 1800’s a woman named Helena Blavatsky started a religion called Theosophy in New York. The Theosophists believed that all religions were describing the same truth, and that this truth could only be known on a personal level through direct experience. The theosophists sought to understand and articulate this universal, personal truth so that all might be able to access it. The idea of developing a spiritual science, as well as the instructions to practice and verify its results was something that interested the Theosophists as well as other movements that were influenced by Eastern teachings at the time.
A German man named Rudolf Steiner was the head of the German Theosophical Society for a period of time until he broke off and created his own belief system known as Anthroposophy.
Steiner is considered by many to have been clairvoyant. He wrote prolifically about spiritual reality. Like Goethe, he looked outside the rigidity of the physicalist paradigm for a more subtle, spiritual understanding of reality.
Steiner believed that spiritual reality needed to be articulated and more widely recognized by a larger audience than was the case at the time. He described what he saw in his clairvoyant visions in his many books, formulating an understanding of reality that comprised many dimensions.
Steiner applied his clairvoyant visions to the natural world, and developed his own method of farming known as biodynamic agriculture. Chadwick gardened using biodynamic techniques combined with the French Intensive method. Both these techniques stressed the interactions and relationships between the plants and their environment. The biodynamic approach views the entire farm or garden as a living organism, connected to its environment. The biodynamic method takes planetary phases, plant interactions, and vital life force principles into consideration. The French Intensive method is characterized by plant pairing and close plant spacing in raised beds that are protected during cold months.
Steiner and his counterparts represented an integral vision of life that could not be bought, sold, or quantified. In other words, they studied how all living beings relate to the world. That vision encompasses the “qualitative” and includes things like music, tastes, and feelings of like and dislike. It affirms the life force that animates us, gives us soul, and connects us to nature. Steiner could sense these connections, and was able to form his philosophies based on them. Steiner did not reject physicalism all together, seeing that it has its place, but thought that it should be brought in context of human experience, nature and the planet.
The Organic Movement
The best way to reconnect with nature is through what sustains us: food and water. By observing and adjusting our lives around the morality and ethics regarding the way we obtain food and water, I believe our culture can begin to change. For some it might mean shopping for local or organic produce. For others, it might mean having a small garden in the back yard. For others still, it might mean dedicating themselves to biodynamic gardening. Everyone will have different roles, and be at different developmental levels; but what matters is whether our culture begins to value the sacredness of life; the continually renewing gift of creation.
This organic revival is already happening, and is not unlike that of the 1960’s. The organic lifestyle is one of engaging with surroundings, being present in the moment, and embodying truth and our own selves as agents of truth. To live a life connected to earth is ultimately to live in freedom from the judgments of others about how to live. To allow the abundance of nature to set us free. The organic movement is all about how much we are willing to give to nature, all we can do is trust that it will be given back. If we can connect ourselves with nature’s deeply generous reality; we no longer fall as subject to our collective cultural delusions. Being a part of nature ourselves, it behooves us to protect it.
While the message of nature is the same, we live in different times than the 1960’s, so the methods will be different. We now live in the Internet age. Any idea can be transmitted worldwide in a matter of seconds—for free. The rapid transmission of knowledge and data via Internet will allow this change to happen faster than ever before.
One example of the advantages of rapidly dispersed information is the phenomena of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) culture. What previously took years of training, research, and some luck to obtain in knowledge can now be done immediately on the Internet. Local inventors can see the designs of others online, and share the progress they have made. Farmers can get data about their land, learn from the mistakes of other farmers, and get information on how to make their own farm equipment.
All this colludes to make a world increasingly independent of government, and dogmatic beliefs. Our small farmers can begin communicating with each other and building coalitions to protect our food from the transgressions of industrial scale farming.
As our culture begins to shift, alternative economies will continue to spring up. Over the last 10 years, the US has seen a rise in organic agriculture sales, yoga studios, spiritual retreats, etc. They all point to the conclusion-that our society is looking to move beyond the age of materialism.
As western culture begins to include science as a part of this newer holistic paradigm, we will effectively be remembering a truth that is deeply rooted in us all. Our genetic make-up yearns to return to our rightful place as stewards in the web of life. The dominance of science has confused our minds, and severed us from our sacred place in the world. The organic movement is all about remembering who we are, and guiding us back to Mother Nature, and the Earth as our home.
While I know very little of indigenous tradition or way of life, I do know that my perspective changes when I remember that an entirely different culture lived in the exact place I am standing as recent as 300 years ago. It allows me to not take this culture so seriously, ease back, and remember that the winners wrote in their own history; with convenient editing of genocide, bounty hunting, and manifest destiny conquering. While this moment is always brand new, there are somethings that do not change. While cultures may come and go, truth remains truth, written in the hearts of every man woman and child willing to ask the question: who am without the lens of the culture I was raised in?
Naomi Klein, climate and social justice activist and author voices her opinion on the state of the Ecosphere and Political Climate.
I was feeling angsty about the Amazon deforestation, and what could be done about it, so I sought out sources larger wisdom to satisfy my curiosity. My searching led me to the works of Naomi Klein and her perspective on the issue. I was relieved to hear her expand the topic to interweave it with many other topics; superficially unrelated. She mentions Brazilian President Bolsonaro under whose current rule the rates of deforestation have seen a sharp spike.
Tyson Foods recently bought JBS, Brazils largest cattle producer. This comes with the knowledge that 17% of the Brazilian Amazon has been cleared to graze cattle and produce soy.
These companies are not aware of what forests are being destroyed to produce their products. https://qz.com/850320/companies-responsible-for-the-worlds-deforestation-dont-even-know-which-forests-theyre-destroying/
They are run and operated on the basis of numerical profit. If a piece of land is in price range for profitable operations; triggers are set in motion and the mechanical hand of economics buys and assigns the land for deforestation. Econometrics.
In the US, Tyson’s brands include
I too see more than one brand on that image that I have guiltily eaten in a hot sweaty car on a warm summers afternoon. I don’t blame you.
Just think of these guys:
The spider monkeys.
Wouldn’t you rather save your conscience than have last Adelle spicy sausage at 2 in morning. I know, I get it, Ive been there.
Please buy Local, or at least not from Tyson. Buy Grassfed.
“Its not the cow. Its the how.”
Here we all are. -Ram Dass
We are in buildings, in cars, on freeways, in stores. All zooming past each other, communicating on these devices, getting our information, our food, and our fuel for thousands of miles away.
Even our friends, community, and sense of belonging comes from thousands of mile away for many.
We live in an individualistic society and culture
A world of millions and billions of “ones”.
Each one seeking home, a place of psycho somatic wholeness and belonging in the world. A career, a purpose, a lover, a place, a sense of belonging, being needed, being important.
These are real human needs, not just side goals. When they are not met, we suffer.
They are the essence of life itself.
Why then, does it feel so hard to connect with these essential components of life well lived, when there are so many of us, so much more technology, opportunity, education, wealth, free time (at least for many in the western world).
Is it the way society is set up?
Is is our childhood programming, or cultural programming that has us always judging ourselves, comparing, feeling less than, and separate? Keeping us “invincible” by always having our armor on, and never letting our guard down, hoping no one will see the shame that hides beneath?
Is it economic forces?
Is it fear, or just not having any good role models?
Well, taking a look back through history, it appears that these are new problems. They didn’t exist here in the United States as little as 300 years ago.
They are a modern phenomena springing from a modern world, and mindset.
Yet, they do not change our physiology or our biology, which is wired to connect, preferably face to face, heart to heart, being to being.
This is so rare, to actually see, and experience one another in a real way.
This is what truly brings us alive.
I thought I wanted to write about how we need to change the culture all together so that we all live closer to nature, but I now see this as an incomplete longing. That maybe the real longing is to get to know others, to see them, to experience them , so that we can fully know ourselves, and the vastness of our lives.
Yet there are so many roadblocks.
So many reasons not to connect. To not open up. So many reasons to hide in shame. I know this from personal experience. Sometimes its hard to even realize I am closing down!
But, what is there to feel shame about? Im sure each of us has our favorite reason for reminding ourselves why were are not worthy. And ironically those who have made the most progress with this are those who are most aware of this voice, and know better. They know better than to play along with its incomplete story. The voices quiet down in the context of our full being.
This voice negates the fullness of our being. It limits us to one thing that happened, or one idea, or one experience, and says: “thats it, thats who you are, they were right all along.” (whoever they are, imagined ghosts of time past or even present)…. An identity. An imprint. That can shape the totality of our lives if we never stand to face and question it in a real way, a genuine way of inquiry, curiosity, and compassion.
A psychologist named David Richo recommends the following technique of relating to these non stop voices of self limitation.
He recommends S.E.E. ing…
investigating if it comes from the:
Shadow (disowned aspects of conscious identity)—- making friends with, rather than battling with
Ego (Neurotic, habitual over controller)—-learning to let go of control
Early Childhood (Inner child)—-learning to grieve what was not given, and move on, finding outside resources or becoming those that resource that was not available for our own inner child.
It can be a combination of these three, or any two as well. They are all interlinked in our development, along with our genetics, as well as our uniqueness. Some say our wounds are precisely where our true gifts are found. They are our sacred wounds because they lead us to wholeness.
David Richo recommends getting to know these voices, and getting some insight into their nature. They are parts of us speaking, urging us to listen. But they are not always sensical, and are often wounded and frantic.
These voices act like the training wheels or floaties for our fully expanded selves, keeping our spirits and beings on a low to medium version of our true authentic self. Like a miniature version of ourselves, an energetic color in the lines life picture. Maybe we might be a bit much for our self concept to fully handle at this moment. This is okay too.
There is no right or wrong in personal growth.
Nor is there a time chart or anyone keeping your score.
The rush for personal development can be a set back and a distraction as well. “Trying” real hard to grow, the evolve. Have you ever seen a flower “try” to bloom? It reaches for the sun, sure, and soaks up fresh rain in nourishing soil; but no trying is involved. Only being, and doing what it do, naturally, joyfully. Some flowers don’t bloom, thats okay too. But don’t think that you can’t, while you face away from the sun shine. (Im guilty of this one). More time in vegetation gives more photosynthesizing leaves for a sustained bloom, lets put it that way. And whose to say the blooming is the pinnacle, anyway? The whole journey from seed to flower was one step after the next. The whole process, into the next seed is the beauty and the nuance that gives the bloom any true contrast and meaning.
Only you know,
This life is yours to lead…
…So, here we are, back to individualism.
Our connecting seems limited by our sense of smallness, and yet all we want is to truly connect so maybe our connecting can take the form of our smallness for now. Our safe pods. Our containers. Our mobile hermetically sealed (hopefully not too sealed!) bubble boy (or girl) space suits, maybe we can learn to relate in ways that hold this separation sacred, the gap between that we are leaning to bridge. To begin to safely fully know ourselves and others, and learn to let go of the fear that hides until given a chance to truly be seen and slowly and gently worked through.