we have the knowledge, the products and the practical experience to move our society away from industrialised farming systems
Biological growing was part of the presentations of last weekends Customkit Buildings’ smallBlock Sunday Seminar held at the Puni School hall.

It seems self evident to label the growing of food as a biological process, but what does biological growing actually mean?

After all, we are not growing food non-biologically using test tubes or 3-D printers to manufacture sirloin steaks using protein “inks”. I should qualify that by adding we are not yet doing this commercially. The technology is available now but the manufacturing process is too expensive to make food products that can compete on price with paddock-grown sirloin. For sure, that economics limitation will change over time as happens with most industrial processes.

The smallBlock Sunday Seminar touched on what biological growing is.

Our first presenter, Micky Cunningham from AgNZ, demonstrated that we have the knowledge around growing crops using organic principles.

Whether labelled organic, biological, natural, or ecological, the growing of food under the principles Micky talked about is gaining wider acceptance by farmers.

Our second presenter, Bill Sinclair from Pacific Biofert, showed us some of the organic tools and products that can be applied to replace manufactured chemicals in our food production system.

Third up was Lynda Hallinan, editor-at-large for NZ Gardener, who presented very practical ideas on growing a wide range of citrus crops. Organically grown of course.

Bill Madsen from local surveyors Madsen-Lawrie, completed the seminar series with some insights in to the pitfalls and opportunities of rural subdivision in the Franklin area.

A take-out from Bill’s presentation was the unintended consequence of councils pushing for higher thresholds to permit rural subdivisions, actually reducing rural productivity and reducing the quality of food grown locally. It is clear that small scale organic farmers are more productive than large scale industrialised farms.

So we have the knowledge, the products and the practical experience to move our society away from industrialised farming systems.

We have the research showing that food grown under that old, less productive system has a lesser nutrient value and is more damaging to both environmental and human health.

corn-injectionYet we continue to voluntarily consume products to which pesticides, including fungicides, herbicides and miticides, have been applied.

It is nonsensical that the US government have seen fit to increase residual pesticide limits in US food to accommodate the needs of Monsanto to sell more glyphosate to apply to their genetically modified crops.

We continue to hear calls for New Zealand to allow genetically modified organisms so that we do not fall behind the rest of the world in the economic race, a race it seems, that is destroying our world.

Those calls tend to come from people with a vested interest in the technology.

Those calls ought be resisted on the basis that we can achieve a sufficient level of food productivity and higher food quality, from agricultural systems based on ecological methods.

This is the science of agroecology and it encompasses biological and organic methods. It is about applying the methods we see everyday in natural systems. It’s implementation is encapsulated by permaculture principles.

This biological growing approach needs to replace existing agricultural methods that stem from economic value being created by combinations of enterprises, labor and capital set up for the purpose of exploiting available natural resources.