“The earth demands the labor of a true man, not the gyrations of a senseless machine, in order to give of her best, and thus quality in farming, as malnutrition has shown us to our bitter cost, must forever take precedence of quantity.”
–H. J. Massingham, Field Fellowship, (London: Chapman and Hall, 1942). Excerpt selected by Eliot Coleman, author of the Four Season Harvest and the New Organic Grower; founding member and board member of Slow Money.
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If modern materialism had not blinded the human vision of reality, the answer would be obvious enough. Nature is a series of biological rhythms, interactions and interdependencies, which are essentially non-mechanical because the stage on which they operate, is that of life. The naked soil shares the gift of life with the wool-wrapped sheep. That is why the earth, when overdriven or exploited or speeded up or subjected to the business methods of an industry, refuses to be so maltreated by going either sick or sterile.
The earth demands the labor of a true man, not the gyrations of a senseless machine, in order to give of her best, and thus quality in farming, as malnutrition has shown us to our bitter cost, must forever take precedence of quantity. Farming as a craft can never be old-fashioned or superseded since it is dependent upon doing things in the right way and at the right time and not in the wrong way and the fastest time.
Is farming a craft or is it a business? Is it a way of life or a mode of money making; is quantity a superior aim to quality, production to fertility and are the things of the spirit totally detached from purely material factors? Or, to put it in another way, is the reason why quantitative farming is being everywhere proved a failure that these sentimental elements like craftsmanship, love of the land, human harmony with biological rhythms, traditional skill, cultivation by human labor, personal care and individual treatment have been carefully segregated out of it like the wheat-germ from our modern white bread?
—Excerpted from: H. J. Massingham, Field Fellowship, (London: Chapman and Hall, 1942).