NA & Organic
The Relationship between Natural Agriculture and Organic Approaches
The organic food movement developed in response to numerous trends in the agricultural industry, particularly the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which pose health hazards. The techniques of organic agriculture include the use of micro-organisms in the soil as well as compost and manure, feeding the soil as opposed to feeding the plants, and employing a system of integrated pest management. The practices of the organic food movement are geared toward eliminating the use of chemicals in food production for health purposes.
Generally speaking, Natural Agriculture has a broader, more philosophical approach to agriculture and aims not only to produce health benefits but also aid in fostering the well-being of entire ecosystems and of the whole individual, mental and spiritual as well as physical. It grew out of a vision of the interrelationship of all life. Farmers using the Natural Agriculture method base each decision on consideration for the entire web of life. While Natural Agriculture may use natural compost such as leaves and grasses, it does not use manure because it does not believe this benefits the natural soil. When compost is used, local materials are encouraged, and they are used not as a nutrient but to keep the soil moist, warm and soft. The principle belief is that everything needed by the plant for growth is already present in the soil. Each year through the practice of Natural Agriculture, the condition of the soil improves on its own.
Natural Agriculture does not recognize any insect as a “pest” that needs to be exterminated by chemical means. There may be reasons for the presence of these animals which we may not understand, for example a balancing of Nature’s systems. The Natural Agriculture method promotes a more comprehensive understanding of the role of insects and how to maintain their balance so they do not become excessive and damage plant life. Most often an imbalance of insects can be successfully addressed through natural means.
Organic and Natural Agriculture methods have many similarities. Working together, Natural Agriculture can contribute to the evolution of the organic movement worldwide. For example, a key tenet of Natural Agriculture is the vital energy of freshly grown food. Therefore it promotes the consumption of food grown locally. Food that has been shipped from long distances loses important nutritional value. Furthermore, there are important health benefits to be derived from eating what can be seasonally grown in one’s own locality. Eating tropical fruit in the middle of winter may not be what the body needs to conserve its heat.