The New York Times and EcoFarm 2014 took note of the pride of “silver lions” at the Agrarian Elders Conference in January. Norbert, Amigo Bob and Bob Cannard were among the elders of Organic Farming at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. Norbert says, “we were very involved in serious discussions with really interesting people and as we are getting more comfortable with each other the interactions were getting more intense.” The New York Times wrote about the conference. Norbert read the article and says that, as usual, while the article is true, it cannot possibly encompass all the depth and truth of the conversations that took place during that week.
“While succession planning was one of the foremost issues on farmer’s minds when we arrived it turned out that all of the personal and practical issues around farming quickly made way to the more in depth discussions around the disconnect of food production and the consumer. At the heart of every participant community building and food security were the overarching themes. We all agreed that the community needs to be educated in different aspects of food security. In particular, how local food systems are jeopardized by genetic engineering companies, such as Monsanto.
“The greatest danger is that Monsanto currently has the right to sue farmer’s who accidentally plant/ed one of their patented seed varieties (ie. round up ready corn & soybeans)…ie. through contaminated seed source or seeds blowing into their field from passing by trucks or a nearby farm. As it stands now Monsanto exercises it’s right to sue farmer’s for patent infringement. Just look at it this way: your neighbour spray paints their house with a radiant blue paint and some of the paint ends up on your house and your neighbour has the right to sue you for having his paint on your house. If you google Monsanto vs. Percy Schmeiser you’ll find just such a case. This right to patent and control life forms is a direct offense to a safe and secure food system for you and your family and millions of subsistence farmer’s around the world.”
Stay tuned as we research, discuss and share more thoughts.
In the meantime all that you might imagine about the conference site is true: The place is exceptionally beautiful and magical. The showers to the hot baths are in an open room with sliding glass doors perched on a 20 meter cliff straight up from the crashing waves of the Pacific. Food is mostly grown on site, there are eggs, cheese and some meat and in the kitchen next to our meeting room and there was an endless supply of wine, courtesy of the owner of Esalen, for our afternoon and evening sessions.