Archive for February, 2010

Law and Ordure

February 13, 2010

After telling the Welsh Assembly Offices in Carmarthen 3 times that I had, if fact, shown the department my Certificate of Compliance with the Organic Farming Scheme through 2008 in March 2009 I had the payment due for that year this month.

Imagine if we paid our taxes that slowly!

The payment covers the cost of one year’s certification with about £30 over. Presumably that is to pay for the journeys, photocopies and phone calls required to fulfill all their demands. 

Imagine if  I considered these admin costs at therate the banks charge!

Yep; I am amused and jaded by the rusty wheels of the steamroller system as I get flattened by the process, the beaurocracy, the indefference to the very values the scheme is trying to support.

Nope; it will not be worth staying in the scheme.

If organic certification were to influence the fashion industry in its PR, centre page the Sunday mags would be spread with pictures of three stitches, maybe a cross section of a piece of cloth. We’d be able to tell then that the whole garment was desirable to wear, no?

Farming and food in Britain at least is in such a mess. I’m joining the food growing masses, who have a bash in their back gardens. Policy is ill conceived, scarcely administered, designed to damage small scale farmers and smallholders, ignores the issues that most environmentally aware peole can address and cannot hope to control the incidious large scale destruction of the land and biosphere that short-term economics has, for decades, rewarded the proffiteering mega farmers or driven smaller ones to desperate measures such as selling out to the supermarkets.

The cheapness and poorness of quality of foods that are churned out are a disgrace to our culture. Someone explain to me why people resent paying for environmentally responsible agriculture but will happily waste themselves on a Friday night spending maybe £50 on drinks they will later spew out all over the pavement or some poor shop owner’s doorway.  And there are not a few poor isolated individuals who have to have surgery to stop themselves exploding with obesity by having a stomach ‘staple’ or’ balloon’. Most people have absolutely no idea where and how food is grown. Quite a few have no idea of nutrition and less about food preparation. Britain is a nation of greedy supermarkets and big fat mugginses. Perhaps the root of it is low self esteem and not feeling accountable to each other.

There are hopeful signs though. It will be a while yet before we see the results but gardening to grow food and support wildlife is being added to the primary school curriculum. I have heard nothing of it but wouldn’t be surprised if there’s now an NVQ for the ‘Not Very Qualified’ streamers in secondary school and colleges in this nationally ignored subject. Lets hope that it will empower the powerless of the future and, (this is a fantastical notion) pull the rug out from under the feet of the supermarkets.

OK so why is Judith the ‘floaty gardener’, with floral blouse flapping in the summery breeze ranting so bitterly all of a sudden about the British relationship with food?

I should try to analyse this! I still love the sunny-floaty, tough-gritty spectrum of all weather working the land with no more technical assistance than an ordinary garden fork. But 1st I realise how it has alienated me. The cost of the time input alone has done that: No time for a social life at all, especially when being a member of an evangelical church effectively dictates how I spend any time commited to other people, such as the drunks late at night we try to help to demonstrate God’s unconditional love for them. I do it for that reason alone. I am no better than a drunk, but I’m a lot better inspite of myself, because I’ve got Jesus pleading for me, his righteousness standing in the place of my grubby sin. So I am not totally cut off, there are also all the other duties I have, or debts of love or whatever you may like to call them, which give me time with others. I just don’t get to hang out and chill with friends and family much. I miss that.

The experience with the official and legal side of Organic Certification has disillusioned me greatly. That is another reason for my rant.

Lack of commitment of customers for whom I may have spent months working to be able to keep my side of the bargain of supplying them just suddenly saying they don’t want produce any more; that hurt. It cost a fair amout too. It hasn’t affected my friendships with them because I know they have no idea of how much work I’d done for them. Why would growing for them be any more arduous than picking the lovely stuff off the shelves at Lidl? They have a persuasive point there. If I shut my conscience’s eyes to the food industry, the unofficial slave labour, the destruction of small businesses, the exploitation of land and animals, the long, poorly paid hours, (I have experienced long loss making hours so I’m hardly causing more hurt than I have endured there,) I could be very tempted to chuck in the tools, buy a telly and fill my non-wage earning hours consuming, satisfying my Jill Average wants. But then, when I think of an existance like that, it all seems so shallow and pointless. So I don’t chuck it in.

And that Galatians verse came to mind, and then came to me from my daughter on facebook in the same few days: Gal 6;9 We must not become tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time if we do not give up.” Of course there’s a principle I’m applying here. I don’t expect to harvest eternal life from my field, but maybe by demonstrating respect and truth in my attitude towards creation, I demonstrate Christ, who certainly does give eternal life.


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