|Tasmanian Organic-Dynamic Producers Inc|
|Is It Organic?|
|What do I do?|
The Tasmanian Organic-Dynamic Producers will support organic research provided that research projects have a strong farmer focus and that functioning organic systems (biophysical, economic and social) are used as the sites of research. We suggest that practicing farmers be engaged (by the "research community") as "practical researchers". We have many farmers willing to play a role in the development of a new research strategy based upon participatory research approaches (e.g. Action Research). We believe that it is time to learn from the farmer (as an explicit process). We also believe that holistic research strategies are needed when researching organic systems, because of the strong emphasis on connectedness within organic farming systems. We assert that one cannot understand the whole by looking at its parts, rather one must experience the whole in order to study emergent properties such as sustainability. Farm sustainability is the result of a complex interaction of biophysical, economic and human factors - all the makings of a high order concept! Of course there is still room for reductionist science - the key here is the ability to embrace methodologies that allow us to move with comfort from the plane of systemic enquiry to the plane of mechanistic enquiry in order to facilitate the exploration of the phenomenon of emergent properties. For instance, no amount of knowledge of hydrogen and oxygen gases could prepare us for the thrill of the "wateriness" of water! Yet, in the end, we do need to have a basic understanding of the building blocks of water! In terms of sustainability we can only "know" so much by looking at parts of an agricultural system - you have to get "wet" to know what it actually is!
Therefore, we believe that not only are whole farm studies needed, but appropriate methodologies MUST be embraced capable of exploring all aspects of the working system. Here the term "system" may be taken to mean: farm, family, community, marketing chain, or manufacturing facility (or maybe all 5!). We encourage the full exploration of "new research approaches" as the first and primary goal of researching for a "new agriculture".
These are just a few ideas that we believe are vital and important starting points. We want the "new agriculture" to deliver on its promise of a "better and more sustainable agriculture". What better way to start than a critical look at the old research methods that got us to the present crises of modern agriculture, and the need to justify the push toward a new agriculture!