Sustainable agricultural practices have existed since the dawn of civilization. Green manure was systematically used in China to fertilize rice paddies over 3,000 years ago. Efficient water use, essential to survival, was utilized in the water canals of Ladakh in the Northern Himalayas, the rice terraces of Ifugao Philippines, and in the Mayan ‘cenotes’ (underground fresh water holes) in Yucatán hundreds of years before the peak of the Roman Empire.
Traditional agricultural methods from around the world have inspired today’s organic agricultural practices. For example, Sir Albert Howard, one of the founders of the organic movement in the UK, was inspired by the composting methods used by traditional farmers in India. (More on the Pioneers of Organic Agriculture)
Alternative forms of food production proceeded Organic Agriculture in the early part of the 20th century. Many alternative food movements emphased a connection between production methods and human health, and Rudolf Steiner gave his famous agriculture course in 1924 thus starting Biodynamic agriculture. The early stages of Organic Agriculture began in the 1960s and 1970s as awareness arose about the negative aspects of conventional agriculture. Organic Agriculture offered a more holistic view and an alternative to the whole modern/conventional production system.
The links below focus on experiences from the Organic movement that started during the latter half of the 20th century, what could be defined as the ‘modern’ organic era.
(adapted from IFOAM's Building Sustainable Organic Sectors)
Strategic Actions and Milestones
Case Studies of early Organic Development in Southeast Brazil, China, Italy, The Philippines, and Serbia
A History Of Organic Farming -the Weston A. Price Foundation
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