A large crowd listened to a very experienced organic farmer-organic farming campaigner Monday night at the MacPhail Homestead, and Patrick Holden had some interesting things to say. He presented a clear outline of how conventional/industrial farming had developed since the Second World War, talked about developments on his own dairy farm in Wales that he originally went to as a commune member (he milks Ayrshire cows and makes organic cheese that's sold in high-end stores), and he shared his deep concerns about the future, climate change, running out of non-renewable inputs, and the health costs associated with eating too much processed food.
He's been the director of the Soil Association in Britain (comparable to the various Certified Organic Producer Co-ops in Canada), but has now created a new organization called the Sustainable Food Trust. He thinks organic farmers have been a little "preachy" and have wrongly demonized conventional farmers. He's convinced that the issues facing food production are too serious for farmers to remain in silos, that they have to work together. Bottom line: soil fertility is everything, that means growing grass to preserve and enhance organic matter, that means the necessity of livestock, and that has to be done whether farmers or organic or not. Sustainability is the key for Patrick Holden.
Here's an audio link to about 5 minutes of his speech where he develops these ideas (audio isn't perfect, and there was a videotape made of his presentation and I'll let you know when that's available). And I just have to add that it was great being in the same room as George McRobie. He's part of the "small is beautiful" sainthood, and has inspired a lot of people like Patrick Holden and others at MacPhails last night.