Book reviews: Farms of Tomorrow Revisited

Steven McFadden Tawndor at
Mon Oct 26 15:15:26 EST 1998

Two reviews of a recent book on farming and community supported
agriculture -- a short one and then a longer one. Although the book is
American, the reviews are from England. - SM

Maya Books

Trauger Groh and Steven McFadden

This book provides a thoughtful and compelling case for a new form of
sustainable agriculture. In a series of well-written, highly readable
essays, the authors lay out the philosophical, historical, social,
economic, and even spiritual groundwork for the future of farming. Farms
of Tomorrow-Revisited is an update of the original, published in 1990,
which was translated into Japanese, Russian, and Korean. It has the same
underlying precept -- that farming is not just a business, but a
precondition for life on earth -- tempered by seven years of additional
experience and six new essays. Ten farms are examined, providing a range
of models. A series of useful appendices provide practical information
on how to get started in CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

 312pp 234 x 156mm £12.95 pb September 98

Maya Books
Publications on environmental issues, green politics, alternative
technologies, renewable energy, organic gardening and farming, and
ecological building.


Resurgence Magazine

By Julian Rose
Resurgence Magazine - 9/98

(A review of the book Farms of Tomorrow Revisited:
 Community Supported Farms, 
Farms Supported Communities, 1998
by Trauger Groh and Steven McFadden)

In the preface to the series of essays that form the principal content
of this book the authors state: "Seven years ago our book 'Farms of
Tomorrow' appeared in print with the help of the Bio-Dynamic Farming and
Gardening Association.  It contained basic essays on new structures for
farms which acknowledged that farming is not just a business like any
other profit-making business, but a precondition of all human life on
Earth and a precondition of all economic activity."

It is rare to come across any practical farming guide that sets out,
from its inception, a set of principles that embrace social, spiritual
and economic concerns on completely equal terms.  But then Farms of
Tomorrow Revisited is about community supported agriculture (CSA),
wedded to Biodynamic farming principles; each is radical and far-sighted
in its own right; together they constitute an almost total antithesis of
current agribusiness.

I have spent a good part of the last 20 years grappling with the ups and
downs of commercial organic farming.  It has been a steep and intensive
learning curve as well as an enriching one.  But recently it has led me
to reflect deeply on the purpose of all this effort.  Has the main
objective been to try to make a living from farming the land
or has it been to fashion an underlying shift in emphasis in
our attitudes and expectancies of daily life in the late Twentieth
Century?  They are not mutually exclusive issues, of course, but by
recognizing that growing food is a "precondition of human life on Earth"
one instantly understands it to be primarily a social concern and
secondly and agronomic concern.  The profit motive is subordinated.

As the agricultural industry hurtles on toward the annihilation of the
very biodiversity which sustains it, we all find it increasingly hard to
know which way to turn in order to avoid becoming accomplices to the
growing tide of destruction.  Even as an organic farmer I feel deeply
uneasy with the constant need to keep up with the rat race: the
pressures induced by trading in and with a society seemingly caught
irrevocably in the fast lane to nowhere.

Those of us who practice sustainable farming and forestry methods hold a
small (but significant) part of the solution.  But over the coming
decades our organic remit must broaden to include the whole spectrum of
rural resources, tying together villages, markets, people, food, energy
and raw materials in recognition of their interlocking significance to a
sustainable local economy.  It will no longer be enough to focus on
agriculture alone.

It is this new dimension that forms the central focus for Farms of
Tomorrow Revisited.  Arguably, the community-supported agriculture
movement has grown up in response to the need to create a reformed
sustainable food system -- one that embraces a community rather than a
corporate or nuclear family approach and that builds an essential bond
between farmers and those who support them.  As the book explains, the
Biodynamic methods employed on these farms find their roots in the
writings and teachings of Rudolf Steiner, whose perceptions on
seasonality, cosmic planting rhythms, animal health, dynamic composting,
and many other closely related topics, have attracted increasing
interest over the years.  It was Steiner who prophetically wrote in the
late 1920s, "if you feed a ruminant on animal matter, it will go mad." 

The holdings examined in Farms of Tomorrow Revisited clearly draw on
Steiner's commitment to a reformed understanding of the day-to-day
practicalities of the agricultural calendar.  The first part of the book
is devoted to a series of essays that develop the reader's understanding
of the philosophy which embraces community-supported agriculture.  In
the second half, separate chapters are given to the examination of some
ten different CSA farms, mostly in the eastern United States.  An
appendix at the end offers practical guidelines, with sample budgets and
other relevant information pertinent to the establishment of a CSA

The wisdom and clarity of philosophy are striking throughout, but one
cannot help being left with the impression that it is hard for the
somewhat introspective Biodynamic practitioners and supporters to retain
one foot in the reality of existing society rather than place both in
the ultimate compost-inspired future. It is, as always, a question of

(Reviewer Julian Rose is an organic farmer/forester and trustee of the
Dartington Hall Trust, England. The review appeared in Resurgence
Magazine - 9/98  


Farms of Tomorrow Revisited:
Community Supported Farms,
Farm Supported Communities

By Trauger Groh and Steven McFadden
Published 1998  
by The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Assoc.

The book is available from

Or from the principal distributor;
Chelsea Green, Inc. - 1-800-639-4099

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