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“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land,
purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

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“There are opportunities even
in the most difficult moments.”
Wangari Maathai

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“Human use, population, and technology have reached
that certain stage where mother Earth no longer
accepts our presence with silence.”
Dalai Lama XIV

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“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs,
but not every man's greed.”
Mahatma Gandhi

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“Infinite growth of material consumption
in a finite world is an impossibility...”
E. F. Schumacher

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“You cannot protect the environment unless
you empower people, you inform them,
and you help them understand that these resources
are their own, that they must protect them."
Wangari Maathai

Critical Times

Crossfields Institute International is developing, offering  and coordinating a variety of courses that we feel address the critical issues of our times.

The Researching Holistic Approaches to Agroecology course arises out of an awareness of critical issues in agriculture, the environment and the social dimensions of these which are arising and unfolding at this time. We recognize that these issues can not easily be separated out into neat categories or separate domains and that new approaches to research, dialogue and social innovation are required to contribute positively to the complex and dynamic times that we are experiencing.

The wording in the United Nations Trade and Environment Review (2013) states very clearly that:
“The 2008 food crisis was an important catalyst for realizing the need for a fundamental transformation and questioning some of the assumptions that had driven food, agricultural and trade policy in recent decades.
The fundamental transformation of agriculture may well turn out to be one of the biggest challenges, including for international security, of the 21st century.
The world needs a paradigm shift in agricultural development: from a “green revolution” to an “ecological intensification” approach.
The required transformation is much more profound than simply tweaking the existing industrial agricultural system.”
To read the full document go here: UN Trade and Environment Review 2013

We can also consider the following:
In a decade that has seen pendulum swings of drought and flood we have witnessed the vulnerability of agriculture in any number of locations around the globe.

For instance in North America extreme climatic events have featured in the news for some time, as this article reports from the west coast:  “California has been in bad shape…for several years now, with drought slashing the amount of water available to that state’s farmers and the crops they grow. Now, 2015 is shaping up to be way worse.” (for more on California drought go here)

Climate is one factor that increasingly needs to be considered as we seek to develop greater resilience in food culture. Economy is another. Often we find surfacing in the press issues around food pricing and the complexities of how food prices impact on producers and consumers alike. We started our Holistic Science module this year with a look at some of the events which were current in the dairy industry at that time. (You can find links to these in the Sample Study notes for the Holistic Science module – here)

The role of the human being in agricultural production and stewardship is a very poignant issue in these times. What is the significance of human input into agriculture, food production and food culture? Is the human primarily a labour force? Is human labour a cost or an enhancement to agricultural initiatives?
These questions come to the fore in articles such as this one, where there is a strong case being made for replacing human beings with the hyper efficiency of machines. Many approaches to agriculture and agroecology see an important role for human engagement with the land and would argue that there should be greater social and human involvement in these areas, not less. What is the cost of removing human input from farms? Can this be quantified? or qualified? These questions are, we feel, worth researching.