Living in the British countryside, this is the time of year (Spring in the northern hemisphere) when I find myself becoming increasingly agitated, on alert, frustrated and not a little fearful. I am twitchy at the thought of what is about to happen with a vengeance, and what has already begun in some fields this year … agricultural chemical spraying taking place beside or near our home and organic garden, and around the living and working environments of many others in or near the countryside too.
In our garden, one of the few creating a tiny island of some biodiversity, in the midst of miles of chemically managed agriculture, the birds are welcoming in the Springtime with their presence and their song. Flowers are beginning to open, adding more life and loveliness to the stunning displays of our many snowdrops (galanthus), which have been lighting up the Winter dark for weeks, and fresh leaves are showing on any number of different plants … signs of hope.
Yet with the charm and relief of the arrival of Spring, I know that soon Man’s dominance will roar into action all around us and the toxic agricultural spraying will recommence, where it has not indeed done so already, to shatter the beauty and peace. With so much resting on humans being able to transform the damage that has been escalating on our planet, I find it completely irrational that modern, toxic agriculture be allowed to continue at the pace and severity that it currently is.
Not long ago, it was hard to find many who would agree that farming can be done sustainably, with financial viability and sensitivity, and be done well, without increasing the demands that we are placing on our landscape, our soil, our natural food and drinking supply, and our life-giving air. However, that has all changed now and many are up in arms at what is happening to our life sources on this planet, agreeing wholeheartedly that there is a better way, with statistics, examples and heavy paperwork to prove it.
I am aghast at the monstrous reality that farmers continue to use toxic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and synthetic fertilisers, when they are the ones to whom stewardship of the land and our food supply has been entrusted. Nowadays, there is a murmur so often heard that the only reason this toxic farming continues is “for money” or “out of greed”. I know it is not that simple. As to the companies who drive this … well, that is another story.
How can this all be acceptable?
How can these people live with themselves?
And what of the many farmers committing suicide?
What value is there to farmer or society, when we plunder the earth and transform the natural health and viability of our soil? What intrinsic value is there in devastating the land, dominating all species bar a few allowed to remain, and seeking to control the earth wherever we can? How can our eco-system survive this madness? How can our food supply be healthy, whole and ensured? How can we continue as a species ourselves, when we are wiping out those very species who offer us their unconditional support, and without whom we could not long continue to exist? We have all now heard, I assume, the quote by Einstein that, without the bee, Man would have a mere four years left.
We cannot expect to go on, if we wipe out our natural cycles and try to perform every task in Nature ourselves. No number of men and their machines can ever replace the work done for us by our vital insect pollinators, birds, soil micro-organisms and varied underground species, and of course the many different types of bee – all of whom are being either harmed, mortally wounded or wiped out by chemicals to a lesser or greater degree. Our established trees we are losing at a frightening rate, and with them so much life and vitality, not least providing us with the vital clean air we all need. Whatever we do on the land, we are causing to run off and harm the many, precious life systems in the sea … the cycle of harm is alarming.
How can we be so arrogant as to think that we have a right to strip our children’s planet and their right to an inheritance of a future filled with hope, healing and diversity? How can we be such murderers, stripping the tapestry of our green and wooded environments, raping the Earth with our monstrous, egotistical and idiotic, swiping and sweeping destruction of all that was here before us? How can we possibly hope to go on this way? How can we look our children in the eyes with love, when we are meting out to them such poison?
Have those who climb into the cabs of their killing machines ever looked into the face of a child holding a butterfly? Have those very souls and others like them, not heard that a butterfly must start its life as a little grub … a caterpillar? Do these adults not know that a whole and functioning, diverse eco-system is vital, in order to sustain our lives, our health, our right to good food to live? Can those who seek to dominate the economic markets with their greed not see the damage that their choices and their actions are doing to each and every little child? Do they not care? Do they not live on the Earth too?
Soon I shall hear the rumbling of a farmer neighbour’s smart new piece of machinery, pulling behind it a vast tank filled with a product made by Man … glyphosate … whose detrimental, cancerous and deleterious effects are being made known around the world, yet people continue to spray and dab it on. I cannot hold back the ire that rises up inside me when I hear about and see the use of “RoundUp” (or glyphosate by any other name) and I believe that every person who dares to use this poison ought to be held accountable if they indeed know how evil it is.
There is a vast body of evidence already available to everyone who cares to seek it, which fully and substantially shows how dangerous this way of treating Nature is, and what a devastating effect it is having on so many people’s lives, through sickness, failed wellbeing (psychological and otherwise) and cruelly shortened life. How can we call this way of producing our food “farming”? How can we call this of way doing things “growing food”?
As the anticipation of Spring brings with it so much joy and promise, there is a tug of war going on inside, as for me there lurks a deep undercurrent of frustration and fear at what is coming and what could be. I know that we are not safe, and nor are the farmers who work with toxic products rather than listening to Nature and working with her instead.
It has been proven that organic agriculture is viable and can feed the world. Why then, does an intelligent, wealthy and forward thinking country like Britain continue to fund and allow its farmers to harm us, as they are subsidised to unwittingly rape the land?
My deepest hope and greatest dream, as a mother, a thinker and a human being, is that our harmful reliance on chemical farming will cease with urgent effect, and the countryside become once more the healing, safe for foraging, bountiful and biodiverse place it used to be. If only that dream could sprout, take root and blossom to grow abundantly this Spring!
Update: Thursday 20 January 2022
The article above now also appears on LinkedIn:
Listen to a recording of the blog article above, “The Truth Is Not Always Beautiful”, which was recorded on Clubhouse on 10 November 2021:
Holly Maxwell Boydell is the Founder of Towards Greener Borders.