It is apparent that many of the challenges that are impacting the globe today are exacerbated by conventional agricultural practices. It might seem unlikely that the thrust of these practices can be changed. However, what is now called “conventional” agriculture only began to be promoted at the end of World War II, a little over 50 years ago. The advertising of product manufacturers and the prompting of agricultural advisors over a long period of time were needed to convince farmers of the “benefits” of the new way of farming. The type of farming now called conventional only became so through a large educational campaign.
The advance to full sustainability will require a concerted, comprehensive, multi-disciplinary and global effort of education and demonstration to be effective. That is what this proposal addresses.
In March, 2000, Ecology Action presented the “Soil, Food and People” Conference at the University of California-Davis. The more than 50 presenters from eight different countries represented many diverse disciplines, and the breadth of their interests was further augmented by over 180 other participants. These people gathered with a desire and determination to meet local, regional and global environmental challenges, improve food access for all peoples, enhance biogenetic diversity, and invigorate agriculture and communities. This conference served to reinforce their convictions. Now, these committed individuals are ready to work together in a concerted effort toward helping to create global sustainability.
After the Conference, Kent Whealy of Seed Savers Exchange wrote:
“I want to tell you and everyone at Ecology Action how very much I enjoyed participating in your recent conference. I am sincerely impressed with what you have been able to accomplish. As speaker after speaker got up and told how hundreds and even thousands of families are literally able to eat because of your methods, well...I didn’t really realize.”
John Doran of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, recipient of the Onassis Environmental Prize–1999 and President of the Soil Science Society of America 2000-2001, wrote that the conference was
“...one of the most inspiring conferences that I have been to in my over 25 years as a scientist and a lifetime as a person. From my perspective, one of the greatest threats that humanity and the planet face is in finding resource-friendly ways of meeting human needs for food and fiber while maintaining environmental stability and conserving resources for future generations.... We must ‘translate our science into practice’. This conference brought the necessary people together to clearly see that in sustainably producing food we must use nature as our guide, we must escape from the poverty of affluence which is always striving to accumulate more of things you really don’t need, and we must ‘seize the day’ in recognizing the opportunity for finding a new way of living in harmony with nature and humankind in the new millennium…”
It is to these perceptions which provide a sustainable solution to the challenges faced by soil, food, and people globally that The Sustainability Fund is dedicated.