Posted by Tom Boyden in Organic Agriculture on January 6, 2013
10. F.H. King – A University of Wisconsin-Madison agricultural scientist who brought the benefits of an agricultural based system of nutrient cycling and reuse in Asia into the general public’s view. His book Farmers of Forty Centuries showed the efficiency and sustainability of agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan. This brought to light a different type of farming than industrial, leading many farmers and scientists to investigate organic and sustainable farming systems. King’s contributions to soil science are immense, especially his research and work on soil physics and fertility.
To this day, the student organic farm organization at UW-Madison bares his namesake. His books and research on soils spurred many of the organic movement’s most influential to begin their organic farming careers.
9. Lord Northbourne – Coined the term ‘Organic Farming’ and wrote a monumental book warning of a food system focused on chemical agriculture, Look to the Land. With roots in biodynamic farming, Northbourne was a proponent of a holistic farming systems where the farm is an organism. Alongside Sir Albert Howard in the early 20th century, Lord Northbourne was an organic advocate anomaly among the rapid spread of chemically minded farmers and agriculturalists.
8. Bill Mollison and Dave Holmgren – It was hard to separate the two, both have influenced organic agriculture greatly through the permaculture movement. In the short amount of time that permaculture has been around, it has gained a devoted following of organic and former conventional farmers and gardeners. Holmgren authored Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, while Mollison wrote Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual; both heralded in the organic agriculture community for their unique viewpoints on sustainable farming systems.
The permaculture movement has an exceptionally bright future in shaping agriculture to further its sustainability and efficiency. Permaculture’s influence on organic agriculture will continue to rise hastily and will play a distinct role in changing our food system for the better. Check out my post on A Natural and Permanent Agriculture.
7. Masanobu Fukuoka – A beautiful philosopher, farmer and former scientist. He wrote One-Straw Revolution and developed his own type of farming in contrast to industrial chemical agriculture, Natural Farming. Fukuoka received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for public service, which many consider to be the Nobel Peace Prize of Asia.
His Natural Farming Methods were influential in shaping permaculture and modern day organic agriculture. Masanobu Fukuoka sums up his philosophy to farming well, “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
6. Hans Muller & Maria Bigler – The Swiss husband and wife duo developed the organic-biological agricultural system. Utilizing sheet compost, ley farming, and conservation tillage, this form of farming was the couple’s, along with Hans Rusch, rural approach to oppose the spread of industrialized agriculture. Organic-biological agriculture was a hybrid of the Muller’s traditional techniques, along with British organic farming, and biodynamic approaches.
Muller and Bigler legitimized the idea of using different farming methods to create a naturally efficient and conservative form of agriculture. Later on, it would veer more towards a science-based approach and take on the name ecological agriculture in Germany.
Honorable Mentions with more to come in #1-5:
Eliot Coleman – Coleman is a cold weather growing pioneer, organic agvocate, astounding author, and successfully hybridized the bio-intensive growing method to create a highly productive growing environment at Four Seasons Farm in Maine. His book The New Organic Grower, is a textbook for many small to medium scale organic farms and you should rent, borrow, or whatever you need do to read this.
Wendell Berry – A champion of sustainable agriculture and an agrarian lifestyle. It was a challenge not to include him in the list. Has been a voice for rural farmers in America for decades.
Aldo Leopold – His work on land ethic played a distinct role in the conservation-oriented mindset of the modern organic farming movement.
Joel Salatin – Author, farmer, and agvocate. A stern voice for a positive change in our food system.
Louis Bromfield - The famous author’s estate “Malabar Farm”, became an example for organic and sustainable farming.
Edward Faulkner – Author of A Plowman’s Folly and a pioneer of conservation tillage.
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Check out this blog on the Foundations of Modern Organic and Sustainable Agriculture
References and Recommended Reading:
Organic Farming: An International History by William Lockeretz
Free agricultural library containing many PDFs of rare farming books
Books to read aside from those mentioned in my post (read anything from these authors on agriculture):
Wealth of the Soil by Louis Bromfield
Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World by Joel Salatin
The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry