Dr. Paul Lee: Alan Chadwick and the Origins of the Organic Movement in California…


“It has taken me over thirty years to write this book. It tells the story of my starting the first organic garden at a university in the country, with Alan Chadwick, in 1967, who E. F. Schumacher called the world’s greatest gardener. I recount the gardens Alan developed after UC Santa Cruz; Saratoga; the Zen Center Farm at Green Gulch; Round Valley in Covelo, California; and Carmel in the Valley in West Virginia.

“I develop the philosophical background of Alan’s work and practice: the biodynamic and French Intensive systems he amalgamated. Biodynamics was developed by Rudolf Steiner in the early decades of the last century under the influence of Goethe who was Steiner’s great inspiration thanks to Goethe’s botanical studies. Goethe to Steiner to Chadwick represents the Vitalist tradition in defense of the integrity of organic nature as opposed to the Physicalist tradition of modern scientism reducing organic nature to matter.

“After we started the garden I had to find out why organic nature had been undermined by industrial society and why it had to be recovered and reaffirmed. Why did ‘organic’ have to become a buzz word? Why did industrialized and mechanized and commercialized food and flower production take over, supplanting natural and organic procedures? Why did they start calling factories plants? I tell you why. In my book!

“I like to say that Chadwick gave us a second chance. He replanted the vital root of existence in the late stage of the self-destruction of industrial society. Yes he did! You will be inspired and enchanted by this man whose sole purpose was to overcome the uprooting of industrial society, a world above the given world of nature, and raise again the flag in celebration and defense of organic integrity.”

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Available at Mulligan Books, Paul Lee’s new memoir/biography, There is a Garden in the Mind has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as “part philosophy, part personal meditation, and part tribute to a man who was a transformational figure in the organic movement that began from small seeds in California and has now reached a global community.” Lee and his former UC Santa Cruz colleague, English gardener Alan Chadwick, helped spark California’s organic movement and continues to inspire new methods and movements for sustainable farming and gardening today.

There Is a Garden in the Mind presents an engaging look at the work and life of pioneering organic gardener Alan Chadwick and his profound influence on the organic farming movement. In this wide-ranging and philosophical memoir, author Paul Lee recounts his first serendipitous meeting with Chadwick in Santa Cruz, California, in 1967, and their subsequent founding of the Chadwick Garden at UC Santa Cruz, the first organic and biointensive garden at a U.S. university.

Today, there are few who would dispute the ecological and health benefits of organically produced food, and the student garden project founded by Chadwick and Lee has evolved into a world-renowned research center that helps third-world farmers obtain high yields using organic gardening. But when Chadwick and Lee first broke ground in the 1960s, the term “organic” belonged to the university’s chemists, and the Chadwick Garden spurred a heated battle against the whole system of industrial existence. Lee’s memoir contextualizes this struggle by examining the centuries-old history of the conflict between industrial science and organic nature, the roots of the modern environmental movement and the slow food movement, and the origin of the term “organic.” His account of Chadwick’s work fills in a gap in the history of the sustainable agriculture movement and proposes that Chadwick’s groundwork continues to bear fruit in today’s burgeoning urban garden, locavore, and self-sufficiency movements…

More Paul Lee here

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One Comment

My understanding is that the Cubans have outpaced everyone else in organic gardening. This is the sort of progress that happens when, as with the Cubans loosing access to petrochemicals with the collapse of the Soviet Union, people have no other choice.

ybera

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