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Ch 2: Organic farming: The arrival and uptake of the dissident agriculture meme in Australia

Paull, John (2017) Ch 2: Organic farming: The arrival and uptake of the dissident agriculture meme in Australia. In: Etingoff, Kim (Ed.) Sustainable Development of Organic Agriculture: Historical Perspectives. Apple Academic Press (AAP), Toronto, chapter 2, pp. 31-52.

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Document available online at: https://www.crcpress.com/Sustainable-Development-of-Organic-Agriculture-Historical-Perspectives/Etingoff/p/book/9781771884839


Only four years elapsed between the coining of the term ‘organic farming’ and the founding of an association devoted to the advocacy of organic farming. The world’s first association dedicated to the promotion and proliferation of organic agriculture, the Australian Organic Farming and Gardening Society (AOFGS), was founded in Sydney, Australia, in October 1944. It is a geographically surprising sequel to the coining of the term ‘organic farming’ by Lord Northbourne and its first appearance in war-time Britain. Northbourne’s manifesto of organic farming, Look to the Land, was published in London in May 1940. When the AOFGS published a periodical, the Organic Farming Digest, it was the first association to publish an organics advocacy journal. The present paper addresses the question of how the ‘organic farming’ meme arrived in Australia. Candidates for influencing the founders of the AOFGS were (a) Lord Northbourne’s 1940 book, and/or (b) perhaps the derivative periodical Organic Farming and Gardening published in the USA by Jerome Rodale with its first issue dated May 1942, and (c) perhaps also the earlier book, Biodynamic Farming and Gardening by Dr Ehrenfried Pfeiffer which was published in 1938 in multiple editions (in London, New York, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands) which set out to introduce biodynamic agriculture to a broad audience. The archives and records of the AOFGS have not been located, and, in their absence, newspapers of the period 1938 to October 1944 (and through the period of the AOFGS, i.e. October 1944 to January 1955) were searched for references to these three potential sources of influence. Pfeiffer and/or his book received two mentions in the Australian press in the pre-AOFGS period (in 1939 and 1942). Rodale and/or his periodical were not reported in the Australian press in the pre-AOFGS period. Northbourne and/or his book were reported in the Australian press as early as July 1940, and up the founding of the AOFGS, there were 14 Northbourne mentions in the Australian press (all of them favourable or neutral) across four states: South Australia (SA) (n=6); New South Wales (NSW) (n=4); Western Australia (WA) (n=3); and Queensland (QLD) (n=1). The conclusion drawn is that in adopting the term ‘organic farming’, the AOFGS was informed primarily, and perhaps exclusively, by Northbourne’s book Look to the Land.

EPrint Type:Book chapter
Agrovoc keywords:
Subjects: Farming Systems > Social aspects
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Australia
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > United Kingdom
"Organics" in general > History of organics
Knowledge management
Research affiliation:Australia > University of Tasmania
Related Links:https://orgprints.org/27514/18/27514.pdf, https://orgprints.org/15089/1/15089new.pdf, https://orgprints.org/26110/7/26110.pdf, https://orgprints.org/16429/1/16429.pdf, https://orgprints.org/18808/1/Paull2010IfoamJSRP.pdf, https://orgprints.org/18809/1/Paull2011KoberwitzEJSS.pdf, https://orgprints.org/26547/12/26547.pdf, https://orgprints.org/18836/1/Paull2011KoberwitzJOS.pdf, https://orgprints.org/19511/1/Paull2011BetteshangerJOS.pdf, https://orgprints.org/15407/1/15407.pdf, https://orgprints.org/30187/1/PaullHennig2016.OAMaps.pdf
Deposited By: Paull, Dr John
ID Code:30979
Deposited On:10 Jan 2017 10:11
Last Modified:10 Jan 2017 10:11
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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