‘Farming with Awe’ looks at three related questions and briefly shows:
1. when did we take the wrong turning, both as farmers and society
2. which healthy boundaries were crossed in doing so
3. what are the prospects if we respect those boundaries
The struture of the richly illustarted booklet (landscape format, 48 pages) is as follows: Introduction, History (Ch.1), Boundaries (Ch.2), Prospects (Ch.3), Examples, FAQ’s, Justification and Sources. Draft versions have been commented on by a large group of people from various fields, such as economics, agricultural history, rural development, nature and landscape management, public administration, soil science, journalism, theology, philosophy and of course farming practice.
The author’s main purpose in writing the booklet was to hold up a clear mirror to the Dutch agricultural world and show the grim prospects of continued industrial ways of farming. Moreover, it aims to encourage farmers who have recently chosen to redirect the course of their farming or are considering doing so. From his own experiences in transforming the family farm, the author is downright positive concerning the prospects for sustainable ways of farming, beneficial for all of creation.
The many presentations and lectures have enabled a broader audience to be addressed. ‘Not everyone is a farmer, but all eat’, which implies that we all have a responsibility when it comes to enabling farmers in our communities to farm within healthy boundaries.
With crisis upon crisis, mainstream agriculture is still heading for disaster. But over the last couple of years we have seen a remarkable increase in initiatives that follow a different track, both from farmers and citizens. This is not only encouraging and hopeful, but it is also challenging to our own position and role. As farmers, we should not expect and wait for the government or the ‘consumers’ to guarantee the continuity of our farms. We have a key role to play, in line with our calling to serve the soil (life) and to respect the given boundaries within the created order: a calling to farm with awe.
By popular request the English version is now available, as an e-book. Although written in the Dutch context, the basic principles presented in this booklet are universal. As in the biblical parable on the sower and the seed, the author expects the message to fall ‘in good soil’, hopefully in many places around the world.
Farming with awe was written out of involvement and concern for farming and farmers. The booklet does not hesitate to name things that are crooked, but does so in order to be able to point to boundaries within which our farming yields a versatile, lasting fruit. Doing justice in dealing with the land is a responsibility of society as a whole, but that should not be an excuse for not taking the lead as farmers and playing a key role!
In writing, the author has been encouraged by the informal platform ‘bible and agriculture’, which for a number of years now combines farm visits with discussions and presentations.
Comments from farmers who read along:
Cattle farmer (Friesland): My sincere compliment! It is inspiring from beginning to end. It not only gets to the heart of the matter, but also offers possible solutions. The fact that you brought 'Farming with awe' to my attention is very special to me, because it helps me at exactly the right moment to further develop the business with confidence.
Arable farmer (Zeeland): As a farmer's son who grew up on a mixed farm, it is a recognisable and fascinating story. Fewer farmers and an exodus from the countryside are indeed a cause for concern. Perhaps the tide is also turning.
Mixed-farm farmer (Flevoland): I am glad you wrote the book. It clearly shows that acknowledging our 'not knowing' is the basis for healthy agriculture. But also that there can be no freedom without responsibility.
Young farmer and gardener (Gelderland): Fascinating to read and beautifully illustrated! Courage and trust are things that I personally see as crucial for change.