Who Started Organic Gardening?
No one person started organic gardening; but many have been influential in developing natural gardening concepts or techniques. The following are just some of those influential people who have made significant contributions to the organic movements over recent centuries.
Lady Eve Balfour
Lady Eve Balfour was a farmer and organic farming pioneer. Born in the U.K. in 1899 she was one of the first women to study agriculture and at the age of 21 started farming in Suffolk England. For the next 70 years she worked as an educator, researcher (The Haughley Experiment - a scientific experiment into organics) promoted organic farming, and published books, such as The Living Soil in 1942. She co-founded the Soil Association in 1946; an organisation that promoted sustainable agriculture and organic methods. This organisation still flourishes today and is one of the principle bodies dealing with inspections of, and awarding certificates to, organic farms and small-holdings in the UK.
Sir Albert Howard
Born in the U.K. in 1873, Sir Albert Howard studied botany and became a principle figure in the organic movement. He is often referred to as the father of modern organic agriculture. He worked in Asia and India as an agriculture consultant and also developed and documented organic techniques that he also promoted throughout Europe. He wrote An Agricultural Testament, a classic organic farming text and published in 1940.
Jerome Irving Rodale
Born in 1878 in the USA, Jerome Rodale was one of the first advocates of organic and sustainable farming in that country. Initially an accountant who set up an electrical firm, Rodale was later so influenced by the work of Sir Albert Howard that he bought a farm to test Sir Albert's ideas. From then on he actively promoted an organic life-style, and also popularised the term Organic Farming.
With Sir Albert as associate editor J I Rodale published (by Rodale Press, Inc.) the first edition of Organic Farming and Gardening in 1942 in order, to promote organic approaches to agriculture.
Rodale believed that the health of the soil and the plants living in it depended on introduction of organic matter in the form of de-composed animal and plant waste. He was also convinced that the use of chemical pesticides destroyed soil micro-organisms. These are the very organisms that are needed to breakdown plant and animal waste into useable nutrients, that promotes healthy plant growth.
Bill Mollison and David Holmgren
The concept of Permaculture was developed by Bill Mollison, together with David Holmgren; in Australia. Born in 1928 Mollison is often called the Father of Permaculture. With David Holmgren he co-developed an integrated system of design. This encompasses agriculture, horticulture, ecology, strategies on land access, architecture, as well as financial and legal management of businesses and communities.
Sustainable agriculture was a concept that was developed before it became associated with the term Masanobu Fukuoka, a microbiologist, left his career as a scientist to develop a sustainable organic farming system that replicates nature as closely as possible. The ground isn't ploughed and seeds germinate on the soil surface, species are chosen to out-compete weeds, and cover crops are slashed and left on the soil surface to break down. Straw from the previous season's crops is slashed and used as mulch: ducks are used to clean up unwanted pests and so on. Fukuoka's system is also remarkably low in labour inputs.
Learn about Organics with ACS
We offer an extensive range of gardening and horticulture courses, including Organic Plant Culture. Our courses have been developed by expert horticulturists from around the world. They are available to start at any time. The courses are studied by distance learning, but also include many practical elements as part of the course meaning you can apply your learning whilst you progress through your course.
In addition, we have published a wide range of eBooks, as well as our new Short Courses. Links to some of the eBooks available are shown at the bottom of this page. Both eBooks and Short Courses provide a great introduction to subject areas, as well as providing useful sources of reference.
If you are interested in studying an ACS course, but would like to find out more, get in touch with our specialist Horticulture tutors today - they will be pleased to help you.
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This courses includes the PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate); and more.