Agriculture the A, B & C?
“I have been shown that study in agricultural lines should be the A, B, and C, of the educational work of our school (Avondale). This institution must not depend upon imported produce, for the fruits so essential to healthfulness, and for their grains and vegetables. This is the very first work that must be entered upon. Then as we shall advance and add to our facilities, advance studies and object lessons should come in.” Spalding and Magan p.134
The founders of Eastward recognised God’s call for agricultural to be an integral part of our education program. In the first year of operation Justin Epps taught an organic gardening class, and lead out as students and teachers cleared by hand a patch of bush and turned it into a productive terraced garden. Since that time gardening has featured during most years of classes, with the predominant aim being to balance the educational experience with useful labour, and to provide physical exercise and a little practical experience in agriculture.
But we have never since provided “study in agricultural lines” for our students, nor come anywhere close to meeting God’s objectives for a self-sustaining agricultural program as described above. It was certainly not “the very first work” that we entered upon as a matter of priority, and neither has it been our subsequent work to date. It is time to rectify this situation, which I believe is one of the major factors that has hindered our intended “advance”. So...
Agriculture the A, B, & C!
The Eastward garden is being redesigned and expanded to lay a new foundation for this work. This foundation must provide an inspiring practical training and character building experience, and opportunities for students to work their way through their education at Eastward. It must provide quantities of high quality fresh food to market profitably to our neighbours and those that live in “the cities” nearby as a primary means of mingling/witnessing/evangelism - taking advantage of the booming interest in locally grown produce that enables us to sell direct to our customers via online and farmer’s market sales. We have begun this already in a small way (please let me know if you would like to receive our weekly email) - we have much to learn!
In the last few weeks, our old garden beds have been ploughed up in preparation for our new permanent raised bed system. Some of the ground was pretty hard, and we were so thankful to be able to call upon our new tractor and chisel plough to help us out! The new bed system will standardise all of our raised beds. This standardisation makes calculating compost/fertiliser needs very simple, simplifies production planning and crop rotation, allows our row cover, tarps, irrigation etc to be standardised - all adding greatly to our efficiency. Each raised bed will be 27m long and 0.75m wide (with paths of 450mm), giving each bed an area of 20m2. The beds will be in 7 blocks of 10 beds each, again simplifying management.
Returning to Our Roots
I have been inspired by the recent formation of the Adventist Agriculture Association (AdAgrA) in the US. They have held a number of very popular conventions (find seminar audio’s at www.audioverse.org), and are at the forefront of encouraging Adventist Christians to take back our rightful place working with God in the garden. These growers are developing/promoting a profitable model of biologically intensive small scale vegetable/small fruits market gardening enterprise that meets God’s loving objectives of self support, character and industrial training, and multifaceted community evangelism. It is this model that I want to establish here at Eastward, and then as opportunities arise, share what we learn with others.
We are at the beginning of what I know will be a very inspiring, challenging, faith building, humbling experience. Maybe you also have felt God’s call for you to spend time in the garden with Him? "He who taught Adam and Eve how to tend the garden, desires to instruct men today.” (MH 200). Time is short - are you ready to put God’s plan into action?
- Rod Bailey
"In God's plan for Israel every family had a home on the land, with sufficient ground for tilling. Thus were provided both the means and the incentive for a useful, industrious, and self-supporting life. And no devising of men has ever improved upon that plan.” Ministry of Healing p.183