AN ODE TO LAND
by Satish Kumar
We have gathered here in Oxford to declare our allegiance to the land. We make a commitment to take care of the land. Our lives and the lives of all living beings depend on her. The Land is our home. The Land is our identity. The Land is our community. It is through the land that we are connected with our ancestors and it is through the land that we connect with future generations. The land never fails us. The Land never lets us go hungry. If the land flourishes, we flourish. If the land is depleted we are depleted.
The Land is neither a commodity nor a machine. The Land is a living organism. Land is a sacred gift to life from Gaia, the Goddess of the Earth. And it is our sacred responsibility to receive the gifts of land with humility and gratitude.
We have no ownership over the land we have only relationship with the land. Land is held in trust by us, the real farmers. We hand over this trusteeship to the next generation of real farmers, when the time comes.
The Land is our true security and our true life insurance policy, provided we enter in the covenant of care and symbiotic relationship. As land feeds us we feed the land. It is a relationship of reciprocity and mutuality. Land and life thrive together.
Let us take an oath of loyalty to the land. And commit ourselves to taking care of her. If we take care of the land, she will take care of us and of everything else. Therefore let us be responsible members of the land community.
Commercial farmers treat the land as a resource for the economy, a resource for making money. They engage in extractive methods of farming. Real farmers treat land as a source of life itself. They engage in regenerative ways of agriculture. Real farmers never take more than what the land can happily give; and they never take more than they need. Real farmers understand the economy of the land and abide by the law of the land, rather than being driven by greed and growth.
Let us sustain the land with our love so that the land can sustain life on Earth for ever. The Land is our mother, we are children of the land.
What is good for the land is also good for the people. Therefore we should never damage the land or do any harm to the land. We farmers will come and go but the land will remain here for ever. If in our ignorance we have done any damage to the land then it is our sacred duty to do everything in our power to restore good health to the land. By restoring the land we restore ourselves. Let us pledge to keep the land whole and healed for ever. It is the land which gives meaning and purpose to our lives. Therefore let us tread lightly on the land by keeping away from profligate lifestyles and insatiable consumption which impoverish the Earth, diminish common good and harm the human spirit.
The Land is our teacher and our spiritual guide. We can learn unconditional love and compassion from her. She looks after all living beings without any discrimination or judgment. Whether you are a king or a beggar, a priest or a prisoner, a human or an animal, all living beings are fed and nourished by the land equally. May we learn from the land and practice unconditional compassion and offer unconditional love and nourishment to all living beings without any discrimination or judgment.
The Land has the power to transform. She transforms seeds into plants, crops and trees providing flowers, fruits, grains, vegetables, herbs and spices. It is the land who knows how to make medicines. While doing so she produces more seeds for further regeneration. The Land is the Goddess of abundance. Let us celebrate this transformative power of land and rejoice in her abundant generosity. Let knowledge, wisdom and generosity of the land be the guiding lights for whole of humanity.
On behalf of Schumacher College and Resurgence Trust I offer my homage, thanks and gratitude to the land, to plants, to Nature, to real farmers, growers and gardeners who sustain life on our precious planet Earth.
I also offer my thanks and gratitude to the organisers of this great gathering of real farmers who are the salt of the Earth. As our future depends on land, our future also depends on you, the real farmers.