Plan Organic

Why another organic food website?
Having used the Web extensively for research into alternative agriculture and food, I felt that a guide to the better sources would be of considerable use. The collection and selection of other types of information e.g. recommended publications, articles etc, together with a relatively independent, strong viewpoint would also add to the quality of resources on the subjects.

What I do that’s different.
In some ways planorganic.com is similar to other sites but I feel the mix of information and comment on the site is different and should prove interesting, informative and stimulating to visitors. For one thing, I believe that my selected weekly news and interpretation is unique. My ambition is to contribute instead of duplicate; to critically comment rather than acquiesce in any party line. There are many good sites on, or related to, organic food production on the Web and I recommend the best of them in Links page. Sites doing a good job already, e.g. www.organicts.com, as a news provider (mainly), and www.ngin.org.uk as an anti-GM information site, I unashamedly promote rather than compete with.

No Slave to Organic
Also, although I am strenuously for alternatives to industrialised agriculture and decidedly in favour of natural food production, I do not take an automatic, pro-organic line. Indeed I have many criticisms of the organic movement. I represent, from within the general movement towards agricultural change, an independent, un-affiliated position with a distinctive emphasis. I believe the safety and quality of our food is, or should be, of paramount importance, the Issue of the Age – a basic human right. Its accessibility, especially through prices and value, is just as important. Wherever any agricultural system falls short of these ideals, organic or otherwise, I’ll hopefully be there to criticise and comment.

My Ideal
My ideal would be to see farmers change to natural food production methods because it’s the right thing to do, for themselves, their families and the wider community.
Farmers markets and direct selling from farm to consumer is probably where the ethical future lies but in the meantime the priority, as I see it, should be to get as much clean produce out there in the market-place as soon as possible and at the lowest possible cost..
My model would be Frank Newman Turner’s, “fertility farming” methods of the ’40s and 50′s which, I believe, promise the best solution to our food problems – cheap healthy food from profitable sustainable agriculture with minimum regulatory inputs from govt. and other bodies. There are many references in this site to his methods and publications. His books, are still available through an American site, http://home.earthlink.net/~brateaver/books/index.htm
The views of Prof. Jules Pretty (University of Exeter) are ones that I am very much in sympathy with. His most recent book is Agri-Culture: Reconnecting People, Land and Nature. See Publications page for more.

Why the name “planorganic.com”?
That agriculture is in major need of reform is now beyond question. Drastic action is needed to effect this change, quickly, in line with consumers’ demands. “Action plans” to accelerate this change are being discussed universally e.g. in Denmark, Germany, Austria and the UK. The imperative tone of the phrase “Plan Organic”, given the magnitude of the problems and their health and life-threatening aspects is, I feel, an appropriate one.
The site is very much a project-in-development and I hope to evolve quickly in response to your feed-back, and as more resources become available.

I’m well aware that the site design and content are a bit raw and that there have been some problems (now largely resolved) with our server. I’m very new to all this, particularly the web-techie stuff. The design, a MS “theme” ( a nightmare apparently to some designers and servers) was practically an accident, that for simplicity’s sake, I decided to run with for the time being. My means are slim and I have to juggle the very different needs of my “beyond-organic” gardening, a life, building a house/shelter and the website.
But I’m learning as I go and I take encouragement from the support – from Texas to Thailand to Termonfecken – and suggestions that keep pouring in.
It is gratifying to find that I’m meeting a strong need, as the volume of hits, over 150,000 per month, March 2004, indicates. I still haven’t presented the site to many search engines but I have enlisted with www.google.com who give the site an exceptionally high rating in many organic categories. A large number of new visitors come via Google. I haven’t given much attention yet to marketing but I’ve more than enough to do at present dealing with the correspondence already generated and on-going site maintenance and content creation.
There’s a new design coming along in 2004 which will have a few necessary bells and whistles, like a better search facility, improved scrolling and archiving and more graphics. This will give me extra confidence to broadcast the site more widely.
I started well; I was first in the world with the report on the Danish Organic Conference in May 2001 – without attending! – which was taken up by many news’ agencies.
I’ve had several firsts again since then, and that was all very nice and exciting. But it’s not the main purpose of the site, about which, I have to keep reminding myself.
The Mission Statement, as they grandiosely call this type of thing on the Web, my motto, slogan, whatever, is:

Healthy Food For All, Quickly, Cheaply.

Somebody offered me a job recently; this was my reply.
The fundamental reason for doing my website is to help push the organic/sustainable farming movement along as much as possible. I feel that the structure I am arriving at suits fairly well my ambition and my abilities to further this ideal.
To be honest, I would regard myself as being fairly unemployable in normal circumstances; even in the areas of environmental journalism. All my life I’ve been self-employed. In latter years I have increasingly engaged only in areas that motivate me idealistically.
I have little patience for anything that detracts from my main goal.
For 20 years I have been advocating organic and other alternatives to industrial farming.
In the last five, I’ve been experimenting with various methods.
And for the next five, at least, I am going to do my damnnedst to push the organic/sustainable cause in the communications’ media.

I am no genius, that’s for sure, but occasionally I feel I get it right and make a difference. I’ve had some success with letter-writing on environmental issues, being published in all our quality papers here and in the UK – and once famously in Time magazine. I have spoken at colleges and at food conferences, at one, delivering a paper called, The Killing Fields. This was an attempt at putting forward a vision for the future of Irish farming. I squirm a little now at its naivety but I still stand by it’s main thrust.
I am chokingly exasperated at the snail’s pace development of the organic industry generally but especially here in this so-called Green Island of ours.
For goodness sake let’s speed it up!
To do that I would hitch myself to the wagon that best promises to achieve that goal. But to be honest, the only wagon remotely in sight capable of carrying me to that objective is this website. It has been very gratifying these last eighteen months, feeling – nay, knowing – that planorganic.com is a good medium for influencing things to a significant extent.
So, although I could badly do with the money, I must decline your kind and well-meaning offer. Thanks for all and especially the encouragement in what I’m doing.

Leave Comment