organic gardening guidelines-introduction
What is organic agriculture?
The Canadian Standards for Organic Agriculture describe organic production as “a holistic system designed to optimize the productivity and fitness of diverse communities within the agroecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock and people. The principal goal of organic production is to develop enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.”
Lots of words! The description emphasizes that this is a proactive system and is much more than avoiding the application of poisons to your food, flowers, soil, yard. The ideals are more fully set out in the IFOAM principles, below.
The Principle of Health
Organic gardening should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one and indivisible. The health of individuals and communities cannot be separated from the health of ecosystems - healthy soils produce healthy crops that foster the health of animals and people.
Health is the wholeness and integrity of living systems. it is not simply the absence of illness, but the maintenance of physical, mental, social and ecological well-being. Immunity, resilience and regeneration are key characteristics of health.
The role of organic gardening is to sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and organisms from the smallest in the soil to human beings. In particular, organic gardening is intended to produce high quality, nutritious food that contributes to preventive health care and well-being. In view of this it should avoid the use of fertilizers, pesticides, animal drugs and food additives that may have adverse health effects.
The Principle of Ecology
Organic gardening should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them. This principle roots organic gardening within living ecological systems. It states that production is to be based on ecological processes, and recycling. Nourishment and well-being are achieved through the ecology of the specific production environment. Organic gardening should strive to attain ecological balance through the design of the garden, establishment of habitats and maintenance of genetic and agricultural diversity. The environment should be protected and benefited including landscapes, climate, habitats, biodiversity, air and water.
The Principle of Fairness
Organic gardening should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities. Fairness is characterized by equity, respect, justice and stewardship of the shared world; both among people and in their relations to other living beings.
This principle emphasizes that those involved in organic gardening should conduct human relationships in a manner that ensures fairness at all levels and to all parties. Organic gardening should provide everyone involved with a good quality of life, and contribute to food sovereignty and reduction of poverty. It aims to produce a sufficient supply of good quality food and other products. This principle insists that animals should be provided with the conditions and opportunities of life that accord with their physiology, natural behavior and well-being. Natural and environmental resources that are used for production and consumption should be managed in a way that is socially and ecologically just and should be held in trust for future generations. Fairness requires practices that are open and equitable and account for real environmental and social costs.
The Principle of Care
Organic gardening should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment. Organic gardening is a living and dynamic system that responds to internal and external demands and conditions. You may enhance efficiency and increase productivity, but this should not be at the risk of jeopardizing health and well-being. New technologies need to be assessed and existing methods reviewed. Given the incomplete understanding of ecosystems and agriculture, care must be taken.
Precaution and responsibility are the key concerns in management, development and technology choices. Science is necessary to ensure that organic production is healthy, safe and ecologically sound.
However, scientific knowledge alone is not sufficient. Practical experience, accumulated wisdom and traditional and indigenous knowledge offer valid solutions, tested by time. Decisions should reflect the values and needs of all who might be affected, through transparent and participatory processes. Significant risk should be prevented by adopting appropriate technologies and rejecting unpredictable ones, such as genetic engineering. (Principles for IFOAM Norms)
Incorporating the organic principles in the garden
How do you incorporate these principles in your garden? How does a gardener grow organically?
By following organic gardening guidelines
Guidelines "rate" different garden practices -
There are best practices, which are the ultimate goal
There acceptable practices, which are less desirable
There are practices which are acceptable, but not for regular use - try to phase these practices out over time, if you must ever use them
And there are practices which are never acceptable in an organic garden
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