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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

IMCPA Conference Day 1

Tuesday, 09 October 2018 / Published in Reports / 973 views

European Farm Conference, September 7 -9th 2018 – Karuna Bhavan Eco Farm – Scotland brings ISKCON higher leadership, the local MP and delegates from other continents together

Day 1 – September the 7th, Written by the IMCPA team.

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The conference was a great success inspiring over 40 participants from all over Europe attended including members from ISKCON higher leadership in the Uk and the event even brought the local member of Parliament. The conference in Europe is reaping the fruits of years of careful cultivation. The cooperation among projects is increasing and Europe heads towards having regional representatives for cow protection and agriculture in its 8 zones.

This is a full report of the conference in three separate days. The Karuna Bhavan eco-farm is situated about 30 minutes drive from Glasgow, it is strategically located next to one of the biggest capital in animal rights in Europe. Glasgow holds one of the largest Vegan communities in Europe. Scotland also holds the headquarters of the largest ecovillage network, GEN. Stay with us to follow the exciting developments of the conference, here published as three different days.

Opening the conference

GBC for the UK and Scandinavia – Praghosh Prabhu

Opened the conference by remembering how he and few of his friends started a small community in southern Ireland primarily because they did not want to raise their children in the city. They had a goshala, grew vegetables and at the heart of the community was a small school.

He then went on to draw connection with the looming Brexit decision of the UK and how this might affect our food supply. Should we be buying our food from another country or should we be producing it ourselves. He further reflected that often farmers work on their own and have a high suicide rate due to the isolation and it would be better if they were working in a community context. Looking forward to the conference he explained that animals are sentient beings and animal welfare should be conducted within that understanding. He was happy to be together with so many participants who were involved in farm development and encouraged them to develop their projects to the fullest extent

Lisa Cameron (local Member of Parliament) and acting as the representative of Nicola Sturgeon (Scotland First Minister) who was not able to attend due to other commitments.

Lisa Cameron thanked the temple for inviting her to the conference and the farm. She was looking forward to the tour and for hearing our ideas. Her background for the past 20 years is in the National Health Service and is a doctor in Psychology specializing in mental health. She is on the health committee of the Scottish government

She informed the conference how there is much concern about antibiotic resistance and cited the prescribing of unnecessary antibiotics to people as one of the reasons. Within farming there was also much use of antibiotics and shared her research into the amount of antibiotics used in fish farms.

Lisa stated she is very interested in sustainable farming and animal welfare. Her group worked on legislation for dog welfare in regards to third party puppy farms. Only accredited kennels should be permitted and not puppy farms.

She was very interested in what the Karuna Bhavan and ISKCON community are doing and wants to keep in touch. She said there is much we can learn from each other. There needs to be a sustainable future. She was aware how large companies are treating people around the world

Smita Krishna Maharaja – European Minister for Cow Protection and Agriculture.

He is a monk and does not mind helping out on the land. Maharaja encouraged the listeners to take interest in the land and the cows. He was raised in the countryside and would go to a local farmer for milk fresh from the cow for a small price. Later on his mother said he should help the farmer with his harvesting, stacking and bringing hay into the barn.

As a devotee he saw cows everywhere in India. As he travelled he saw that there was so much grass and so much was wasted. Later on the movement bought farms and also in Almviksgaard Sweden. He has been with the cows for 30 years and helps out. As cows live for 20 years he saw the whole cycle of life. He would often help them with their care at the end of their lives.

There needs to be communities and you can’t have a farm without a village. The Swedish farm is part of a village and in that way has survived for 20 years and more. He has been part of the farm conferences from the beginning and now he has ended up being the European minister of Agriculture and Cow Protection. He looked forward to how it was going on. He thinks these conferences will make a difference for society.

Global Minister for Cow Protection and Agriculture (IMCPA) – Kalakantha Prabhu.

He is well travelled in the service globally. He is concerned and active about the global cohesion about farms. It was a pleasure to be at the conference and this was the largest conference so far. He appreciated that the GBC are connecting with those on the ground. These farm conferences have grown into a family. We are working on solutions together. He shared how he came to be farm Minister and how it was fulfilling something he wanted to help with from his childhood. He is bridging the gap between the farms and the GBC and renowned institutions. He appreciated New Govardhana Australia and ECO Vrindaban USA sending presenters who are also assisting to set up similar conferences in their areas.

ISKCON celebrated its 50th anniversary and there has been 50 years of cow protection. He reflected on how the first cow was called Kaliya and how this cow had a relationship with Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada inaugurated cow protection in our society.

Animal welfare is very important and many people are becoming vegans. Cow protection in ISKCON needs to show that it works in practice, and today where viewing waste as a valuable resource is a trend, ISKCON holds the potential to show how ethical dairy, where all the gifts from the cows are used, might be an answer to the issue of global warming caused by the unethical commercial dairy.

This is the eleventh farm conference. We are understanding collectively the challenges and finding collective solutions. Developing a shared vision. There is a network of experts and we are making their expertise available by offering ways that help to understand the ecosystems around us, and connecting this natural environment to the divine is an important aspect of yoga.

One of our goals is to connect continental teams. We want to have a summit meeting in 2020 where all the continents are represented. He invited ideas and suggestions for that summit. What do we want to tell the world. What do we want to share with the world. There is much to be done in terms of inviting, planning and other many aspects of the summit. The ministry IMCPA, calls for collective help for this unique event..

Conference Sessions

Presentations and workshops in Scotland included:

  • Increase of Cow Protection leading to an increase in Slaughter free milk (UK)

  • Govindas Restaurants and Cow Protection (UK)

  • GEN (Global Ecovillage Network) Network Building (GEN)

  • Farm presentations/Reports from-

Madrid Eco Farm, Inis Rath community, New Govardhana Farm Australia,

  • Krishna Village in New Govardhana (Australia)

  • Ahimsa Dairy Foundation (UK)

  • Economy and the mode of Goodness (IMCPA)

  • Wool spinning workshop (SCOTLAND)

  • Downer cows care (UK)

  • Food Dehydration demonstration (SCOTLAND)

  • Feasibility study of a small goshala (UK)

  • Youth engagement and responsibility (GEN)

  • Lazy Farming (SPAIN)

  • Community Seed Banking (ITALY, HUNGARY)

  • EVS– European Voluntary Services– Youth Grant Opportunities and challenges (SPAIN, HUNGARY)

  • Global Farm Summit 2020 (IMCPA)

To milk or Not to Milk – That is the question. – Praghosa Prabhu

There is pressure from the vegan movement. Are you a vegan? Do you drink commercial milk? We used to be cutting edge. Are you practicing what you preach? Vegan lobby is a real challenge. They have the high moral ground and can make passionate points. ‘Dairy takes babies from their mothers. Male calves taken immediately from their mothers (only a tiny fraction are kept as bulls)’.

We are vegetarian because we don’t want to hurt cows. Do we now have to become vegan?

Best option is to what Srila Prabhupada wanted us to do. Create self sufficient ahimsa farms. Difficult to do – but we have to do this. These self sufficient cow protection projects are the solution. Self sustaining farms are not an easy thing.

Srila Prabhupada’s Key advice

  • Simple living . Accept bare necessities of life even though it is inconvenient compared with modern living. Requires hard work and endurance

  • Solves economic Problems. If there is enough grains and milk all economic problems are solved

  • We cannot live on milk alone. Need food not just milk. Milk is the principle food but not the only thing. There needs to be vegetables and grains

  • Independence. Don’t be implicated in the ugra karma way of life

  • The missing link – Farms and Restaurants. Viability of farming projects helped by this link. Protecting cows. Gathering Milk. Making ghee. Hare Krishna Restaurants. Can sell ghee to the restaurants

Restaurants are generating funds and farms are generating funds by selling produce

Ajita prabhu comment ‘Cow has a dharma and it is sinful to remove the dharma from a person. The dharma of a cow is to give milk’

Increase Cow Protection which leads to an increase in slaughter free milk

There is a huge market for milk from protected cows and we as a society are not meeting it. Hardly a farm is producing its own milk and hardly a devotee is drinking milk from a protected cow. If we don’t produce cow protection milk who else will do it. If somebody else does it we will regret that we did not do it.

Statements about the need for cow protection and farms are not enough, we must put farm and cow protection into a practical shape.

Cow protection milk costs about £3.50 to £4.00 per litre to produce. If you accept this price then you can have cow protection. How big your cow protection project is will depend on how many people are willing to pay this price for the milk. In the example of the Ahimsa Dairy Foundation we find there are 1000 people waiting to buy ahimsa milk, of which 500 are devotees. Accepting this price is a fundamental point in establishing cow protection projects.

Cow protection is based on having people. If you want stable cow protection you must have stable people. The name Grihasta suggests a degree of stability. Stay, stuck, still, stable, static, grihasta. Brahmacari suggests motion. Cari to wander. If you want stable goshalas you must have stable people and this can better be achieved by grihasthas.

If you want grihasthas you need to provide the things that grihastas require. A cow needs, grass, shelter, water and a carer. A cows needs are simple a householder (grihasta) needs a home, needs work, facilities for children, a social structure and a means to accumulate wealth. If you don’t provide these things for a grihasta a grihasta will go elsewhere for these things. To get stable people pay them well enough to keep them there. If you don’t support the people you won’t have the people. If you provide a livelihood for people you will have people. In the Uk the minimum wage is £7.25 perhaps we should pay say £10 per hour for cow protectors.

To ensure a goshala is sustainable it is important that a goshala is growing and developing. There is a huge need for cow protection milk, if our goshalas are not growing to meet it then how will the demand be met. Maintaining a goshala is likely to lead to a shrinking and declining goshala. I have read in a vedanga that if you don’t try to increase your wealth you will lose your wealth. You cannot just maintain the wealth you have. It must be actively increased. For goshalas to be sustainable there needs to be an going focus on development and expansion. There perhaps needs to be a team above the immediate goshala management who are looking always at the next stage of development.

For funding goshala expansion there is huge untapped good will that will express itself as donated money. Every goshala takes this into account. If you want stable fund raising then you must take care of the persons fund raising.

Give Cow Protection a practical shape

Accept the price of cow protection milk

Base goshala on householders/grishastas

Pay the grihastha well enough for them to stay

Expand the goshala for sustainability

Establish a team who are looking always for the next stage of growth

Funds are there you just have to shape your attempt at getting it

Karuna Bhavan – Ecological Farm.

Situated in Lesmahagow (south of Glasgow), Scotland.In the afternoon the conference was shown numerous aspects of the ecological and money saving activities of the farm, namely :

  • Two 11kw wind turbines are harnessing the windy conditions of hilly karuna bhavan. £100,000 pounds was given as interest free loan from the Scottish government. This has been paid back already and the wind turbines are a net income generator for the community. The electricity is produced and sold into the grid. The community buys its electricity from the grid at a higher rate than they receive for their electricity but there is more money made from electricity production that it costs them to use.

  • Biomass boiler. The community uses about 100m3 a year of wood to feed its boiler. The boiler is about 90% efficient (in comparison a garden stove is about 30% efficient) in that it burns the gases that come from the initial burning of the wood. The heat is transferred into water storage tanks and that is pumped around the main buildings. Wood is delivered either in 1m3 boxes or cut and split wood or in 3m lengths which are cut and split on site. The 3m lengths are more cost effective. Similarly they have found that using straight softwood is more cost effective than using misshapen hardwoods.

  • Flowers. Karuna bhavan has a high degree of self sufficiency in flowers. They grow their own flowers in season and in winter they used dried flower vases (made from the flowers grown in season).

  • Alpacas (smaller llama). The community has a wool spinning team who process raw fleece to wool and then into various products. Three alpacas were given to the community because they would protect them and they would use the fleece. Taking on alpacas was seen by some as a stepping stone into keeping cows.

  • Vegetables. Many of the preparations cooked during the conference were from the farms own land. One devotee oversees the garden and is assisted by wwoofers and Helpx volunteers. There is a one acre walled garden full of vegetables, flowers and fruits.

End of day one.

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