European Farm Conference report 2018 – Day Three
European Farm Conference 2018 – Seed banking and Youth Engagement two powerful tools – Karuna Bhavan Eco Farm ,
Day Three, the 9th of September 2018. Written by the IMCPA team.
Reflections on Conference so far – Prabhupada pran Prabhu – Temple President of Karuna Bhavan
Taking on Cow Protection is a serious process. There are the issues with downer cows, keeping bulls and ensuring that cows earn their keep. Even large farms have to address many issues. We are leaving the conference with new ideas. Many have talked about Karuna Bhavan having cows. There is a desire that devotees want to work with nature.
Next GEN (Youth in the Global Ecovillage Network) – Zoom conference with participants of GEN around Europe (Sweden and findhorn – North Scotland).
How we can empower our youth in the decision making process
Next GEN has monthly meetings on the zoom platform. There are two representatives from each part of the world and in addition there are two representatives from the youth (next GEN). There are continental networks around the world.GEN Europe is the strongest. We are constantly trying to strengthen the network. Individual communities can be members of GEN.
The network enables sharing of what is happening in different parts of the world. It supports new communities and is embryonic.
Youth need to have some ownership of the network. Being members is not enough but there needs to be active participation to keep people’s interest. Should pay close attention to how information flows up and down and keep an equality of it.
Officers need a level of autonomy to work and can’t wait for global agreement. Youth are often troubled by not having enough scope for impacting the decision process. To bring in new people they have to feel it is there project. Inevitably that there will be a change in direction with new people join the network. Allow strong people to shape the network. Many youth are disillusioned by many things and don’t know how to get involved. They often float in and float out of the communities. For Next GEN to work there has to be a high sense of sister and brotherhood. Youth only want to move. There is always the challenge of wanting the best person on a board who has strong wisdom and that is not always there in the youth. A need to bring youth in to empower them. If the youth are not fully represented then there is a need to rethink how youth can be a role and responsibility.
A need to value what the youth bring and to let it grow. Be aware of this and meet them with empathy and compassion. Allow the youth to fully engage themselves. Youth may have energy for new things but may not have long perspective. Much trial and error on how to harness and the youth and not push them. Youth often want to attend but need money and don’t have positions. They have energy for working and experimenting. To get the youth involved you may need to cover their costs or pay them something. ERASMUS PLUS is a European format for getting funding for engagement of youth.
Try to understand what youth need and we can meet them. Often they carry pain and victimhood. Don’t hide away from the trauma. Create spaces to share trauma so energy is being dealt with. Make a space for anybody to come with a facilitated space to express.
One third of the GEN Europe are spiritual communities another third or on a spiritual path but of diverse shape. One third are not connected with spirituality. The largest communities are spiritual and the smallest are non spiritual.
Make sure as you build physical structures there are social structures. Some techniques used are, non violent communication, talk in a similar way, before any work is done have a period of togetherness, personal development as well as conflict resolution. Need to create a social glue. Older communities can help new communities. Celebrating together is very important and it is suggested that 25% of the time should be spent doing this for things that are joyful, sadness etc. there is a need for a space to celebrate.
ISKCON Rural Development and Youth – Jalamarahari Prabhu – North Spain
There is a rural development in the north of spain with a river and close to the ocean. Jalamarahari shared (humorously) how he had given up on raised beds and preferred “lazy farming”. His method is quite simple. Get a load of grass cuttings and lay them out on the ground, part the cuttings to one side and plant your plant (already as a seedling), water the plant, chant Hare Krishna and leave it alone until it is time to harvest about 2 months later. For potatoes he lays out the potatoes on rows one foot apart (if you are not sure what a foot is compared to decimal measurements look at the end of your leg and use that) covers them with a thick layer of grass cuttings, Chants Hare Krishna and leaves them to it. Harvesting is very simple you just pull up the potatoes plants and take off the potatoes. If there are any weeds that do appear they can be suppressed with more cuttings or a simple pull out.
In addition to the farming Jalamarahari Prabhu is working with the youth (supported by European grants) in travelling around Europe to many projects and events. More information about European grant opportunities can be found from a team of devotees at http//eupronet.org/
Community Seed Banking – Gea , Rural Seed Direct– Florence Italy.
There was a detailed presentation showing the work done in seed banking in Italy. One aspect of their work is in keeping ancient grains. Food is meant to give strength. There are many sicknesses coming through food. Previously people ate less but the quality was better.
Members of the seed banks are collective groups and not individuals. They represent many local associations. The seed bank network are trying to establish Diversified sustainable local farming systems. They are looking at crop diversity and forgotten diversity. The wheat family is very important. Bring different varieties in the same field. Some seeds will adapt to local conditions. Our pallets are not used to certain tastes anymore which might be healthier in many ways. Seed Direct work to offer quality ancient seeds to many farmers and they have been with the European Conference since 2016 and are offering valuable help to shape ISKCON seed bank program. Their consultancy has started in Italy, through the Italian network member Gunagrahi das.
What next from the Ministry – Kalakantha Prabhu.
Continental conferences. Ministry is working on developing the continental conferences template further. So far in addition to Europe there have been conferences in the USA, south America and India. Soon there will be a conference in Russia, Ukraine and in Australia.
Global summit 2020. In 2020 there a proposal for a summit meeting in India (coinciding with the ILS in Mayapur) and in Europe. If there are any suggestions for content, funding, materials, speakers etc please contact the ministry.
European Ministry Sub divisional representatives. In Europe there will be sub-divisional representatives of the European Ministry. These devotees will travel and help with the networking and supervision and encouragement of cow protection and agriculture.
Certificate of Readiness. On a global level the ministry is working on a certificate of readiness that will be a requirement for any goshala that wants to be ISKCON approved. This certification process will ensure applicants are fully aware of the responsibilities for cow protection over the full life of the herd. It will require detailed analysis of herd growth, milk yield projection, budget setting for years 1, 2, 3, 5, 10 and 15, land analysis and building needs assessment. It will also include a full audit of work and service requirements for the project and ensure it is properly balanced between secured maintained people and voluntary assistance.
Goshala Managers Course. In support of the certificate of Readiness and to ensure a skilled pool of goshala managers there will be a course prepared and rolled out in the summer of 2019. This course is currently planned to be delivered in the USA and in Europe. Ox training and work allocation will be taught as well some aspects of crop growing and land management. The course should enable the successful student to run a goshala and it should also give temples and farms confidence in securing skilled persons for their projects.
Where next for the European Conference. Each participant was asked to cast one vote for their preferred venue for the next farm conference. It was also decided that only those places that have not hosted a conference would be considered. The remaining farms not yet hosted a farm conference are Inisrath – Ireland, Polish farm, Czech farm and Radhadesh. Most votes went in favour of the Czech farm with Radhadesh as second option.
After many appreciations and thanks for those who helped make the conference a success and especially for the community of Karuna Bhavan, Lesmahagow Scotland, whilst only small in number, extended themselves selflessly to prepare for and host the conference the proceedings were brought to an end.
Participants left elated, enthused and with new ideas and inspirations for their own projects.
End of the Conference.