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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.

The story is an edited version of a conversation between Ajita Cozzi, Hazel Ferguson and Tara Melis, on December 2, 2012.

It contains reflections on The foundations of the community  | Growing food  | Eating  | Self-sufficiency  | The community  | The Hare Krishna community’s relationship with the outside

My name is Ajita; and I manage the community. I came here in ’97. The community is currently 75 residents, plus the cows, another 75 or eighty cows, which are part of the residents as well. And we have a school, with about 65 children. Primary and secondary in 7/8 classes.


The foundations of the community

One of the reasons why this farm was purchased in 1977 is actually to produce food and to live like a community. More so, in a community that would be slightly independent of the grid in order to live a more simple life. The idea behind living a simple life is to dedicate oneself to spiritual research. That’s the idea behind it. But of course as time went by there were various problems which deviated from the original purpose, the original goal. And anyway there was a bit of a crisis in the mid-90s. Then gradually, when I came here I kind of studied the idea of growing food.

You’ve got to understand in the mid-90s you went to the Brisbane market and you could buy a box of cauliflowers for $2 and that wouldn’t even pay for the card board. And I often wondered, even our spiritual master, told us you know you’ve got to grow food, you gotta grow food, he insisted that world-wide you gotta grow. Obviously he had a vision that the works will come gradually to be, not what it is now, but is probably going to be soon, in terms of food production. And as you know with the different types of food production, like ah, what’s it, like, geo it’s called, isn’t it?

Genetically modified, GM, yeah.

GM. So gradually there’s a bit of resistance against that; but still people that are in the cities are very vulnerable. Because ah, just the other day there was an accident on a highway, I think it was yesterday or the day before, huge accident, it was all blocked up, three hours this way, three hours that way. And when there was that flood in 2010, and Coles was totally empty, everyone was panicking, people were actually fighting, same as Katrina. People were actually fighting in the supermarkets. So you can see that it is very fragile, because even a small disaster, then it’s ah…

So anyway I pondered, often wondered “why should we grow food when it’s easily available?” back in ’97. It was easily available. It was a lot harder to grow anything, for us anyway, than to just buy it. So then I kind of just left it aside and dealt with other things that were more urgent. But then as time went by I still kept the idea of cultivating, of, you know, keeping the culture of wanting to grow food. Because another thing I noticed also people are just not interested in growing food. I mean it seems like a nice sentimental idea, everything when you speak “oh yeah I have my little garden and this and that” but to do it as an ongoing thing, people are just not into it, you know. They just say, just um, want to do other things, want to go, to shop. Even to tell you the truth people are not even interested in cooking. So there’s a lot of people that don’t cook, and you’ll find that they just go out, buy something from a café or whatever. So what to speak of growing it, so they just buy ready stuff things to eat.

Of course, this kind of living has an effect on the consciousness. The idea, one of the ideas behind growing food is that you plant it, you grow it, you care for it, you harvest it, you cook it. Of course in our philosophy you offer it to God, and then you eat it. So all this has an effect on the way you are going to behave, the way your children are going to behave; the way your… you know, well-being, your whatever. It’s going to accumulate gradually and then if you eat too much of that junk food, or food prepared by others with a consciousness that you are not even aware of, it will have an effect. So it, the food, takes and effect from growing to harvesting. Maybe you have heard that but, you play a certain type of music to the food, it reacts differently.

You do different things to the plants they react differently. And so the consciousness of the individual dealing with the food from the time of planting to the time of harvesting, you know, has an effect; and then from there on. Also there’s another type of effect in the preparing, so that affects the consciousness of the living being. Of course people, mostly people, are unaware of that and you know, there’s so many conflicts, wars and so on. Not just due to that of course, there are other factors, which we won’t get into, like for example slaughter and things like that. which is a big part of the, the downturn of the way that the plan is going now. There’s also a lot of exploitation, like oil now they started fracking, which of course there is all in the planet and all this is meant to balance the planet. So when they extract too much one way or the other, it unbalances, it creates certain natural catastrophes like tsunamis and things like that.

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