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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.

Go to: The foundations of the community  | Growing food  | Eating  | Self-sufficiency  | The community  | The Hare Krishna community’s relationship with the outside

Self-sufficiency

Now to do this, ah, this is what people term very quickly as self-sufficiency. Talk about self-sufficiency, that’s the big word. Anyway we’ll talk about that one, but self-sufficiency in communities there is five steps, because this is part of growing your food as well. But, you know you’ve got to take a reality check and see where you are at. I mean there’s the dreamers, like Einstein said, you know everybody can have an idea but, the real genius is actually in applying the idea. Everybody can have an idea, but applying it is another thing. And when you talk about self-sufficiency basically you mean growing your food. Um you have to develop a whole set of, you have to go through different stages so that you can achieve that, and that it doesn’t, it is not artificial because I have been to communities, where actually they are growing their food and are living a kind of simple life but its seriously artificial. If you pull this or that or if your actually be a little inquisitive in people’s mind you’ll find there is a certain discomfort there; because they are not at the level, they are not functioning at a level where they feel comfort… Water always finds its own level, but sometimes people function at a level where they don’t feel comfortable. That’s quiet dangerous if you try and achieve a goal too quickly, like that. I’ve been to some communities, yeah they grow their food, they pull, they do it with bullocks and this and that, but then you kind of look behind and you see the generator is there, the freezer is over there, you know they’ve got the gas line over there. It kind of… has to be comfortable. So to do that you have to have stages.

Every community, to become self-sufficient the first stage is to be free from bank loans. A lot of people, even individuals or communities, they are really attached to the bank. I mean they get a piece of land, they just get a loan. That itself destroys any kind of simple living consciousness. Because you are dependent on an organisation, you know, any things can happen. I’m sure you are aware of all that. So that’s the first stage.

The second stage is that you have to develop your own means of income. That you can’t be too dependent on some other things giving you the money that you require to establish your system; Because you are going to need money. It’s impossible to perform without some kind of money.

The third thing is that you have to develop a culture, wherever you are, whether it’s in your family, or whether in the community, the culture of growing food. Because you gotta, people are having habit nowadays to concrete everything. Like you know the grass you can mow it for the first 15 years of your life and after a while you go: “Oh my God, what are we doing, let’s get the guy in and concrete the place and be done with it.” In fact it does help for the aesthetics, and it does help for the maintenance because you can sit in the sofa and watch TV, it’s a lot easier. But the reality is that you lose that culture of growing your own food. And then you become so dependent, “My God you know, Coles is not open it’s Sunday, what are they doing?” You get that mentality that…, so you’ve gotta develop the culture of growing food.

And the fourth thing you’ve got to do, is actually whatever you do as an income, you’ve got to try and bring it at home. So whatever your work, by experience and development of that you should try and bring that so you can work from home. So you don’t move around too much. You can move of course but as your own will not that you are forced to jump in a train at 7 o’clock in the morning and get home at 7 o’clock at night. And when your kid looks at you and says, “Mum who’s that man coming in?” “Oh that’s you dad you know. But he’s being going at work five o’clock in the morning and coming.” So that’s got to be also reduced. Of course to reduce that one has to reduce his way of living, not put the bar up here, financial bar and try and jump it, by working so hard. So you’ve got to work within your means but its better being back at home.

And the fifth one, the last one, is actually you try and actually reduce the amount (this is specifically related to communities) but try and reduce the mechanisation utilised to grow your food. So therefore we are creating dams, we are putting water holes, we have bullock training. We’re trying to engage more and more man-power rather than the machines. So they’re the five stages and then there once you’re at home you’ve got some kind of income and you grow your own food, then you’ll find this culture of, you know, is more appropriate than the conventional growing. Whereas you know all big one thing, and then everybody comes and it’s sent everywhere all around Australia, all around the world and everybody buys it with the subsequent reactions to that.

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