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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: Arriving at New Govardhana | The history of New Govardhana | The WWOOFing program | Sources of information | Approach to growing food | Self-sufficiency


The community itself doesn’t immediately lend itself easily, it does lend itself but not easily, to a completely sort of enclosed self-sufficient environment. Like say the way the Amish live, cause we have a huge lot of people visiting us all the time, and they eat [laughs]. It’s not a situation where we have withdrawn from the world to into a small community. Most, or some of these people, they’re.. like my friend Lunda he’s got seven children, so his first priority is not self-sufficiency, and his oldest is Rupert, he’s like 15 or 16, youngest is maybe 6 months old. No Mundy would be like ten months old now.

Anyway, in other words you don’t have a group of young idealistic people who are thinking, that’s, our primary thing is self-sufficiently and we’re prepared to have cold showers and give up cars and all that stuff. We got quite a diverse community here. There’s a school here, with 60 or 70 kids, primary school. So there’s many different things that go on here. And um huge catering, huge.

Self-sufficiency you could say is a positive value for us. And something that we, not in a very fanatical or zealous way we are aiming for but something we definitely have as a goal. But that’s integrated amongst a constellation of goals which we all place positive value on.

Our founder’s name was Prabhupada, and he basically brought a sort of, conservative, mainstream, old school , what do they call it, Vaishnavism, sort of like ancient Hinduism, we could say. Hinduism is a bit of a misnomer. Basically you’ve got people to the west of South Asia, Middle East, like that. And basically any-body on the other side of the Sindu River is a Sindu. Which basically how that came about. That word’s about maybe 700 years old. And Hindu’s themselves, so people who practice what we call Hinduism, that culturally is only about a 100 years old.

Before Vivekananda, no Hindu would think to ever call themselves a Hindu. Unless they were in a strange situation where Muslims were calling them Hindus, or Muslims happen to be in governmental power with life or death influence over you immediate future, than you might say yes, we’ll be Hindu’s temporarily; while we’re in such a vulnerable state. But actually, it’s almost like how the people in the Middle East would feel, or people coming out of one of those traditions to be called, if you were a Christian (like I say my parents are Christian missionaries) to call them a Middle Eastern religion, or something. Religionist, I guess is the perfect word. That roughly how it is. You’ve got a broad spectrum of religious traditions coming out of the Middle East and if you just sort of go, “yeah they’re of Middle Eastern religions” whether you’re Protestant, or a Ascetic Jew a follower of Islam, or a Sufi or whatever. Similarly Hinduism actually even more so, actually was a whole bunch of different religions. Mahabites and Shaivites and worshippers of the goddess, Shaktis, mystics, yogis, Tantricers, and the biggest one of those is Vaishnas, which is what were are. That’s sort of the main core of that Ancient tradition, which is a monotheistic tradition.

So he brought many goals. But one of his stated, you know, it’s not a, it’s not a primary thing or our main focus, but it is a stated part of his mission statement, to become gradually more and more self-sufficient. And he coined the frame which I think comes from some Greek phrase, like Plato, which is “simple living, high thinking”. So just to come to a farm, we simply live happily, sunshine, fresh air, fresh veges, fresh food, good company, a focus on spirituality and relationships, good relationships, families and friendship and romance. And live simply, live happily, and part of that is that definitely self-sufficiency. Otherwise like Marx said you’re means of production will powerfully influence whatever society community you have. So if our means of production is all coming from the outside, then that outside influence will have a powerful thing you know.  And if there’s some elements to the outside world, or the mainstream world which you don’t want, it creates a natural conflict.

So self-sufficiency is empowering in that sense. You can um, more, ah, design your own life; actually.

That would definitely affect us if our primary concern was what will sell at Coles. That would definitely change what we do. Definitely. But yeah our primary concern is what the Temple wants, and what the restaurant and more and more so before we get out of this WWOOFer volunteer circle, what they want. I get them as much fruit as I possibly can. Heaps. They go through a tremendous amount of fruit, on a daily basis, woofer and volunteers. They tend to be young, they tend to be vegetarian, they tend to be health orientated, almost like a yoga demographic or a LOHAS demographic, (lifestyles of health and sustainability) demographic. Maybe a little younger than yoga, and not so feminine. Yoga’s, when we were doing those studies 86% women. Whereas, we are more or less 50/50. So we’re a little bit different, but something like that. So they love fruit, they love organic, they’ll take silverbeet leaves straight out of the garden that they worked on. Go over here, pick a couple of bananas of the tree, mix with a little whatever, put it in the blender and that will be their breakfast. And they love that kind of life. And I love that kind of life for them. So more and more our focus in driven by the needs of the WWOOFers and volunteers (who place health as a high value in their eating habits), then the temple, then the restaurant also; and very lastly as an afterthought whatever we have surplus we trade. But that doesn’t really effect how we think to grow.


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