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Lord Northbourne (Walter James; 1896-1982) coined the term “organic farming”.  The term first appeared in Northbourne’s book “Look to the Land”, his manifesto of organic agriculture, first published in London in 1940..
Northbourne was influenced by the work of the Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Biodynamic Farming. In 1939 Northbourne sponsored the first biodynamic agriculture conference held in Britain. It was held at his estate, Betteshanger, in Kent and included presentations by leading advocates of biodynamics including Dr Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, author of “Biodynamic Farming and Gardening” published in 1938. Less than a year after the Betteshanger biodynamics conference, Northbourne published “Look to the Land”.
In advocating for organics Northbourne declared that: “Farming cannot be treated as a mixture of chemistry and cost accountancy, nor can it be pulled into conformity with the exigencies of modern business, in which speed, cheapness, and standardizing count most. Nature will not be driven. If you try, she hits back slowly, but very hard”.
Northbourne wrote of the contest of organic versus chemical farming. His view was that such a contest might last decades or even centuries.
Notes and references
- Paull, John (2014) Lord Northbourne, the man who invented organic farming, a biography. Journal of Organic Systems, 9(1), 31-53.
- Northbourne, Lord (1940). Look to the Land. London: Dent.
- Pfeiffer, Ehrenfried (1938). Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening: Soil Fertility Renewal and Preservation. New York: Anthroposophic Press.
- Paull, John (2011) "The Betteshanger Summer School: Missing link between biodynamic agriculture and organic farming", Journal of Organic Systems, 2011, 6(2):13-26.