Torbay Organic Gardening Society
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Why Organic?

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Quotations from some of the the great advocates of organic gardening:

Society, like a house, does not start at ground level, but begins quite literally beneath the surface of our planet, within the soil itself. For out of the soil are we fashioned, and by the products of the soil is our earthly existence maintained. If we destroy our soil – and it is not indestructible – mankind will vanish from the earth as surely as has the dinosaur. We are fond of extolling the achievements of man and are apt to talk with pride of his ‘conquest of nature’ (but) when man sets out to conquer nature by exploitation, it is a form of cannibalism, for man is part of nature.
Founder of the Soil Association, Lady Eve Balfour: The living soil. First published by Faber & Faber in 1943.
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An organic gardener is one who has given up chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Some (people) change on ethical grounds to stop pollution harmful to birds, bees and men, others to save money, since it is easy even at today’s vegetable prices to spend more on chemicals than you can save when growing your own food. In addition to cost, many people are concerned about the dangers of toxic pesticides building up in our body-fats from the first day of our lives.’
Founder of the Henry Doubleday Research Association, Lawrence D Hills: Organic gardening.
Penguin Books, 1977.

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While modern technology cannot be condemned out of hand, there have been many mistakes, The dramatic turnaround from scarcity to plenty over the past century has been achieved at the expense of a massive and ever-increasing input of chemicals and with little thought for tomorrow. Where corn has proved more profitable than cows, the practice of replacing organic matter on the land has died out. The result is that many soils are becoming lifeless. Larger machines have demanded larger fields and, as a result, trees and hedgerows have disappeared taking their dependent wildlife with them. Plants need a certain level of nutrients for healthy growth, so in order to maintain the levels, more and more chemical fertilizers are poured on to the land each year, filling the plants we eat with alien chemicals and polluting our waterways. The traditional practice of mixing and rotating crops has been abandoned for short-term profit, with the result that pests and diseases build up to uncontrollable proportions. Killing them with poison sprays becomes essential and as resistant strains of both pests and diseases develop, so more powerful chemicals have to be used. It is that aspect that is most worrying to us, the consumers of food produced in this way.
Geoff Hamilton: Successful organic gardening. Dorling Kindersley, 1987.

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There is nothing mystical or magical about organic gardening. It is simply a way of working with nature rather than against it, of recycling natural materials to maintain soil fertility and of encouraging natural methods of pest and disease control, rather than relying on chemicals. Don’t be misled into thinking that these principles will have a detrimental effect on yield or quality. In fact you are much more likely to increase both, and in doing so, you will be providing an alternative habitat for wildlife, whilst being certain that the fruit and vegetables produced in your garden are safe, flavoursome and chemical-free.
Geoff Hamilton: Successful organic gardening. Dorling Kindersley, 1987.

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Man has been growing food for thousands of years, but in only a brief fifty years or so has he been using large inputs of chemicals to increase yields of his crops. Yet there is adequate convincing evidence that if you exploit the soil in this way, the result is a breakdown in soil structure, so that it loses its vitality and there is a decrease in overall yield.The loss of a viable soil structure is accelerated by constant inputs of a vast range of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides whose residues destroy the bacteria essential for a living soil.
Roy Lacey: Organic gardening. David & Charles, 1988.

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Every garden supports an intricate community of creatures, beginning with those that feed on plants, their predators, the higher predators and so on, up to the small mammals like mice and hedgehogs. Using a chemical to exterminate a particular creature can have far-reaching effects and  is almost always self-defeating. Birds may die from eating poisoned caterpillars, and will no longer be there to pick off the next generation of live ones. Meanwhile, other grubs on which the birds also preyed are ruining the crops Predators are usually fewer in numbers and slower to adapt to the change than their prey, and so suffer more from the effects of pesticides.’
Sue Stickland: The organic garden: how to grow flowers, fruits and vegetables the natural way. Hamlyn 1989.

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Increased awareness if ecological issues, together with the realisation that we are what we eat, have led to an upsurge of interest in organic gardening. In our own small way, and however tiny our gardens, with careful planning and forethought, and by taking selective advantage of the latest modern research, products and techniques, we can not only derive great satisfaction from growing flowers, fruit and vegetables, but also play our part in preserving the natural balance of our immediate environment.
Dave Pike: Organic gardening: step by step to growing success. Crowood Press, 1990.

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We are long past the point of realising that our way of life is not sustainable, and yet on the whole we live in a society that has put little effort into changing it. It is all too easy to feel helpless so long as we remain part of a culture that appears to be intent upon systematically destroying the life of the planet which sustains us all. However, it is possible to make changes in our individual behaviour which affect the land we live on. If we have custodianship of a piece of land, the choices multiply.
We can add to the degradation of the living planet by the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers that break down the complex chains of existence found in nature, reducing them to a simple and sterile ecology that tends towards desert. Or we can choose to interact with the life that already exists on the land, organising it for a purpose of our own: a sustainable lifestyle based upon organic use of the land.’
Margaret Elphinstone: Organic gardening: everything the beginner needs to know. Grren Print, 1990.

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I had witnessed what seemed to me the wanton and unnecessary destruction of so much of this country’s ancient, species-rich habitats and landscapes; whole field systems, thousands of miles of hedges, venerable woodlands, wildflower meadows – all those features which had developed over the centuries through the hand of man working in harmony with Nature – were ripped up in a mechanized instant in the name of what came to be known as “agri-industry”. Whatever the motives, the consequences were dire: 186,000 miles of hedgerows, 95% of wildflower meadows, 50% of chalk grassland, 50% of ancient lowland woodlands and 50% of wetlands have been lost since 1945. I began to feel that this gigantic “experiment” with the whole of Nature, which increasingly seemed to me to be at risk of testing everything to destruction while at the same time extracting a cumulatively unsustainable harvest by artificial and progressively more toxic means, was both dangerous and short-sighted.
HRH The Prince of Wales: The elements of organic gardening at Highgrove, Clarence House & Birkhall. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007.

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The lack of harmful chemicals on the foods your family consumes and in the ecosystem that is your garden is reason enough to practise organic gardening.’
Kevin Forbes: Grow your own vegetables: practical advice on growing the organic way. Abbeydale Press, 2009.

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