The Organiculturist’s Creed

Writing in 1948, J.I. Rodale discusses the growing organic movement and its practices, setting it at odds with the status quo of the day.

By J.I. Rodale


The Organiculturist's Creed by J.I. Rodale, Jan. 1949Organiculture is a vigorous and growing movement, one that is destined to alter our conceptions of the farm and the garden and to revolutionize our methods of operating them in order to secure for ourselves and others more abundant and more perfect food. The seed sown by Sir Albert Howard is beginning to bloom lustily and with such vim that it is already thriving and propagating of its own strength. Composters by the hundreds are telling their neighboring countrymen of the wonders of this  "new," yet age-old method, and the latter are listening by the thousands. Compost heaps are becoming an integral part of the farm, the garden, and the landscape. Organiculture is here to stay. When one sees its astounding results as developed under his own hand, he says a quick and unreluctant good-bye to the groping and artificial test tube methods of yesterday.

It may be advisable at this point to define the organic method in detail and to illustrate individually its precepts, for the benefit of newcomers, for the approval of seasoned veterans, and for the possible conversion of scoffers and skeptics, some of whom attack it without knowing exactly what they are futilely endeavoring to combat. 

Sometimes a chemist takes us to task and criticizes the inclusion of certain items in the organic arsenal of weapons. For example, he calls lime a chemical, yet we advocate its presence in the compost heap. Of course lime is a chemical! So is everything else. There is nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash in your tablecloth, in ham and eggs, and in your very own mother-in-law. So it is high time for us and our adversaries to stop talking in elusive generalities and to start clarifying our specific points. 

In regard to the word "organic,” Webster says "pertaining to, or derived from living organisms." On the other hand—also according to Webster  —when a chemist refers to the word  "organic" he means "pertaining to or designating that branch of chemistry which treats of the compounds of carbon." It can be seen, therefore, that when we say "organic" we mean something different from what the chemist understands by that word, but these are mere technicalities resulting from professionalized word usage. We do not exclude a chemical simply because it is a chemical any more than we include an organism just because it is an organism. There are, however, some chemicals and some bacteria that try to upset everything that the organiculturist is attempting to achieve. Those saboteurs are the ones against which we discriminate.