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


Another tenet of the organiculturists holds to the making of compost by Sir Albert Howard's Indore process, involving the ratio of one part animal matter to three parts of plant residue, a relationship which is found naturally in field and forest. Many persons mistakenly consider themselves as practicing organiculture if they simply use manure, which is in itself an unbalanced fertilizer. It does, to be sure, contain many valuable elements, including vitamins and hormones, but inasmuch as plants and especially leaves are extremely rich in mineral elements, we ought to use both plant and animal matter. Where manure alone is used it must be well rotted.  The same applies to green matter which should be rotted through the compost heap. The application of raw green matter and manure is a severe shock to the soil until its organisms can bring about their decay. Eventually it will benefit, but in the meantime the current crop will suffer.

The organic farmer and gardener must realize that fertilization is not the only measure for success. He must treat the soil as a living, breathing entity. He must rotate crops. He must fallow the land at regulated intervals. The organiculturist must not practice one-crop monoculture but must engage in a balanced agriculture with cattle as part of the general program. He must be smart in the ways of the soil and crops, observing the reaction of the land to the actions of man. For instance, he must know when to plant and when to harvest and what varieties of seed to use.  Compost alone does not make a successful gardener any more than does gardening without compost. 

The organic farmer observes the Law of Return, restoring to the soil all plant residues that came from it. He does not burn leaves, spoiled hay, or other crop by-products, but often goes out of his way to retrieve organic matter that others throw away. He is against the operation of hundred thousand acre farm-factories where all the basic principles of organic farming are violated or ignored. The organiculturist believes also that infertile soils should be set aside for the growing of chemurgic crops only, that is, non-food crops such as cloth for clothes, corn for production of wood alcohol, and similar commodities.