St. Fiacre, Patron of Farmers & Gardeners

St. Fiacre, Patron of Gardeners

by Guest Contributor, Robert Burns, Aiki Farms

Robert Burns was a reluctant farmer, he grew up on a Connecticut dairy farm and fled the farm life as a young man by going into the Marine Corps. Influenced by a radical organic farmer he worked for in California, Robert has returned to his family farm and now heads the progressive farmers in his local Farm Bureau.

I was a “Happy Farmer” much like most of our American mainstream. I was pretty numb to the political rivers that flow from the high places into the seas of despair.

Trained by John Jeavons of Ecology Action in Willits California, I returned to my parents old farm in the town of Ledyard Connecticut, upon the death of my mother in  1999. Ledyard is about eight miles north of Long Island Sound, near the fishing villages of Stonington and Mystic.

I brought with me, the Ecology Action biointensive growing methods, derived from St. Fiacre, who brought the “double digging” techniques to France from Ireland in 600 AD, which gave the French farmers the upper hand in produce production over the years.

This technique was marveled at by Alan Chadwick,  a young British Commando working with the French Resistance against the Nazis during World War 2. After the war, Chadwick came to the United States and founded the only organic agricultural college program in the United States at U.C. Santa Cruz, California. Today that college still does  memorial gardens at U.C. Santa Cruz. Chadwick died at Green Gulch Zen Center north of San Francisco, and on his deathbed directed the planting and growing of the Green Gulch gardens.

John Jeavons was Chadwick’s student. John and some others established Ecology Action. Today their organization has impacted the poor and the needy with such a dynamic force that millions are not only eating, but they are growing prosperous with their knowledge handed down from an Irish Catholic priest in 600 AD.

In Mexico, today over 600,000 government sustained mini farms under the EPICOL program via the Mexican Dept. of Agriculture reflect the work of Ecology Action as an honest tangible source of real homeland security. This food security is something that the United States not only is absent of, but works hard, via domination by huge food conglomerates, to obliterate.

This was reflected clearly by the writing and implementation of House Bill 875 crafted  by Rosa De Lauro, reflecting a deep lack of comprehension of a small farmers life. This bill was of such unbridled breadth that it would have wiped out the small farmer.

Ecology Action works all through Latin America, Europe, Asia, and currently is doing a magnificent job in Kenya, lifting the poor from poverty, into a festive dynamic of health and well being via biointensive agriculture.

As I write this one never reads about the success of Ecology Action. One never reads that perhaps their activity wins more positive political energy towards the US and it’s people than the billions of our tax dollars that are spent on semi-food stuff which we dump on the poor and starving, that when eaten the specter of starvation returns.

As a former Marine, and with the influence of Ecology Action and it’s roots and current activity how could I be a calm, non-political niche farmer in my old hometown Ledyard?

The answer was clear. I was not to be allowed a peaceful life.

Next Friday, Robert’s story continues with government “spies” at his once peaceful farmers market.

A Special Invitation to Hartke is Online! Readers:

Robert cordially invites you to attend a Victory Garden Seminar and Local Chef’s Feast at his Connecticut Farm on July 12, 2009. Ed Begley, Jr. will be the celebrity guest for the event. Tickets are $40.00. Please contact Kimberly at kim.hartke at for a pdf invite to the event.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays on the Food Renegade blog.