After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, ISKCON’s 12th European Farm Conference is back and poised to make a significant impact on the future of agriculture. The event is organized by the GBC Ministry of Cow Protection and Agriculture and will be held on a working farm in Zum Oberdorf, Jesewitz, Germany, from September 29th to October 1st, 2023. Devotees are encouraged to register soon at the following link.
ISKCON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, has promoted sustainable agriculture and cow protection for decades. One of its most significant initiatives is the European Farm Conference, which has brought devotees, farmers, leaders, experts, and policymakers together to share knowledge and solutions for sustainable farming practices.
The GBC Ministry of Cow Protection and Agriculture has been instrumental in fostering the growth of ISKCON farm projects through a three-stage approach: registration, certification, and education. The ministry has also initiated the GoFundCows platform, which financially supports goshalas, furthering the cause of cow protection.
The farm hosting the 2023 European Farm Conference has a Hare Krishna legacy spanning four generations and has cultivated an impressive 300 hectares of land. However, what sets this farm apart is its dedication to regenerative farming practices, a key focus of this year’s conference.
Robert Kuenne, the visionary behind this farm, has been at the forefront of regenerative agriculture, which emphasizes nurturing the soil while producing crops. The farm’s commitment to this approach is a testament to the idea that feeding the earth is a science in itself—a science that allows for effective crop management while simultaneously replenishing the soil and regenerating the ecosystem.
This year’s theme, “Ox Power,” is especially relevant given the pressing need for alternative, sustainable energy sources in the face of global warming concerns. Ox power, a timeless solution, offers a way to mitigate the environmental impacts of fossil fuels. Kalakantha Das, ISKCON’s Global Minister of Cow Protection and Agriculture and conference organizer, noted, “Agriculture is considered one of the leading causes of pollution on the planet, primarily due to the high consumption of fossil fuels and the use of artificial pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Ox Power offers an alternative that is more sustainable and environmentally friendly,” he continued, “There is an undeniable crossroads between ox and machine power that demands our attention.”
In today’s world, where the lack of a rural workforce drives reliance on machinery and fossil fuels, the question arises: Can we break free from this unsustainable reliance on technology? Kalakantha believes that ox power offers an answer. Oxen, with their natural symbiosis with humans and the environment, represents an ethical, sustainable source of power for food production. They work harmoniously with the land, plowing and preparing it without disturbing the biodiversity underneath—a stark contrast to heavy machinery.
Moreover, oxen generate a sense of community cooperation, patience, and tolerance, fostering a spirit of gratitude and abundance. Kalakantha emphasizes that reintroducing ox power is not a step backward but rather a poignant move toward regenerating the earth and cultivating a more virtuous, sustainable food system.
The conference aims to explore this fine line between ox and machine power, highlighting the challenges and opportunities it presents. New Vraja Dam in Hungary has pioneered the use of ox power for various agricultural tasks, showcasing the feasibility of this approach.
While the conference primarily targets devotees from European ISKCON farms, it also welcomes devotees from worldwide urban centers. This inclusive approach recognizes the importance of bridging the gap between urban and rural communities. Urban devotees can play a pertinent role by connecting with farms, learning about sustainable food production, and advocating for access to pure food in their local areas.
A noteworthy aspect of this year’s conference is its online availability, ensuring that devotees worldwide can participate virtually.
As the date approaches, the anticipation is palpable. The conference aims to reignite the spirit of sangha, allowing farmers to exchange ideas and share their progress. It will include an ox power competition, reinforcing the importance of this timeless practice. Additionally, the conference will launch a foundational course on cow care, a pivotal step in promoting cow protection and sustainable agriculture.
In short, the 12th European Farm Conference promises to be an exciting gathering of devotees and experts dedicated to regenerative farming and ox power. In a world grappling with environmental challenges, the conference offers pertinent solutions and a redoubled commitment to sustainable agriculture, and its impact will surely resonate far beyond the conference venue.
Dec 03, 2023
Dec 02, 2023
Kulavati Krishnapriya Devi Dasi, ISKCON News Staff Writer
Dec 01, 2023
Atma Tattva Das, ISKCON News Staff Writer
Nov 30, 2023
Sri Krishna Chaitanya Swami
Nov 29, 2023
Radhapriya, ISKCON Toronto Communications Director