In the New Year 2020, we shall start teaching simple practical God-given aspects of growing food. This method of growing food is known as Farming God’s way. In order to better understand the whole picture of it I thought it prudent to give a history of how Farming God’s Way came to be. Farming God’s Way was designed before man was on the face of the earth, when God put His laws in place to govern His creation and their inter-relations with one another.
Farming God’s Way is not just a technology but a well-balanced biblical, management and technological solution for the agricultural domain, to equip the poor to come out of poverty, with what God has put in their hands and to reveal the fullness of His promised abundant life. But more than that, for me, Farming God’s Way is the route back to clean, healthy, nutrient rich food, that is free from toxic chemicals, which will provide Afrika with new hope.
In today’s world, Farming God’s Way has a proven track record of success going back 35 years to 1984 when God first revealed it to Brian Oldreive of Zimbabwe. Brian became manager of Hinton Estate, near Bindura in the north east of Zimbabwe, in October 1982. Over the next 2 years he observed that they were experiencing high land preparation costs, fertility and yield declines, tremendous soil erosion and water losses and the costs of inputs were increasing annually. Hinton Estate was in a precarious financial situation and had not made a profit for many years. In his desperation and concern that the farm was on its way to bankruptcy, he sought the Lord’s counsel. Brian asked God to teach him how to overcome the difficulties he was encountering and God began to speak to him about how He manages creation, where He never tills or inverts the soil and where He never destroys or buries the decaying plant material on the surface.
God also spoke clearly of the stewardship and excellence farmers are called to adopt, by caring for and managing the land in a way that would ensure that farmlands could be passed on as an inheritance from one generation to another and bring glory to God. Start small and be faithful with little.
A decision was made to implement Farming God’s Way with high management standards, on a small tract of land, in order to both gain experience and have a manageable trial. The initial implementation was done using only 2 ha of land. The department of agriculture told Brian that his plan would never work, as 10 years prior to this some US based agronomists had approached and taught the Zimbabwean agricultural authorities about conservation farming, but due to their halfhearted attempts with the technological concepts, they had failed. Under Brian’s faithful stewardship, Hinton’s Farming God’s Way area increased annually, with their experience growing until the whole farm was converted over a 5 year time period from 2ha in year one to 1000ha in year five.
When the Lord had revealed His truths about the technology, they had no machinery to do anything like what they saw God do in creation. Instead of giving up, they worked with what God had put in their hands, hoes. At their peak manual planting level they were farming 650 ha of cropped land area with 1,100 labourers at planting time. This was an incredible commitment and required a lot of faith, but they persevered and succeeded.
Later on, with the farm making such incredible profits, they were able to purchase imported large scale machinery such as no-till drills. However, Brian still testifies to the highest yields eve recorded as being under a hand planted, rather than machine planted technique, because of the precision in seed placement and covering operations.
Neighbouring farmers, whose farms were in the same steady state of decline in profitability as Hinton Estate had been, refused to listen to Brian’s encouragement to change to doing things God’s way and many ended up going bankrupt and the farms were then bought up by the Hinton Estate trustees who could see the vision and fruitfulness since Brian’s management changes.
God’s garden was a highly productive rain forest which was in need of nothing and was capable of succeeding even in drought years and never slowed or lost its productivity. The trees never lose their leaves or wilt. They keep on producing flowers, fruits and seeds and are able to carry vast numbers and diversity of animal species. The Father and Creator put mechanisms in place which would allow the fauna, flora and soil to co-exist, with high levels of productivity, no environmental degradation, little or no erosion and a high buffering ability to withstand all the negative parameters of harsh climates. “Caring for the garden” is a part of all sufficiency in God. When a garden is being worked and cared for in God’s Way, it will never be in a state of decline nor crop failure.
The laws that God put in place in creation for the most productive ecosystems in the world include little or no soil disturbance, no destruction or incorporation of decomposing mulch and a significant biodiversity. These are the laws which allow the working and careful watching over His handiwork in creation.
He knows best and we should be doing what we have been shown by our Father, following what we see Him do in creation as closely as we can and to simulate His laws in an agricultural environment, where there are high demands and pressures. Therefore practically speaking, in the forests, has anyone seen God ploughing the soil He created? Or has anyone seen God destroying this mulch cover through burning, removal or incorporating it mechanically? The answer is quite obviously, no. God neither ploughs the soil nor destroys the beautiful blanket of mulch, which we refer to as God’s Blanket. So why do we ‘lean on our own understanding’ and not trust in the way He has shown us how to farm?
The wonderful successes on Hinton Estate stood out in dire contrast to the poverty of the adjoining communal farmers who were practicing conventional tillage. They suffered from poor yields and crop failures during dry seasons, with severe sheet and gully erosion being the norm. God began to stir deep desire in Brian’s heart to transfer Farming God’s Way practices to these communal farmers. After making various efforts, Brian established a large commercial farm, Agriway Community Church and Farm, with the purpose of training the poor. Small scale farmers, were allocated 1 ha, 2 ha and 5 ha plots depending on their level of expertise and faithfulness, many are still successful farmers today.
By 2009, Farming God’s Way had gone into Angola, Benin, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and others to varying degrees within Africa, whilst also touching into Mexico, Nepal, British Guyana, USA, UK and others.
Source material: Farming God’s Way Trainer’s Reference Guide. Dryden, G.W., 2009.