Agriculture is deeply entwined with all our lives.
Our work kindles awareness of this complex, fundamental relationship and strives to change the way we all approach the ecological, social, and economic ills of current agricultural and food systems. Mindfulness shows us how being present connects each of us to ourselves, to others, and to the Earth.
At the Institute for Mindful Agriculture, our vision is to connect our current food and farming systems to a future of health and well-being for all. Because agriculture is so fundamental, we think that by mindfully evolving the foodshed, many other of Earth and society's illnesses will heal along the way.
The heart of our work is to connect inner transformation and social innovation. We do this work through four main lenses:
Like watersheds, foodsheds are a geographic way of thinking about how food makes its way from soil to table (and ideally, back to soil). IMA helps bring awareness and holistic metrics to disconnects in the foodshed flow, including at our home, Hawthorne Valley Farm. We offer consulting services for food and farming businesses and institutions transitioning to more regenerative forms of management, including at the Chester Agricultural Center. We are coordinating with organizations across the Hudson Valley to coevolve our foodshed concept. We are collaborating with the Biodynamic Association to develop pathways for biodynamic principles to help more land and communities grow healthfully.
Good environments for social beings
Each of us is our own organism, our own being. Together, our relationships form various social organisms- social beings that can be growing or dying, and be as healthy or sick as our own individual bodies.
We work to bring mindful attention to the social beings at work in the foodshed. Through social presencing technologies and community-rooted, multi-stakeholder meetings, we help make a good space for people to build trust and share perspectives. When we do this, something catalytic happens: social beings get healthy and can perceive, communicate, and act together.
As part of a wider food justice project across Columbia County, NY, the Hudson Community Core Group is one example of a ‘social being’ currently working to innovate ways to get healthy food flowing, fairly and affordably.
Connection to Nature and Place
Agriculture is entwined not only with human lives. How do we listen to the many more-than-human animals and plants we work with? How do we listen to the earth, the farm, the city, the region? There are as many ways of knowing a place as there are elements that make up a place. Through guided walks, sensing practices, and collaborative workshops, IMA offers tools and experiences for mindful immersion in nature and place.
Whether through a deep, sensory dive into diverse soils at a recent collaboration with the Farmscape Ecology Program, or through a sensing journey designed to share what it is like to live in a food desert, we invite human members of the foodshed to get to know the entire foodshed community, mind, body, and soul.
A place for the spirit
The Institute for Mindful Agriculture is rooted in the spiritual philosophies of Anthroposophy and mindfulness meditation, but all cultural traditions attend to the spirit in finding, cultivating, making, eating, sharing, and disposing of food. Part of what makes our food and farming systems so sick is the relentless disruption of the connection between our spirits and our selves, others, and the Earth. By making a place for the spirit at the “problem-solving” table, we give ourselves not only another facet with which to understand foodshed issues, but we reconnect a powerful part of ourselves to the whole.
Acknowledging the spirit is essential in all our work. By convening diverse perspectives on spirit and agriculture we hope to share and inspire pathways to health and well-being for all.