CfA's Op Ed
Studens for Soil – A Call to Action
An article for Waldorf Today online newsletter
By Milan Daler
Just a few years ago, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the very first Waldorf school in the world in September of 1919 as well as the birth of the worldwide Waldorf movement inaugurated by Rudolf Steiner. Today, there are more than 1,090 Waldorf / Steiner schools in 64 countries, and 1,857 Waldorf kindergartens in more than 70 countries, plus Waldorf associations and teacher-training centers for Waldorf educators and Waldorf teachers around the world.
As we know, Waldorf curriculum was just one of many, many gifts Dr. Steiner gave to humanity throughout his lifetime. Just a few short years after the founding of the Stuttgart Waldorf school a group of farmers approached him with their concerns of the declining health of their fields and decreasing nutritional value of their crops, which, in their view, if left unaddressed, would inevitably lead to a worldwide crisis. Rudolf Steiner, waiting for such a question to be asked, was ready to impart yet another gift to humanity. This time, through a lecture cycle on agriculture delivered to 118 farmers in 1924 in Koberwitz, the Biodynamic Agricultural movement was born. Today Over 5,000 Biodynamic farms encompassing more than 400,000 acres are certified in 60 countries around the globe.
These two, seemingly unconnected endeavors have at least one significant connection and that is care and love for humanity. Rudolf Steiner’s intense care for the wellbeing of mankind and of the earth itself shone through all his activities. Care and love not only for his contemporaries but for all future generations. It is precisely this care and love, which the first Waldorf teachers were asked by Dr. Steiner to demonstrate to their students.
Fast forward to 2022, we find ourselves witnessing and sometimes living through one crisis after another. I am sure we don’t have to list them here. We might feel overwhelmed and helpless and yet wanting to help and do our part to alleviate suffering. Not losing sight of any of the currently most pressing ones, like the barbaric war raging in Ukraine, or the Covid pandemic, there is one crisis looming over this and all future generations, which we might be overlooking, although we walk all over it every day. Yes, you guessed it: It is the very soil under our feet!!
What, you may ask, is the problem? Well, did you know that more than half of the world’s agricultural soil is already degraded* beyond use and that, if nothing is done to reverse this trend, in the next 60 years’ time, we will run out of cultivable soil?
What would that mean for our children and then their children? Just imagine that in the next 20 years, 40% less food is expected to be produced for the growing earth’s population of 9.3 billion people. Poor soil leads to poor nutritional values.
With utmost certainty, we can say that all other environmental challenges like climate change, water scarcity and loss of biodiversity are directly stemming from the degradation of our soil. When farmers can no longer sustain their livelihood from the land, they are forced to leave it in search of more fertile grounds. We can hardly imagine what suffering and conflict would such a mass migration lead to.
The impending soil extinction and spreading desertification can however still be reversed by bringing back at least 3-6% organic content in the soil.
Knowing so well who the founder of the Waldorf movement was and how deeply he cared for the wellbeing of mankind, it is without a doubt that he would be actively engaged today in efforts to Save Soil.
Fortunately, there is a global movement of the same name – Save Soil. Its aim is to address the soil crisis by bringing together people from around the world to stand up for Soil Health and supporting leaders of all nations to institute national policies and actions toward increasing the organic content in cultivable Soil to a minimum of 3%.
All of us adults can educate ourselves and support the movement by becoming “Earth Buddies”. Please visit the website below and click on “Action Now”. https://consciousplanet.org/ .
But what about our children, how can we get them interested and engaged in a developmentally appropriate way?
Children around the world and especially in India are inspired by their teachers and parents to express their care and love for Mother Earth by writing letters to their countries’ prime ministers or presidents, voicing their concerns about the wellbeing of the soil. Please look at these letters: https://studentsforsoil.consciousplanet.org/ they will melt your heart!
The Prime minister of India has now received hundreds of children’s letters. Who on earth could have deaf ears not to hear and heed a child’s plea? We can make a difference in our country and start a similar letter writing campaign in our Waldorf schools. Indeed, it seems that it is not even a choice anymore as it is simply our generational responsibility to raise awareness of this crisis and help avert it. It would be also an act of gratitude and of giving back to Rudolf Steiner some fruits of the seeds he planted over 100 years ago.
To learn more about the letter writing campaign please visit: https://consciousplanet.org/students/letters
Can we make it happen? Thank you!!!
*This means that the organic content in the soil is depleted to be around 1.5% and the formerly living soil is very near dying and is quickly turning into sand on which, of course, nothing grows.