The Importance of Quality of Life Values in Agroecosystem Science.
David Kline, Larksong Farm, 8940 CR 235, Fredericksburg, OH 44627 and Deborah Stinner, The Ohio State Univ, OARDC, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691.
A key component of a systems approach to agriculture that is often overlooked by bio/physical scientists is the social dimension. In reality, social factors ultimately are what drive the agronomics and ecology of agroecosystems, whether they are individual farms or whole watersheds. Quality of life values and issues, in particular, those that deal with the deeper reasons of why farmers farm, what practices they choose to use, and the importance of family and community are key drivers. The Amish are a religious agrarian people and represent the largest subculture in the U. S. Becasue of their insistence on using horses as the primary power force on their farms, their farms are seen as quaint and from a different era. However, Amish farming practices are actually a carefully selected blend of the newest technology and old tradition. Specific practices are accepted only after they have been evaluated within their communities according to deep quality of life values that include concern for impact of technology on their families, communities and spiritual life. While not immune to the economic pressures that influence non-Amish farmers, numerous studies have shown that Amish farms can be profitable and highly energy and nutrient efficient. In this presentation, David Kline, Amish farmer, bishop, naturalist, writer and editor of Farming Magazine will share his insights on the importance of quality of life values in agriculture for his people and the larger society.