14 May 2011

Scattergood school and the Stutsman farm

The Scattergood Friends School is an interesting place. It is perhaps one of its kind that allows students to grow most of the food that it consumes and everything is grown in an organic way. The teacher in charge, Mr Mark took us around the farm. And you could see the personal effort that he has been taking whether it is the tomoatoes and corriander, the greenhouse, the experiment that the bilogy students are conducting, the sheep and the lamb  who have been bottle fed. The princples of equality were followed in the school - everyone called everyone in their first names. The meeting area of the school did not have a space for a minister all sat around and the day began for everybody with 15 minutes of silence. One of the ethos of the school is non-violence, a Quaker ethos who have founded the school. It was so satisfying to see Gandhiji's wrting on seven social sins in the school library. This was first published in Young India on 22 October  1925 and I quote from the link given abov.They are
  • Politics without Principle
  • Wealth Without Work
  • Pleasure Without Conscience
  • Knowledge without Character
  • Commerce without Morality
  • Science without Humanity
  • Worship without Sacrifice
An eighth one added by Arun Gandhi is:
  • Rights Without Responsibility
They are so relvant even in today's world.

Visit to the Stutsman,  a distribution  company on equipment, inputs and livestock feed revealed that they had agricultural roots and still continue to do some farming. The roots of this company goes back to the depression when Mr Eldon Stutsman was pulled out of school to help his father who was going to loose his earnings a second time. The buying and selling of livestock feed and other inputs for people in the neighborhood slowly grew into a big business.

Mr Roger, son of Mr Eldon  who took us around the firm first then took to his land where they grown corn in 2000 acres (shared equally by three brothers, they usually roatate and  grow some soyabean to address soil fertility management), but because of good corn prices this year all their land is for one crop only and it is beiing produced for ethanol. The whole cultivation is managed by two people on a full time  basis and another three people during peak time. The process is fully mechanized. 

They also own some cattle (for meat) which they manage at the seond stage. The first stage is to feed them grass which requires large tracts of land. But in the seond stage when the cattle are a year old they are fed corn (which now is a by-product after ethanol  production) with some  other ingredient for four months and for which they have created some hoopsheds. About 900 cattle and some sheep are grown under the supervion of a single person employed by them.

Cultivation of some organic vegetables is being managed by their daughter-in-law after their son passed away (our prayers are with him). There are political intereests in the family. Ms Sally, his wife, plans  to contest for the state legislature from a new district. All  the best.

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