Farming God's way is paying of at Bricket Wood, Soil fertility levels have jumped, and u foundation has been laid for healthy crops and animals. Now read on and learn more about the connection between soil, food and the Sabbatical Year!
"SIX YEARS thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: but in the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie still" (Ex. 23:10). The new Agriculture Programme here at the campus in Bricket Wood has just finished observing a SABBATICAL YEAR. Here is a report which brings you an on-the-spot and up-to-date account of just what has taken place. But first let's go back and see what led up to this new programme in Agriculture, that we now find set in the beauty of England's Hertfordshire countryside.
In the Beginning
By the end of the Ministerial Conference in January, 1967, news of the new Farm Programme at Big Sandy, Texas, had inspired Mr. McNair and Mr. Hunting to propose a similar change for the farm surrounding the college at Bricket Wood, England. At this time our farm in England had been operating for some five and a half years, but the decision was made to reorganize it in accordance with the principles already outlined for Big Sandy. It was also proposed to follow Big Sandy with the introduction of an Agriculture Course at Ambassador College, Bricket Wood. As a student, in the last semester of my fourth year at Bricket Wood, I suddenly found myself,, with my family, transferred for a six-month stay on the Texas campus! While there, I was to learn just what Mr. Schurter and his team of men had discovered about rapid methods of soil rejuvenation and the application of God's LAW to the land. By early August, 1967, we were back in England, loaded with information and new ideas. It was inspiring to feel that a "mustard seed" of agricultural truth was about to be planted in Europe. "Truth" that is due to grow from all three Ambassador Colleges and spread and overshadow and finally replace the perverted food production system of this world!
Year of Rest
The fall of 1967 was the beginning of the seventh year of the farm at Bricket Wood and time to begin observing God's Commanded year of rest. No one who rejects this law will ever come to a full understanding of nutritious food production. Let me hasten to point out that we know we have not yet come to that "full understanding" — FAR FROM IT! We are still, in a sense, only looking through a veritable "keyhole," but we are at least on our way and headed in the right direction. Nearly everyone else in this world is "on his way" too — unfortunately in the WRONG direction!! By late October the harvest had been gathered in. Jobs like canning and bottling were finished, too. This is the time when farmers and gardeners entering their Sabbatical Peal should cut off preparatory work for what would be their next harvest.
How the "Rest" Is Observed
To know HOW the Sabbatical Year is kept, we must first understand God's purpose in commanding its observance. Many think the word "REST" means let the soil lie IDLE! Some have even wondered if the farmer should sell his stock (if he has any), padlock the gates and either go for a long holiday, or get himself a job. This is a totally WRONG impression!! The seventh YEAR of rest is typified by the seventh DAY of rest, and you know that YOU are NOT commanded to observe the weekly Sabbath by climbing into bed and lying perfectly still for the 24 hours! The weekly Sabbath is a time when we are commanded to recharge physically and spiritually — the time when we lay the foundation for our success during the coming six days. This is done by making the necessary effort to attend God's "holy convocation" or assembly (Lev. 23:3). Likewise a YEAR of rest is the time when we physically recharge our soil and lay the foundation for success during the coming six years! Many make considerable physical effort on the seventh DAY and travel many miles to be renewed with God's spiritual food and people will still continue to do so in the millennium (Isa. 66:23). In a similar way, those "resting" the land must make considerable effort to recharge their soil with physical plant food. HARVESTING is the key to the Sabbatical Year! Crops arc NOT to be planted for harvesting. Lev. 25:5 shows that the principle involved is not one of refraining from planting or growing. The growth of plants is actually encouraged during the Sabbatical Year! The scripture states: "That which groweth of its own accord OF YOUR HARVEST, thou shalt not reap." Here we see it is the harvesting that is in question. Even here (when you understand the scriptures) the command is only against the harvesting of commercial crops. We are told quite plainly in Ex. 23:10-11 that the poor can come and take whatever their immediate needs may be. You can imagine if your farm was situated close by a village, that the poor might require all the volunteer grain and fruit your land would produce in the seventh year! Then what is the specific PHYSICAL purpose of the Sabbatical Year? It refers to the principle of building up large reserves or organic residues, both in and on the soil. The diligent farmer will take full advantage of his one-in-seven-year opportunity In that year he should see that his soil grows the biggest quantity of the best quality plant matter it can produce. Following a grain harvest, many fields may be almost devoid of volunteer new growth. The farmer will then often need to sow specially balanced pasture mixtures that will make organic matter available for years to come. (Sometimes this will be done at the sowing of the sixth year crop.) The Sabbatical Year is also a time for ironing out any mistakes in land management over the past six years of farming or gardening. (Remember, if you're just a home gardener. the principles outlined here are as applicable to you as to any farmer with a large field.) It is interesting to note that tests have shown that SEVEN YEARS is the precise time it takes for complete organic decomposition in the average climate. Don't make the mistake of inferring from this that the Sabbatical Year will supply sufficient residues to fully maintain soil fertility. It won't!
Importance of "Plant Residues"
Dead plant matter is vital because it is the food for the soil and if the soil is to stay ALIVE — IT MUST BE FED!! God is of course the Creator and Giver of life, but one thing we tend to forget is that ALL PHYSICAL LIFE ORIGINATES IN THE SOIL! (Gen. 2:7.) That is why it is vital to feed the soil!! The health of MAN, his ANIMALS and his PLANTS, depends upon a massive population of vigorous earthworms and micro organisms. People working with the soil must pay constant attention to its level of dead plant matter. The Sabbatical Year is a kind of compulsory protection measure, ordered by the Creator and Sustainer of ALL life. Physically speaking, it is a safety measure that will regularly point the obedient man back to SOIL FERTILITY as our only true source of God-given health and strength! THAT IS WHY GOD COMMANDS MEN TO REST THE LAND!!! God's system of food production is based on the Biblical principle of "GIVING," but man's carnal mind (Rom. 8:7) causes him to reject God's way of sustaining life. It is like tithing. Man thinks he can't afford to tithe, when in reality he can't afford NOT to do so. Man also thinks he can't afford to give all that plant matter back to the soil. The truth is that the more he gives to the soil, the more it will return to him in abundant crops and health and strength. It is the foundation of man's every physical blessing, but he has always practiced his own "GET" system of agriculture. In following this carnal approach down through history we see that man has always "mined" the fertility of his soil until disease strikes him down, or desert conditions force him to move on.
The "GIVE" System!
"God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it" (Gen. 2:15). If you have a Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, look up the Hebrew for the word, "DRESS." You will find that man is to approach his soil with an attitude of serving and giving. See also "KEEP." The context of its Hebrew meaning is to guard, hedge about, protect, preserve, etc. By no stretch of the imagination could you believe this to have been man's approach to farming. The most efficient way to GIVE the maximum amount of dead plant matter to the soil is certainly NOT by refraining from planting crops during the seventh year. We should refrain from planting anything we INTEND TO HARVEST. This is precisely what God COMMANDS in Ex. 23:10-11 and in Lev. 25:2-7, 20-22. Any honest farmer will be forced to admit that it is the frequent harvesting of crops that destroys soil most rapidly. It is therefore no coincidence and no surprise that the most poverty-stricken soils in all modern agriculture are those which are forced to grow "continuous" grain crops! The return of dead plant matter to the soil is absolutely the only natural way "THE LAND SHALL YIELD HER FRUIT, AND YE SHALL EAT YOUR FILL, AND DWELL THEREIN IN SAFETY" (Lev. 25:19). Man can scarcely claim to be eating his fill and dwelling in safety today We live in a world where thousands die daily from sickness, disease and starvation!! These are some of the penalties and curses man has brought on himself through agricultural disobedience!
Enough for Three Years!
The opposite of what you find this world doing today in food production is usually a fair guide to the course of action God's people should be taking! Farmers and 'truck-gardeners' are failing to conserve and return organic residues to their soil. WHY? It is basically because they have lost the knowledge of the Sabbatical Year and have therefore lost their understanding of the significance of organic residues (Job 28:12, 21, 23, 28). God promises to take care of those who will obey His LAW OF SOIL FERTILITY (that's really what the Sabbatical Year is — physically. Of course spiritually, it is a test of man's FAITH). In the sixth year God promises enough produce to the obedient to sustain them for three years (Lev. 25:20-22). This also nails harvesting of crops as the focal point behind the Sabbatical Year. Notice there is no command against cattle having calves or producing milk in the seventh year. Neither does God say that cows will give birth to three calves in the sixth year! It now becomes obvious that the promised blessing to carry the farmer over three years has to refer to CROPS! The maintenance of livestock is perhaps the most vital key to a balanced agriculture programme (Psalm 104:14). We need to understand that no man would qualify for that sixth year blessing, unless livestock form the foundation of his soil fertility. This is just what God is telling us when He says: "The Sabbath of the land shall be meat [food] for... thy cattle and for the beast that are in thy land" (Lev. 25:6-7). Contrast this with the thousands of farmers today who are specializing in grain and hay production. You can see what a direct discouragement the Sabbatical Year is against the monoculture of grain.
Effects of Sabbatical Year
What are the consequences of this seventh-year compulsory "free-range" grazing? Some have wondered in the past if all stock are to be cleared off the farm in the Sabbatical Year. The opposite is the case! Animals are to be retained and given the chance to graze ALL the farm at times during the "rest" year. (Some surprising new facts on the effects of this will be brought out later.) But meanwhile, grazing access to the whole farm lowers the stocking rate and encourages a much greater bulk of grass in every pasture! That means healthier stock all producing more meat, milk and wool! If this extra plant growth is not to get wildly out of hand and produce a massive seeding of less desirable plants, it must be "topped" regularly with some type of mower. THIS IS NOT HARVESTING! No, not even if you take some of it away to compost it — providing it is returned to that area. We left the "topped" portions of our pastures to decompose right where they fell from the mower. During this last year in Bricket Wood, we had sufficient plant growth to use the mower three or four times on some fields. Anyone who has managed a lawn knows that the more often it is cut, the more often it needs cutting. "Topping" pastures has the same effect and the added plant growth is a first class source of food for earthworms and micro-organisms. Remember the increased growth ABOVE ground is accompanied by an increase in root growth BELOW ground, and together they add many tons of additional manure to the soil during the year of rest. That tonnage is over and above what the grazing animals return in wastes from their own bodies. Every action in the Sabbatical Year must be planned with the next six years in mind. What effect does the return of all this plant and animal manure have on the food that finally arrives on your dinner plate? In our own soils here in Bricket Wood, we found it improved the texture and moisture-holding ability of the soil. These qualities provide a favourable environment in which earthworms and micro-organisms multiply as they decompose the dead plant matter. Decomposition is a highly complex interaction between the atmosphere, rock particles, organic residues and the life in the soil. The end product of decomposition and all this interaction is healthy and perfectly balanced plant growth. Man is able to reap the blessings of a fantastically complex system he doesn't understand, simply by obeying God's natural laws! The end result is automatic as long as we obey these laws of soil management. They are simple and easy enough for a little child to follow! (Matt. 11:25; Psalm 8:2, 6, 7.) Carnal-minded man REFUSES to follow God's way and prefers to stumble along from one crisis to another on the advice of a white-coated agricultural "Priesthood" (I Tim. 6:20). Science has now taken over from farmers and is doing a job of food perversion that surpasses anything in man's history. You need to be fully aware that the system which produces your food is diabolically orientated toward the ultimate destruction of mankind! You had better believe I Peter 5:8 means what it says. Satan aims to use every device to limit God's family. His efforts to bring about the financial collapse of food producers are exceeded only by his efforts toward destroying man through the poor health of his soil, plants and animals! Now our Creator is beginning to enter the scene with increasingly severe punishments for our rebellion against His laws. This is prophesied to get very much worse in the near future (Hosea 5:4-6; 4:9-10; 2:8-10; Joel 1:14-20).
What Can YOU Do?
As conditions get worse, more people are going to ask the question, "What can I do?" Answer: FIRST — LOOK TO GOD! Our salvation and protection lies with Him rather than in a few platefuls of nutritious food; but as well as looking to God you could well follow this practical and productive example! God's Work has not become unbalanced about low quality food, but neither has the subject been ignored. Mr. Armstrong has instituted a farm system which is supplying the bulk of the food consumed on all three campuses. Ask yourself, are you learning how to grow more and more of your needs? You will be in better health if you do. You can also use the money saved to buy better quality (natural products) in your other needs. This brings us back to the Sabbatical Year we have just kept on the farm here at Ambassador College, Bricket Wood. The principles in growing food God's way are simple. Anyone can follow them.