Influences from the 1960s and 1970s
The back to the land movement
The turbo-charged consumerist culture post World War II, was rejected by many serious political and radical thinkers and doers who led the movement to get back to nature, community and local self-sufficiency. This departure from the destructive culture of the ‘modern world’ was ridiculed and sidelined (and still is) as the ‘hippy movement’. Communes, rural communities, homesteading and the New Self-Sufficiency of John Seymour, all created an atmosphere that even made it into the BBC’s popular Good Life programme.
The 70's wave of environmentalism
The back to the land movement was informed by new scientific understandings about how industrial agriculture was killing nature. Rachel Carsen’s Silent Spring (1962), was a wake up call for many people and inspired many new groups to take action and grow new movements for social, ecological and political change, like Greenpeace (1971), Friends of the Earth (1971) and the Green Party (1973).
New findings from the science of ecology
Rachel Carsen was a marine biologist and part of a growing body of scientists and researchers, including Howard Odum, that were starting to better understand nature through the science of ecology. David Holmgren was very much influenced by these writings. At last indigenous wisdom and modern science were starting to connect.
The 70s oil crisis
In 1973, OPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. Prices increased by 300% and more, causing recession in many countries. Solar panels were installed on the White House in the USA, and Bill Mollison and David Holmgren started thinking about what kind of agriculture could provide for human needs without needing fossil fuels.
Bill and David were not the only ones thinking about a radical new form of agriculture. In the USA, Wes Jackson and the Land Institute were experimenting to find perennial grains, Masanobu Fukuoka was looking for no-till rice cultivation methods and published his work and philosophy in the wonderful book One Straw Revolution, and Percival Alfred Yeomans was popularising his Water for Every Farm keyline management system in Australia.