Written by Piero Senatore Musini & Tamasin Ramsay

2015 was the United Nations Year of the Soils. What a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness on this “silent ally” that is adaptable, flexible, generous and silent.

It is the soil that embraces the seeds to allow them to become plants for nurturing human and animal species.

Today our planet is facing tremendous challenges, over-population, water shortage, climate change and more, more and more. When we look at the way we have treated the soil in the last 60-70 years, with hybrid and genetically modified seeds, the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticide encouraged, we find corporations prioritizing profit over values. The scandal has come to the point of privatizing and patenting seeds that have always been given to us for free by mother earth since the beginning of time.

Wheat Field
Wheat Field

At present, agricultural productivity has stagnated and food security is seriously threatened. Farmers have no guarantee of crop success and land is becoming increasingly infertile, demanding further use of fertilizers that results in further soil fertility exhaustion.

The reduced resilience against climate stress and pest infestation, exacerbated by genetically modified seeds, has added to the insecurity experienced by the farmers. A situation like the whitefly epidemic in Punjab with GMO cotton is a clear example of the terrifying imbalances that are present globally at this historical moment. Thanks to people like Dr. Vandana Shiva these issues are touching a larger number of people worldwide to raise awareness, and bring a commitment to change.

When I (Musini) moved to Gubbio, Italy in 2009, taking over a family-owned conventional farm, I decided to apply organic yogic agriculture to 200 hectares of arable land near Gubbio in the Perugia province of Italy. My first challenge was to shift from conventional farming to organic farming.

Organic was not enough.

The mission was to re-introduce ancient non-modified seeds that are neither hybrids nor GMOs. I was fortunate to discover from small farmers in different parts in Italy, a durum wheat variety called “Senatore Cappelli” which is ideal for pasta, and two more grains that were formerly cultivated in Tuscany and Abruzzo called “Frassineto” and “Gentil Rosso”.

In addition to these, we are growing heirloom farro, blond and black millet, buckwheat, chickpeas, lentils and flax seeds. All our seeds are grown in a natural almost wild environment, where you can find many other varieties of plants among those we have sown.

We conducted a comparative test the first year. During the transition from conventional to organic farming, hybrid seeds behaved like junkies without their dose of pesticides. They refused to grow; it was as if they needed to receive their dose of chemicals to avoid going through withdrawal.

With ancient seeds, production is considerably less, but the smell, the taste, and the ground flour are so much more enjoyable and nutritious. There is no comparison. Another very interesting aspect is that the gluten of ancient grains is very different from modern ones so that people who are intolerant to gluten can eat it.

This type of natural organic cultivation requires a continuous rotation from cereal plants to leguminous plants, which is the natural way to keep the soil happy and fertile. During our 5-year rotation, we keep certain fields unproductive for an entire year allowing them to rest. On those fields we grow a variety of plants to produce a healthy green ground cover that enriches the soil and makes it ready for the following year’s crop. In the preparation of the soil we try not to damage the underground microscopic life that is latent in the soil. We do not use herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers.

Using this approach, we have discovered ancient plant species emerging in the soil, from seeds we have not sown, like the black millet, which is rich in silica and protein. Millet was in medieval times and it appears in recipes of that era. We suspect that the seeds are dormant in the soil and are revitalized when optimum conditions prevail.

Sustainable Yogic Agriculture

Climate change, food security and social violence are three global concerns that are being addressed by the revolutionary practice of Sustainable Yogic Agriculture.

In India, starting in 2008, farmers began combining meditative thought-based practices with organic farming. The initial group of farmers were from farming families, and were also practiced meditators. As such the affect on crop farming was remarkably positive. There were measurable quantitative benefits in terms of crop quality, nutritional content, crop yield and trade price at market, as well as qualitative benefits such as social resilience, improved relationships, reduced anger and depression, and individual farmer wellbeing.
I toured some yoga farms in India and was so inspired that I started to emulate and follow that example in my farming in Italy.

Yogic Farming in Practice

The seeds or a sample of the seeds are placed in the home, where meditation is practiced regularly.

Seeds are typically empowered for 10 days before sowing, morning and evening for 15-45 minutes at a time. Thoughts of peace, love, strength are imbued into the seeds by the farmer.

Although 10 days is typical, it can also be practiced every few days up to a month before sowing. From then on, regular meditations are conducted in the fields and remotely with specific practices designed to support each phase of the crop growth cycle: faith, hope and the fulfillment of potential at the time of seed germination; love, and encouragement during the growth phase; and gratitude and thanks when approach the time of harvest. In addition, placing a meditation flag in each field helps to remind us to sustain the meditative practice during the day.

Why Meditation?

Meditation is unique in its ability to reveal the nature of the mind, while opening the heart. The power in meditation comes when the mind (thoughts) and heart (feelings) work together. Any meditation begins by sitting quietly and concentrating on the breath, or the feel of the body sitting, or being aware of the sounds around you.

This all helps to bring one into the present moment and to calm the mind. When I practice meditation I want to have a clear mind and a healthy body which calls for healthy foods. Part of my life purpose is to offer people quality food. Yogic agriculture restores a sustainable system in our method of agriculture bringing benefits to all components of the system - environmental, animal and human.

Indian Express
Indian Express

The Results of Yogic Farming

University studies have determined the following results from Sustainable Yogic Agriculture: increase in desired microbial soil activity, significant drop in pest damage, increased and more rapid seed germination when contrasting meditated seeds with un-meditated seeds, healthier roots, faster plant growth, greater weight of seeds harvested, and and increase in quality parameters such as iron, manganese and proteins.

Last September the Indian agriculture minister, Radha Mohan Singh, part of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), supported “yogic' farming” arguing that it can "empower seeds with the help of positive thinking" and that combining yoga with farming could improve crop fertility.

“Every day, farmers should give vibrations of peace, love and divinity to seeds and their farm land with the help of Rajyoga, so that it will help increase growth and resistance power.”
“Such exercise is accepted by my ministry essentially to enhance Indian farmers’ confidence, to help farmers enhance fertility of the soil and the activity of micro-organisms in the soil too.”Radha Mohan Singh quoted in Indian Express

Even if the yield is less with organic yogic methods, the price differential works in favor of improved taste, higher nutrition and the plants being less prone to disease and pests. This results in overall benefits to the farmer.

In order not to lose the benefits of this type of philosophy and cultivation I decided to begin a transformation process in order to bring this wealth of goodness to the table. This was the birth of Santa Pasta (Holy Pasta) a line of pasta products made with ancient wheat, spelt and the millet pasta as a gluten-free meal made only with the grains cultivated in the farm so that the benefit of organic yogic farming could be made available to anyone.

Why Call it “Santa Pasta”?

A man in India, after a certain age, who devotes his time to cultivation with spiritual practice in his daily life, is called a “Saint”; so it seemed appropriate to call it holy.

Santa Pasta
Santa Pasta

Co-creation with Nature

There are several other examples of how the mental or thought-energy influences matter. One brilliant understanding of this was given by scientist Masaru Emoto with his experiments using water crystals under a microscope. Other examples can be seen in the Findhorn community in Scotland with the founders practiced attuning themselves to the intelligence of nature. Eileen and Peter Caddy and Dorothy Maclean came to understand that they were engaged in a process of co-creation with nature, recognizing our interdependence with all of life.

Through changing our consciousness, by listening to our inner source of wisdom, and by co-creating with nature, we can bring about the positive and sustainable changes so needed in our world.

Further Reading and Information On Sustainable Yogic Agriculture

Interviews with Tamasin Ramsay on yogic farming, which has had more likes and shares than any other program in the same time period.

Other Resources

Asian Agri-History.org Vol 19 April 2015: Yogic Farming through Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Meditation: An Ancient Technique for Enhancing Crop Performance by – Sunita T Pandey, Omvati Verma, Kewalanand, DS Pandey, Subhash Gill, JC Patel, GN Patel, DM Patel, BT Patel, DS Patel, IS Patel, RN Patel, NK Sing, and DM Thakur

Dr Tamasin Ramsay is a meditator and anthropologist. She is former NGO Representative to the United Nations for the Brahma Kumaris. Dr Ramsay also has a particular interest in addressing the disconnect that is the foundation of many of our global problems such as climate change, food security, environmental disasters and social violence.

Mr. Piero Senatore Musini is an organic farmer from an established family in Italy. He is keen to help re-establish natural and sustainable methods of living, by using natural agricultural practice and yogic farming techniques. While these methods affirm the influence of the farmer on the environment in which he or she works, they also support a move towards a way of living that is sustainable, as well as supporting relationships of sharing and healthy consumption.