A short history of how Norb was unwittingly introduced into "Organics"
Here's a little history of how I was unwittingly introduced to an "organic" way of life. The word "ORGANIC" is like so many other words; it can be understood in many ways. The meaning it has for me is: "Living together with nature and serving the ecosystem which promotes sustainability." I grew up in Germany and was always involved with the natural world. We had a big home garden as my father was a passionate gardener. We lived in natural surroundings. Just a few hundreds of meters away from our house I could walk through native forest for hours and hours. So that was my learning environment. My parents were great believers in using Compost and NO artificial fertilisers or pesticides. We made our own treatments against mildew and other pests which were used in our garden. Our house was built in 1747, and for me, a living example of an organic building made from oak logs and hand made clay bricks. Just imagine, a house built when Johan Sebastian Bach wrote some of his greatest compositions in Leipzig. This old farmhouse was full of life all year round. We had to keep the balance to avoid being overrun by nature. We had to claim our niche in the house. There were owls and pigeons in the roof. Two types of rats, three types of mice, weasels, stoats, cats and swallows in and around the house plus all the different types of spiders and insects which all claimed their place. We used store-bought traps and devices we made ourselves to keep the population at bay. What a lot of fun for a young boy to play around in a natural environment. This all pretty much boiled down to an organic way of life with all the conflict and drama in nature. We did not even have a name for our lifestyle. in those days it was also the most affordable way to live. We still got the milk direct from the farm across the road in our white enamel container. Back then we had no synthetic clothing: it was all cotton, linen, or some kind of wool. I still remember dumping a whole old mattress into our compost heap. It was made from horsehair and cotton. It all went back to mother earth in the most natural way. It was easy to see for me that all and everything eventually goes back to earth. No difference between the dead bird or the old jersey.......all goes the same way back to mother earth. As kids, we had to deal with common disease naturally because vaccination was often not available. So we got it all: measles, whooping cough, chick pocks, mumps, flu, and lung infections. Being sick from time to time was normal. Early in my life, I saw that the process of recycling in nature was elegant and somehow beautiful. It did not matter if it was an old jersey, old mattress, dead bird, leaves, wood, dung even humans..............all eventually went through the same natural force of decay/entropy according to the order of time. It was the perfect introduction for me to understand nature. And I was also able to see what does NOT work. With the introduction of plastic into our daily life, it became quickly clear that plastic does not go well in a compost heap or anywhere for the long term. So that was my introduction to some kind of organic way of thinking as a child..........what else can you wish for? To cut a long story short; I was trained as a horticulturist and through that was able to look at both sides: conventional farming and organic farming. As a teenager, I sometimes visited a local beekeeper and watched him working. It was always fascinating to see him skilfully taking care of the bees. He had no conception of what we'd call "organic"; yet he was applying the organic method to his bees. This Beekeeper had all his colonies in one house and managed them from the inside. I never saw a bee suit or veil on him. He was just using his beekeeping pipe to avoid getting stung on the face. He cared for his bees passionately. All parts of the bee home were made from wood and he used no chemicals on his bees as far as I can remember. They were left with their own honey for the wintertime and only the surplus was taken off. Here a short vid from one of my beekeeping friends in Germany:
Somehow the whole beekeeping thing got completely out of sight for me until in my late twenties. What really set me on fire to learn about bees were my travel adventures. I started travelling in my mid-twenties, and my first trip for almost 3 months took me to Alaska and Canada. Kayaking for weeks on the Yukon River to the Klondike River to reach Dawson City; watching the Northern lights and being mesmerised by nature every day was setting me up for leaving my home country. One day on my journey I met a woman who I hung out with for several days. We talked about our travel experience at length for hours and hours. That was the first time in my life that someone told me about New Zealand and its beauty..... and about an aged beekeeper living in a nudist community. Then and there I was primed for life. Without that women's story, my life would have gone in a totally different direction.