Farewell to sustainable agriculture pioneer

DSC00733-croppedAustralian Organic pays tribute to one of Australia’s pioneers of sustainable agriculture.

Kathrin Dakin worked tirelessly to raise awareness about biodynamics, promoting organic farming when the practice was quite unusual at the time.

Kathrin died recently at the age of 90 and up until her death she lived independently at Cheswick, Victoria. Kathrin and her husband Arthur Dakin were among the seven founding families of Australian Organic (or Biological Farmers of Australia as it was called at the time).

The group of farmers who founded Australian Organic practiced biodynamic farming – a style of farming developed by Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner in the early 20th century, encouraging the use of composts and manures.

Chair of Australian Organic Dr Andrew Monk says Kathrin is an example of the women often in the background of Australian agriculture, responsible for contributing so much to farming, but not often recognised for it.

He says, “You can just imagine what it would have been like for her holding views about this form of sustainable agriculture in the 50s and 60s – cutting edge and unique in her views.”

Kathrin was also the first wife of Alex Podolinsky who brought biodynamics to Australia.

Andrew says, “She was the beginning of a whole generation that is passing. Kathrin was an amazing, rare breed of the very early pioneers of the sustainable farming movement. The practices that she taught and promoted are widely practiced in farming today.”

Australian Organic founding member (and the creator of the Australian Certified Organic Bud logo) and owner of Four Leaf Milling, Rosemary Dunn, says Kathrin was a delight, providing strong support and helping wherever she could.

“She was a dignified lady with a wealth of knowledge in biodynamic farming, in particular gardening.  One always looked forward to speaking with her about her continuous biodynamic experiments.

“Her whole thinking was biodynamics and when giving out information in her enthusiastic way, she was never forceful, it came forth true to Rudolf Steiner, as only a suggestion and what she was doing herself.”

Rosemary says one could not but help have a real affinity with this beautiful lady who always had a twinkle in her eye as she spoke.

Australian Organic pays its respects to Kathrin and is thankful for all she contributed to organic agriculture.