reverence and hope, New Farm introduces “Farming
Spiritual values persist
within farmers and farming communities, despite all
the forces that discount or ignore them.
Our new section will highlight farmers who own their
faith and live out their spirituality in how they manage
their land, relate to people and see themselves in the
really big picture.
In traditional farming communities – even in
North America – faith in God, gods or other deities
was a natural part of life. The utter dependence on
the right working of soil and season, plow and plant,
humans and heavens tied mortals to beliefs of their
In farming as in all sectors, modern and now post-modern
thinking challenges the role of faith as a foundational
element. Technology that pretends to give humans “control”
over nature, production-focused thinking that discounts
ecological and social costs, dependence on economic
return, and market forces that confound the link between
abundance and prosperity have all contributed to this
Yet as the limitations of the Green Revolution –
and now the Gene Revolution – to fundamentally
shift the true capacity of the land become apparent,
farmers are left seeking a spiritual and values-orienting
“center” in the post-scientific age.
Centuries-old farming systems provide inspiration from
more than their biological fit in their ecological niche.
Even as they are threatened by globalization, many spiritually
grounded communities are gathering strength –
and providing vision to the many streams of a global
New Agriculture movement.
Eternal principles – and the convictions that
arise in farmers tied to them – take a long-term
view of caring for land, water, people and other species.
These values are often in conflict with demands for
short-term profit and efficiency, setting up a tension
which gives these values-based outlooks both a winsome
vitality and a continuing challenge.
NewFarm.org’s “Farming & Faith”
section will feature farmers and groups that consciously
work out of spiritual values to practice regenerative
farming. Common to their vision of agriculture is a
depth of caring for the land and for their responsibility
to farm for more than economic profit.
The series will include individual farmers in harsh
locations (think the West Bank of Israel/Palestine),
urban farmers dedicated to providing food for the poor,
farmer co-ops with a distinct vision in developing or
developed nations, and change-oriented communities in
conventional rural settings – the best description
for our initial offering in southern Illinois.
We welcome suggestions for farms and groups to profile.
Our stories will capture their essence and their orientation
to explain what powers their approach and lightens their
Send contact information, brief descriptions and regenerative
aspects of the efforts to greg.bowman@
-- Greg Bowman, on-line editor
Location: Anna, Ill., in extreme southern
Illinois, about 10 miles east the Mississippi River
and about 24 miles north of the southernmost tip of
Key people: Wayne Weiseman, farm director,
six full-time workers from the Carbondale region’s
60-member Dayemi Tariqat (spiritual path) community,
and volunteers from this group and elsewhere.
Years farming: 8 years, this location
Total acreage: 60 acres
Tillable acres: about 30, of which
only 2.5 are in production, increasing with cover cropping
at about one-quarter acre per year.
Crops: vegetables, honey, medicinal
herbs, eggs, renewable energy
Marketing: About 30 per cent
to restaurants operated by the group; balance split
between local food co-op and members of Dayemi Tariqat.
farm has spiritual roots in Bangladesh & India
The word Dayem also arises from the name of the Sufi
He created a land-based project in rural Bangladesh
at Ibrahimpur, which includes agricultural projects,
a school and orphanage, a fish hatchery, and several
Baba Dayemullah showed disciples and villagers how
to meet their physical needs and develop local economies,
while simultaneously caring for the poorest of the poor
in a country riddled with poverty. We continue to support
them through fund-raising projects here in America and
by frequent visits to Bangladesh where we offer consultation
to the various projects.
P.R. Sarkar (Baba Anandamurti), another one our influences,
was a great Indian saint and Tantric master. He died
in 1990. Sarkar proposed the Master Unit, a complete
model for self-reliant living which provides sustainably
for the basic necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter,
healthcare, education and an environment free from fear.
The theory of Progressive Development, which calls
for a complete renewal of society based on care of our
natural systems and social institutions, has been developed
by Sheikh Din Mohammed al Dayemi, our teacher and leader.
Progressive Development teaches that all of our work
must begin within a spiritual context. Political, economic,
social and educational systems sit on a wheel with God
as the hub around which everything else revolves. –
Nestled amongst the
hills of the Shawnee National Forest, Dayempur Farm reflects the
natural diversity found in southern Illinois. Here, five distinct
ecosystems create a spectacular backdrop consisting of rich geological
history and countless botanical and animal life forms. It is near
the town of Anna, about 10 miles east of the Mississippi River and
two dozen miles from the state’s southern tip.
Dayempur Farm is the spiritually-centered, land-based project of
Dayemi Tariqat (in Arabic, “spiritual path”). This community
is part of the Sufi tradition, which reflects the mystical side
of Islam. Dayempur arises from two words: the word Dayem, from Arabic,
means ancient of ancients, and pur, from Sanskrit, means place.
We draw from a 1,400 year-old lineage that passes through Bangladesh
and the late Sufi Master Sheikh Sufi Sayyed Dayemullah. The lineage
was brought to the West in 1990 by Sheikh Din Muhammed Abdullah.
Our community settled in southern Illinois in 1995, where we now
operate the farm and several businesses and service projects. (For
more on the spiritual heritage of Dayempur Farm, see box, "Illinois
farm has spiritual roots".)
Our foremost intention is for Dayempur to become a working educational
model in which spiritual, environmental, social, economic and political
realms are addressed in order to awaken spiritual consciousness
in all areas of our lives. The vision of Dayempur is to develop
self-reliance, build community and teach of sustainability.
Borrowing from many traditions to farm on chemical-free
The farm produces 35 kinds of vegetables on 2.5 acres currently
under cultivation of a total of 60 acres. Harvest goes to two restaurants
operated by community members, a local food pantry, and to the Dayemi
Tariqat families. Other farm enterprises include medicinal herbs,
honey, laying hens, and grapes.
We are expanding the farmed area by about a half-acre per year,
using cover crops to transition the rolling land into horticultural
use. The farm’s two previous owner-families never used chemicals
in their farming operations.
We apply many other approaches to land care here. Our most important
methodology, however, is trial and error, as well as the courage
to forge ahead by putting ideas into practice.
Through the methodologies of permaculture we are
developing what its founder Bill Mollison called “a sustainable
land-base, an agriculturally productive ecosystem with the same
diversity, stability and resilience as our natural ecosystems.”
Permaculture-inspired features at this time include:
- A large forest garden which contains a hundred
species of medicinal and culinary herbs, food, fruit and utility
- Use of the zone system, which starts at zone
zero with the home and radiates out in concentric circles from
the most visited farm area to the least (this is the basis for
what and where we place specific elements in the landscape).
- Alley cropping, where every sixth row of our
larger crop areas contain perennials such as fruit trees and herbs.
- Attention to water flow and collection.
- Developing microclimates for growing- season
- Utilizing recycled and local resources.
- Clean and efficient power generation.
- Many uses of appropriate technology.
Grow Bio-intensive® gardening is a combination
of Biodynamics and the French intensive method, brought to this
country by master gardener Alan Chadwick in the 1960s and continued
by John Jeavons in California. This the system that we utilize in
our winter greenhouse, where we plant our crops in 4- by 20-foot
raised beds with plants in hexagonal patterns packed closely together
so that they act as a living mulch. The crops we plant here are
considered the most nutritious foods that we can plant in the smallest
The natural farming practice of Japanese field
biologist Masanobu Fukuoka, who uses a no-till, cover-crop rotation
throughout the year, is a concept that we are determined to implement
exclusively on our farm fields. We have been experimenting over
the past four years with cover crops specific to our climate and
The clay soil of Southern Illinois requires an abundant amount
of compost and organic material to keep it fertile. Through Fukuoka’s
methods we will be able to relinquish the use of compost and soil
amendments. The cover crops add organic matter and nutrients to
the soil as they die back and slough off material in the root zone.
From Biodynamics, a system of agriculture developed
by Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner in the early
twentieth century, we utilize the field sprays and compost preparations
which enliven soil micro-organisms.
Farm supplies two restaurants, base for education
We believe that local economies and self-sufficiency inspire people
to be more personally responsible in the way that we spend money,
and in what we purchase. During the six-year history of Dayempur
we have been developing an organized, systematic foundation that
will serve us for years to come.
Our fledgling businesses include weekly farmer’s market sales,
medicinal and culinary herbs, honey production, value-added products
such as canned goods and educational workshops. We offer three workshops
a year which include the arts of primitive living skills, agricultural
training and the many uses of appropriate technology.
Our community owns and operates two restaurants that we supply
with fresh produce and herbs throughout the year. We also offer
free produce to community members who put in many hours of volunteer
service work at Dayempur.
Many visitors come to Dayempur throughout the year, including those
from the annual National Solar Tour every October. Agricultural
extension educators have come for field-walks and demonstrations.
I lecture and consult extensively in the U.S., which generates lots
of interest in our work.
Sustainable energy at Dayempur
In 1954 Bell Laboratories developed the first silicon solar cell
which was originally used to power satellite communications. The
element silicon acts as a semiconductor, a substance which is able
to pass electricity partially through itself. In its functional
design, a semiconductor is part conductor, which passes electricity
freely, and part insulator, which blocks the flow.
As the sun’s rays fall on the silicon, or “photovoltaic
cell,” the electrons are excited in the cell and an electrical
reaction takes place. By connecting these small cells together with
a series of thin wires a solar panel is created. Panels produce
flowing current (rated in volts, amperes and watts) which is passed
along to a battery storage bank, directly into special lights and
appliances, or through an inverter -- a device that translates the
direct current produced by solar panels, wind generators or hydroelectric
generators into the alternating current that powers our homes.
We incorporate renewable energies like this as part of an integrated
farm organism that views technologies, machines and whatever else
we place in the landscape as part and parcel of the biological and
physical make-up of the land-base.
Four years ago, our first step was to purchase a 33-kilowatt diesel
generator -- enough to power an entire village -- to backup our
photovoltaic (solar) system. After much inquiry and study, numerous
phone conversations, and hours perusing catalogues, we selected
and purchased a system through a local southern Illinois solar enthusiast.
We poured an insulated concrete pad as the base for our power station.
We moved on the system’s power panel, which included two 110-volt
inverters, safety devices and a charge controller which regulates
the amount of energy coming into the system through the solar panels.
The 350-pound unit came from Washington State.
Finally, we dragged our 1,500-pound generator into place with trailer,
tractor, chains and muscle. Then we assembled the building around
it, using recycled materials on the farmstead to create a simple
pitched roof shed design. We used corrugated tin for its roof and
siding that we recycled from other buildings on our property. The
building is insulated well enough to maintain a fairly consistent
temperature throughout the year for optimal battery performance.
It is conveniently located west of our barn and shop.
Sixteen six-volt, deep-cycle batteries comprise the boxed-in bank
that stores solar and wind energy supplied by the sun, solar panels
and wind generator. Since our original purchase of four panels we
have added eight more for a total of twelve. The panels are mounted
on the roof of the barn and tilted at 43 degrees to match the latitude
of Anna, Illinois.
Also included in our system is a 400-watt wind generator mounted
through the roof of the barn on a 30-foot tall metal pipe. Our system
powers two farm houses, a freezer and three large refrigerators
(for the produce and food that we preserve from the fields), a well-pump,
irrigation, shop and outbuildings.
On the average throughout the year, our farm operation uses approximately
1,000 kilowatt hours of power – twice as much as we produce.
In the future we will double our number of panels and add a 900-watt
wind generator mounted on a 60-foot tower, which will bring us closer
to our goal of a stand- alone system. By constructing a central
power station we are able to provide energy resources to all building
sites, including our future community center, schoolhouse, cabins
We also use passive solar-design (i.e. solar-absorbent materials
situated to absorb the sun’s rays and the proper location
of windows and walls to capture maximum direct energy solar gain),
and hot water systems and radiant floor heat that use solar collectors
for storage. These, too, are significant parts of the farm’s
strategies for implementing ecologically sound, renewable energy
resources. We are currently constructing a traditional timber-frame
structure that will act as a community meeting hall and provide
lodging. It will be solar heated.
Restaurant oil will power farm to produce more
In recent years there has been an interest in creating safe and
natural fuels for powering our automobile engines, generators and
other petroleum-powered vehicles. Little do most people realize
that the original diesel engine was designed to run on peanut oil.
This year we will build a bio-diesel brewing apparatus in our barn
that recycles spent vegetable oil into highly efficient, clean fuel
-- for a minimal cost and little equipment. We will brew the used
oil from our two restaurants that, in turn, use more than a quarter
of all the vegetables we produce. The system on our farm will produce
fuel for our generator, tractor and the community vehicles that
run on diesel. So the food-system spent oil will help to produce
There is no end to renewable energy resources if we carefully design
them to tap into the infinite supply of sun and wind in balanced,
clean and efficient ways. The initial investment in renewables is
somewhat costly at this point, but easily justifiable by looking
Spread out over a number of years, renewable systems will pay for
themselves. Just as importantly, they provide a harvest of knowledge
in our efforts to manifest our spiritual values in practical form:
truth from the sun, the wind, the water; beauty in cleanliness and
simplicity; and sound judgment in utilizing the God-given gifts
of the natural world in healthy and harmonious ways.
Wayne Weiseman currently applies many skills as director of
Dayempur Farm. He also directs the Permaculture Project, which offers
lectures, workshops, curriculum development and on-site consultation
for farmers, homeowners and enthusiasts in the arts of gardening
and farming, sustainable building practices and the use of appropriate
technology and renewable energy.
He can be reached at: Dayempur Farm, 35 Nubbin Ridge Lane,
Anna, Illinois 62906, (618) 893-4822 or The Permaculture Project,
Box 1242, Carbondale, Illinois 62903-1242, 618-713-0537 email@example.com;