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Science & Tech

Organic Farming

Dr. Jane Goodall

Lesson time 8:14 min

There is hope to combat the negative effects of industrial agriculture. Learn how organic farming helps restore forests, attract wildlife, and produce healthier and better tasting food.

Dr. Jane Goodall
Teaches Conservation
Dr. Jane Goodall shares her insights into animal intelligence, conservation, and activism.
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So people want to know if it's really this bad, if genetically modified food and monocultures aren't the answer because of all the harm they're inflicting on the environment, and probably on other animals and human health as well. What can we do? Well, what we can do is to move more and more in the direction of organic farming. That is farming without using pesticides-- chemical pesticides, and chemical herbicides, and chemical fungicides. It's food that's grown using the natural defenses of nature itself. And more and more people are becoming concerned about the commercial farming and the use of chemicals in farming and in agriculture, and moving towards organic products. They can cost a little bit more. But I always feel if you pay a little bit more for your food, you will respect it more, and you will waste it less. Because there's no question. We waste, in the Western world, huge amounts of food-- huge amounts of food. And yet on the other side of the world, there are people starving. So organic food and food that is produced in a holistic way, working with nature and not against nature, I visited a farm, an amazing farm created by Doug Tompkins, who tragically was killed two years ago. But this farm has turned the land from a monoculture, growing one kind of crop, to polyculture, growing many kinds of crops, just as used to be done in the olden days. It's a beautiful place. Animals are used for natural fertilizer. And it's been said, actually by the United Nations, that the way to feed the world in the future is not through industrial agriculture. It's through small-scale family farming. And if the United Nations, after a long investigation, can actually say genetically modified food has not increased the yield, then I think we can believe them. They're very conservative. I have a great friend who lives in the south of France. He's British, Robert Eden. And he has the largest organic vineyard probably in the world. And on part of this huge area, he practices biodynamic agriculture when he's growing his vines. And this, to me, is very fascinating. So many people now have adopted this. It's not just Robert. But you grow plants between your rows of vines that are good at fixing nitrogen in the soil, and you plow them back into the soil so that the soil is re-fertilized after the crop of grapes has been harvested. Some of these vineyards take sheep and let them graze in between the rows so that they get natural fertilizer. Robert uses horses to plow rather than having any kind of farm equipment contaminating the area where the plants are grown. He's created the area where the wine is fermented. And these buildings are made out of hemp bricks. It took him two years to get permission to use hemp bricks because of hemp's association with marijuana. But the actual wild hemp is very different. And these hemp bricks, they...

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There is still a window of time. Nature can win if we give her a chance. In her first ever online class, Dr. Jane Goodall teaches how you can conserve the environment. She also shares her research on the behavioral patterns of chimpanzees and what they taught her about conservation. You'll learn how to act locally and protect the planet.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This class was very inspirational and I also learned new way I can help. Really enjoyed this class!

The information was priceless from one the the greats. I am glad i got to hear from Jane herself.

This was an amazing treat - to learn all about Jane's history, what fueled her initial interest in chimpanzees, all the valuable information she learned about them, and then how she then became such an activist for conservation. She is a true gift to humanity.

This is an amazingly inspiring class! I didn't know Jane Goodall before taking this class, now I am in love of her voice and can't wait to learn more


Bernardo F.

I have my doubts on that full-moon grape harvest. I couldn't find a reliable source that explained that. I'm not sure that the Moon could create a major efect on sap distribution. Although I agree that we should not only consume, but also produce "organicly", this term has started to appear more often than it should. Some brands just started calling themselves "organic" just because they made their pack green. Others abuse this world just to charge more money. I've seen many absurd things in the supermarket under the lable of "organic" such as organic water, organic salt, and once I saw a synthetised compound (a non-natural one) being called "organic". Again, big companies are profiting with this. Sometimes, even if it's not "organic", it's better to consume localy, at least you're helping producers directly, you're lowering your carbon footprint. In the best-case scenario you can even start to cultivate your own food.

Antonia T.

Very disappointing (again) that Jane calls the British wine farmer by his name ("Robert") and doesn't say the name of the Tanzanian coffee farmer. She did that before in another presentation where she recalled her guide in Tanzania (but didn't mention his name). I'm sure she's not aware of this, but, sorry, Jane, that's very disappointing.

Antonia T.

Non-organic food taste awful! Non-organic carrots taste like meat! Really! We almost always buy organic. Luckily now it's possible in some supermarkets. Sometimes there are no organic fruits available , so we buy non-organic apples and bananas and tomatoes (very seldom). They taste really bad: we call them "garbage" fruits & vegetables.

Dominique S.

Jane Goodall has always been an inspiring woman, and this class was well presented with her calm voice and total commitment to her life’s work. It would have been useful to have more photos/videos especially when she was describing her work with the chimpanzees. There is a documentary about her on the National Geographic channel.

A fellow student

United Nations recommends small family farming . I come from York , PA where Germans settled . They were farmers . In my area , there have been small farms passed down to families for generations . BUT , children no longer want to take on the responsibility . People no longer go downtown to the Central Market . Society wants convenience and one stop shopping .Plus , small farming does not bring in the income . As we know , BIG BUSINESS does . The farms around me are being sold right and left . Most for housing . Dairy farmers are selling their farms ? Any suggestions ?

Diana H.

It took an organic grape farmer two years to get permission to use hemp bricks?! Such a culture of fear around marijuana products. I love that he picks the grapes at full moon because it draws the sap up the vine into the full grape and makes them the juiciest! The moon pulls the tide even in grapes! Our former family business was organic shade grown coffee shop. It is wonderful to hear about JGI point of view. Bees and birds returned to a trout area with shade grown coffee. Top prize in Tanzania for best coffee! congratulations !

Elisabeth L.

I'd love to see John and Molly Chester (from Biggest Little Farm documentary) give a Master Class on Sustainable Farming. They have so much to teach in this area

Kevin W.

"If the United Nations, after a long investigation, can actually say Genetically Modified Food has not increased the yield, then I think we can believe them." Unfortunately, this appears to be a bit of confusion on Jane's part. She appears to be citing the NYT article ( that uses UN data to compare crop yields between the US and Europe and finds little difference overall. It's a legitimate concern, but it's not entirely scientific and it's what we call 'data dredging'. It is also not the conclusion of the UN, only a conclusion drawn using their data. In fact the UN WHO website does admit that GMO crops produce a higher yield ( and a meta-analysis found an average 22% increase in crop yields. (

Kay K.

I love the idea of organic food, however I struggle with the label of organic because it has a connotation of only for richer people and sometimes a rip-off. For example, there are food items labeled as organic in the supermarkets that cannot be nonorganic and have the priced jacked up, even though there's no difference. Same with GMO. I try to buy organic milk because I feel better when I drink it (I don't very much, just to make kefir), but it's hard to navigate how to no feel ripped off by an organic label.

Nika V.

I hope to grow my food soon. Meanwhile, we support organic and local organic agriculture when we shop or go to the weekly farmers market. The farmers market here in Florida is fantastic with a few huge farm booths with everything from veggies, to fruit to herbs to flowers. The best way is still growing my own in mindfulness and care.