Business, Politics & Society

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 is the most inspiring class I have ever taken. Thank you so much!

Very enlightening. Became aware of a few things I did not know about, but most of all Jane's talks make me feel that I can do a lot of things related to improving conservationism and activism if you simply take it bit by bit.

An incredible story of resilience and empowering individuals to create small changes every day that can add up to create a great impact.

I have been aware of Jane Goodall for years but got new insights into some of the other areas she is interested in (besides chimps). A very good humanist class for anyone who wants a low key call to action.


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.

Mary H.

Wind turbines are not working due to solar radiation management. My wind turbine photo was taking while approaching Schiphol international airport.


I love the story about how that farmer took a bare piece of land and planted shade grown coffee trees, which had the positive result of regenerating the soil and bringing back the forests and birds. The hypoxic zone in the gulf of Mexico is an example of how conventional farming has damaged the environment far away from the source. Fertilizers get into the Mississippi River from the agricultural regions and empty into the Gulf causing low oxygen levels and this makes a large area unsuitable for aquatic organisms. Perhaps there could be a positive change in the Gulf if organic farming could be practiced and organic products could be kept at reasonable prices. I'm sure this applies to other parts of the world as well, such as the Great Barrier Reef.

Gretchin D.

Organic food tastes better and is better for our bodies and the environment. All of these pesticides and herbicides are ruining the soil which will make it harder to grow crops and are poisoning our air and water.

Mia S.

"Coffee - shade-grown coffee is very good for the coffee itself, it makes a better flavor. But also the shade-grown coffee is helping to restore the forest, which means other animals and birds and plants can come back. I met this lovely farmer - he was left a little piece of land by his father, and when he took over that land, it was completely bare, and he said, 'There were a few coffee plants and they looked so sad.' He'd been part of our youth program - he knew about shade-grown coffee. He got a little loan, he planted some trees, and because that soil is very good at regenerating, the trees began to grow, and when I went to visit him, he was so excited. 'The birds have come back! I've seen 14 different kinds of bird species. The animals are coming back. The soil has now got more moisture than it had. I found a toad the other day.' His coffee is absolutely top-grade. The coffee farmers have formed a cooperative, they got a loan to get one of these huge machines, so they give in their coffee crop, they get a little chit saying how much and this machine grades it and cleans it and it goes off to the coffee auction. Five years running, they got the top prize in Tanzania for the very best coffee."