reverence and hope, New Farm introduces “Farming
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
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 Immortal Force.
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 demise.
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
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
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
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 work.
Send contact information, brief descriptions
and regenerative aspects of the efforts to greg.bowman@
-- Greg Bowman, on-line editor
Anna, Ill., in extreme
southern Illinois, about 10 miles east the Mississippi
River and about 24 miles north of the southernmost
tip of the state.
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.
8 years, this location
Total acreage: 60
about 30, of which only 2.5 are in production,
increasing with cover cropping at about one-quarter
acre per year.
vegetables, honey, medicinal herbs, eggs,
About 30 per cent to restaurants operated by the
group; balance split between local food co-op
and members of Dayemi Tariqat.
Illinois farm has spiritual
roots in Bangladesh & India
The word Dayem also arises from the name of the
Sufi Master Dayemullah.
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
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.
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
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
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 land
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
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 plants.
- 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-
- 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 area.
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 soil conditions.
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
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
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
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 and more.
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
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 more food.
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 ahead.
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
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