Colin’s first weekly blog about the College for Real Farming and Food Culture
It’s obvious from all that’s happening that the world has lost its bearings. Not only is it in perpetual conflict. It’s built on conflict. The prevailing, neoliberal economy is designed to be maximally competitive (give or take the odd cartel) and competitions produce many more losers than winners. The people in charge from Kim Jong-un to Donald Trump beggar belief while at home we have the sad distractions of Brexit and UKIP with Theresa May in the guise of Boudicca, and horrendous inequalities, and all public services on the brink, and a housing policy that’s designed to keep the prices high by limiting the supply (just as De Beer’s limits the supply of diamonds).
Worse-placed of all though – because so few seem to have noticed – is agriculture. There’s much talk of “progress” with huge machines and smart little robots and dazzling biotech, yet the whole sorry bandwagon is heading for the buffers, with farmers on their beam ends, soils rendered unfarmable, wildlife dying, and research in the hands of corporates, with busloads of itinerant workers of conveniently uncertain legal status to fill in the cracks. Plenty of farmers worldwide can see that things are dire and many are showing as far as circumstances allow how to do things better (a lot of whom attend the Oxford Real Farming Conference) while many more (also evident at the ORFC) are looking for the chance to get involved and do things differently; and we surely have the know-how to put things right, rooted in 40,000 years’ agricultural experience underpinned by science of the kind that can properly be called “appropriate”. But the science that prevails is of the gung-ho kind, plugged into a crude economy and overseen by opportunist governments obsessed by party politics, with a near-absence of common sense and common humanity.
We need nothing less than a Renaissance – a re-birth: metamorphosis. It won’t happen if we leave it to the powers-that-be for they are looking the wrong way. We – all of us – need to take matters into our own hands. Agriculture is the thing we absolutely must get right and although it is apparently the most disastrously placed and the most sewn-up of all human pursuits it is also the most susceptible to democratically-inspired transformation. The Grand Renaissance can begin with Agrarian Renaissance.
To help things along we’ve started The College for Real Farming and Food Culture. Please tune in to the website and join the conversation. I will remind you with (roughly) weekly blogs, of which this is the first.
Colin Tudge, May 6 2017