“Real Farming” is shorthand for “Enlightened Agriculture”: informally but adequately defined as
“Farming that is expressly designed to provide everyone everywhere with food of the highest quality, forever, without wrecking the rest of the world”.
The grand aim is to help to create “convivial societies within a flourishing biosphere”.
The methods of Real Farming are those of Agroecology, in which individual farms are conceived as ecosystems, and agriculture as a whole is seen as a key component of the biosphere.
The economic framework is that of Economic Democracy – in practice rooted primarily in small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that generally are conceived as social enterprises and often (increasingly) are community-owned.
Economic democracy is essentially cooperative – but cooperation is achieved by individuals and groups choosing to work together. It is not imposed top-down as in centralized economies.
The net result should be to achieve Food Sovereignty — the idea that individuals and communities everywhere must have control over their own food supply. This concept is now widely recognized and gaining ground worldwide, not least in Britain. In practice it is closely linked to the ideas of agroecology (although not all of its supporters subscribe to the particularities of economic democracy).
Land reform is vital. Land should be conceived not simply as a resource and still less as a commodity, an object of speculation, but as a universal, owned by nobody and by everybody, which individuals and communities may be privileged to make use of provided they take good care of it. The necessary land reforms can in principle be brought about without violence through the mechanisms of economic democracy.
The Campaign for Real Farming brings all these ideas together. The goals seem eminently desirable and are surely what most people worldwide would prefer, and the methods on the whole seem perfectly acceptable. Yet they are almost diametrically at odds with the strategies and the ambitions of governments such as Britain’s and of the neoliberal, corporate economy, which are intended above all to achieve dominance and ever-increasing material wealth (“growth”) through all-out competition between individuals and between countries. Overall, radical change is vital, and quickly – though it must be achieved as far as possible by peaceful means: not by revolution, which is too
damaging; nor simply by reform, which is too slow and too circumscribed; but by Renaissance – beginning new enterprises in situ, and allowing the status quo to wither on the vine. But since governments and the all-powerful corporates are committed to the status quo, people at large (all of us) must take matters into our own hands. The Renaissance must be “bottom-up” – driven and led by individuals and communities. The Campaign exists to promote this “bottom-up” Renaissance.
At present the Campaign has four strands:
- this website;
- Funding Enlightened Agriculture, which aims to direct pertinent streams of finance and offers business advice to enterprises that are in line with the Campaign’s aims (read more);
- the Oxford Real Farming Conference
- and the embryonic College for Enlightened Agriculture, conceived as a global forum for the exchange of ideas, and as a centre of learning and of outreach in all its forms (read more).
The Campaign – beginning with this website – was founded in 2008 by Colin and Ruth Tudge. The idea of the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC for short) came from Graham Harvey, and was taken forward (with increasing help from others) by Graham, Colin, and Ruth. The first ORFC was in 2010 – so 2014 was our fifth anniversary. Funding Enlightened Agriculture was launched at the 2012 ORFC with representatives from ethical bankers and investors, and others with relevant expertise. The College is work in progress. We are in negotiation.
The Campaign seeks to cooperate with like-minded organizations of all shapes and sizes the world over, from school farms to international agencies, and increasingly is doing so. The total mass of like-minded people worldwide is enormous – easily enough to bring about the change we need. A little more awareness and coordination seem all that is needed to open the floodgates.