The College

The basic task

Enlightened Agriculture is a simple idea — but infinitely complex in practice. Everything has to be thought through afresh from first principles. The task of the College for Enlightened Agriculture is to do the necessary thinking.

Conceptually, this task is divided into five strands:

1: Dialogue

“College” is understood in the traditional sense: not as a top-down dispenser of accepted wisdom, but as a meeting ground for people with shared interests to discuss and develop ideas. The task is to identify key issues, bring them into the open, identify discrete topics for research, and seek to ensure that the right people undertake the studies that are needed. The Campaign for Real Farming as a whole will become the eyes and ears of the College, bringing to light the issues that need to be discussed.

2: Research

Some of the research that is seen to be necessary can and should be carried out within the College itself. When the required research is more technical – including much of the science – the College will seek to link up with some university or centre that is better equipped for the task.

To a large extent, present-day agricultural research pursues a great many issues that are of little or no true benefit to humanity or the world, while neglecting a great deal that is.

3: Symposia

We can envisage a series of symposia focusing on specific issues of the kind that seem at present to be falling through the cracks of conventional thinking.

4: The think tank

All of the above will help to develop coherent theses to throw new light on the world’s problems. Since we will be gathering information from everyone who takes a serious interest this could reasonably be seen as “a people’s think-tank”.

Ideally, if and when the College acquires its own premises, it would be good to create the agricultural equivalent of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico – where scientists and other thinkers from all over the world with a special interest in the phenomenon of complexity, in effect drop in to exchange ideas.

5: Formal education

In the fullness of time, and in association with established centres of learning, the College could offer long-term courses at least at post-grad level, and shorter term residential and non-residential courses at all levels and on all relevant topics. Much could be achieved by what is now called “Remote learning”. If we ever acquire permanent premises the College could help to train the new generation of new-thinking farmers that Britain and the world so desperately needs.

How the College might develop

At present, the College is just a website — part of the Campaign for Real Farming. Even in this form – perhaps abetted by twitter, facebook, you-tube and doubtless others – we could involve vast numbers of people. But it would be good if we had the resources to do other things as well: to host meetings; publish pamphlets, reports, and even full-size books; produce CDs and films.

A permanent home – and the dream of a model farm

Ideally, as soon as the opportunity arises, we would like to establish permanent premises, and to set up a model farm. The farm would try out and demonstrate ideas and techniques; it would become a key player in the life of the local community; and it would provide an income stream. Then beyond doubt we would have a true Centre of Education – exploring both the minutiae of farming, and the myriad ways in which farming interacts with everything else that human beings do, and with the Earth itself.

Whatever form the College takes, the curriculum must be broad. In the present website, the essays are grouped under no fewer than 14 headings, as shown in the left-hand column – and there would be 15, except that for logistic reasons we have given “Food Culture” its own, separate section. The overall point, as throughout the whole Campaign, is to engage with the world at large. So please get involved – and please write for us!

Job Vacancy: Oxford Real Farming Conference & College for Real Farming & Food Culture

We’re recruiting for a new conference manager and college event organiser. The Oxford Real Farming Conference dates for next year are January 8 & 9. This will be our 11th … Read on

The battle for the future of farming: what you need to know

This article, by Michel Pimbert and Colin Anderson (Centre for Agroecology Water and Resilience, Coventry University) was published in The Conversation, Nov 18 2018 It is widely agreed that today’s … Read on

Why cows properly cared for are good – for the land, the climate, and us

This from Tom Chapman a livestock farmer, agriculture consultant and founding member of the Pasture Fed Livestock Association: “The oft-mentioned trope about emissions from animals and their other, supposedly damaging, … Read on

Natural Capital: a neoliberal response to species extinction

In this article, Ian Rappel attacks the thinking and ambition behind the drive to attach a monetary value to biodiversity and nature – that it “is being portrayed as a … Read on

The global status of agroecology

Michel Pimbert (Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience) pulls no punches in this overview of agroecology as he traces its origins, its current popularity at governmental and intergovernmental levels, and … Read on

See all articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.