“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.

56 thoughts on “About the Campaign

  1. Just signed up very interested to see how you deal with issues of the obscerne cruelty inflicted on factory farmed animals? Is the UK going to install CCTV cams in ALL slaughterhouses? I am in Canada and we have virtually nothing here to protect factory farmed animals The UK and Europe in general I think is far more aware of animal sentience and the more humane way of treating animals in the food system? I do not eat meat and have not for 20 years I will not eat cruelty!

  2. I have just read Colin Trudge’s latest book and althouth lam not a farmer l teach nutrition and have had a small holding in the past and am very interested in food and its future and the welbeing of the world in the wisest sense.If there is any way l can help please ask!
    knid regards

  3. It is most important that we respect our indigenous farmers throughout the world and help them feed us.
    Our small farmers in U K have been trodden out in a similar way to the Aborigines in Australia and the bushmen of the Kalahari.
    When it comes to wisdom of land it cannot just be taught at college.
    The real wisdom is passed down from those who have it in their blood,words like permaculture,organic,what do they mean if we don’t have integrity?

    I recently supplied some land for allotments,
    within a year the site was full with 25 plots taken,
    This proves that people need to be on the land and to trust the food they eat.there is nothing more precious than land.
    It is unthinkable whatever the monetary value to build on prime growing land.
    Tread lightly on the land and it will feed us.
    Abuse our land ?
    The future is unthinkable

  4. Looking forward to receiving your newsletter. I am currently writing on the human- non-human-animal-relationship.
    Kind regards!

  5. I am concerned that not enough might have been done during the consultation period on the draft National Planning Policy Framework to put the case for enabling or permissive policies for agri-ecological developments. Over the last thirty years there has been a steady steam of applications made by very determined individuals to develop individual smallholdings. However many of these schemes receive permission from local councils or exceptionally on appeal, the need for a very large number of horticultural and small farming enterprises will not be met.

    The Government needs to understand that the roles played in the past by council smallholdings and research establishments could and should be played by a new breed of rural enterprises. It is grossly unfair to both applicants and local councils/communities to be dealing with this serious issue on an ad hoc basis. The numbers of enterprises required will only be achieved if the special contribution which these new smallholdings can make is recognised and privileged through policies at national level. However much the enthusiasm of individuals is required as part of this transition, the scale of change required requires systemic approach.

    Once Government can be made to appreciate the benefits of such developments (a crucial role for the Campaign for Real Farming) and the need for enabling policies, one of the criteria which could prove attractive to local government and communities is to express a preference for sites on the edge of towns and villages. In these locations a number of houses could be built in co-housing schemes to which the land for growing and livestock would be closely associated. The vision of the ‘garden city’ has not entirely died.

    Whist this approach might not be popular with those seeking a remote and sufficient lifestyles (who can still pursue their dreams), in terms of landscape impact, local food and local jobs, the urban fringe has significant advantages.

    The availability of or access to land in the urban fringe is limited due to the ‘hope value’ created by urban expansion. However, when the NPPF puts in place the presumption in favour of sustainable development the opportunity will be created to explain to local and national planning authorities (and then landowners) that only forms of co-housing would accord with that presumption and, on the other sign of this fortuitous coin, the forms of development which might create greater hope value are unsustainable and should therefore be resisted.

    It might not be possible to influence the final form of the NPPF but, as soon as it is published every effort should be made to put ‘out there’ both the principles of sustainability which would be found in cooperatives incorporating housing and food growing, and the unsustainability of conventional models of housing and growing. These principles can then be picked up in local development frameworks and then through planning decisions and appeals.


  6. I coordinate Mid Wales Permaculture Network, see website above. I would like to run an article on our website on the work of the Campaign for Real Farming, including a report on the recent conference in Oxford. Would someone from the organisation be willing to provide a suitable article?

    many thanks in anticipation,
    best regards
    Roz Brown

  7. Hi Colin and Ruth

    I’m really moved by what I’ve seen so far of your Conference talk, and will watch the rest very soon.

    Something I would really like to suggest to you is possibly something you have already begun to look at, and that’s healing the community of soil organisms. This is a field I’ve been looking at for twenty five years from a novel perspective, and would like to explore it with your group. I’m a homeopath, and in the matter of disinformation, homeopathy has been even more reviled than sensible farming methods. However it works, it is effective on animals, and my area of interest is horticulture and soil. If you are interested I can send you a copy of a recent article I wrote about the removal of GM traces from plants and the soil, and would be interested in your response

    All the best
    Stella berg

  8. Looking forward to the newsletter. I grow up on a farm, 1958 to 79 then worked as a carpenter. Since then, I studded conservation. I am now working on redeveloping a farm network. Coppice, replanting head grows and a mix of food production unites.

  9. Hi,

    I think that the idea of enlightened farming is a good one, and while I see the need for colleges in places like the UK and the US asap, similar campaigns would go down well in Ireland where I’m from and Italy where I live.

  10. Hello,
    I’m looking to buy crown prince pumpkin.
    Where and when can I buy it from?
    I’m not sure come to the right place.
    If do know please help me to get hold of it.
    Thank you do much,

  11. Hello Colin

    I heard on BBC Farming Today, that you quoted a paper that said the prices received by a farmer is 8% of supermarket’s retail; 21% of local retail and 53% of farmers market.

    Could you send me a link to this article?

    thanks and regards

  12. Many thanks Mme Lepage.
    It’s crystal clear that Prof. Seralini has uncovered what the biotech giants and their regulatory friends don’t want the world to know. When eminent scientists resort to defamation of independent researchers with undisguised ferocity, something is clearly amiss. The same thing is happening here in Kenya where scientists from the biotech sector are referring to Seralini as a hoax! Fortunately, their external affiliations and sponsorships are known. Keep it up Mme Lepage!

  13. Why not use the Localism Act and the National Planning Policy Framework to initiate an agricultural revolution? Most of the countryside in areas covered by parish councils empowered by the Act to produce neighbourhood development plans. One of the basic conditions for NDPs is that they must contribute to sustainable development in accordance with the NPPF. If the local planning authorities are unwilling to adopt policies applicable to the whole district sufficient to support a substantial growth in smallholdings this job could be taken up by parish councils. Housing policies could (currently under s106) require new residential development to include affordable dwellings subject to agricultural occupancy conditions and a reasonable area of associated land on affordable terms. Countryside and biodiversity policies could support permaculture, community support agriculture, agroforestry etc. Employment policies should support the creation of jobs in local food production, processing and distribution. Transport policies could note the advantages of local food in reducing the need to travel. Policies could also support the reuse of rural buildings for these purposes. Robust evidence that these policies would result in sustainable development should assist in their adoption at district and/or parish level. All this would be ‘waste paper’ unless there are sufficient people able and willing to take advantage of the new opportunities in farming that would arise.


  14. Please come and talk to the isle of wight farmers with me, this island could be a real example of resilient change.

  15. Fascinated to read more. I organic hobby farmed in Brasil 1999 -2007.Conducted several small experiments using common sense and trial and error – Rich’ey

  16. Hello
    I have only just now ‘found’ your wonderful site – and look forward, as time permits, to harvesting, learning, sharing from your articles and insights.

    Earlier today I visited a website – whose objectives and approach I sense you might also appreciate. Sadly I just missed their open day on June 1st 2013 …. it is Stream Farm, by the Quantock hills in Somerset – set up by James & Henrietta Odgers. http://www.streamfarm.co.uk/about-us/

    especially their vision that “to show that the British countryside is far better served by large numbers of small farms selling their produce directly to those who are going to eat it rather than by just a few huge farms selling to the supermarkets”

    “To that end, we have started quite a number of small farming businesses on our 250 – acre farm with the intention of handing each one on, once it can be seen to be profitable and can earn a livelihood, to farmers who want to be part of the vision”

    best wishes

  17. Colin and Ruth
    Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed meeting you and learning from you at Kew the other day. Your talk made me think and gave me some new ideas. Thank you! I’ve subscribed to your updates and look forward to following your work.

  18. Congratulations for your work. We need people like you to keep well informed.
    Francisco Mata, MD.

  19. Dear Colin,
    I was at the APPG on Agroecology yesterday, and wanted to ask both you and CAFS about input to/from the National Farmers’ Union? I’m not a farmer, but from what I can see the NFU is pretty much wedded to agribusiness, is that right? It would seem to be a pity if they cannot be persuaded to be a voice for agroecology/real farming, whatever. The website says they are committed to supporting organic farming – but what does that mean?

    Sorry to bother you with trivial questions, but perhaps you could manage a brief reply?



  20. Just reading about that you are looking for premises.
    We are tenant farmers to the National Trust in the Tamar Valley, Cornwall.
    There are plenty of buildings here which could be used in other ways.
    If you were interested in converting them…..


  21. Although we are on the other side of the world we are with you 100% and trying to bring about the renaissance you write so beautifully about!

    Best wishes

  22. hi everyone i am in the process of purchasing a property with 3 acres of land with stables and a large barn would that be suitable for mixed farming and are there people in your organisation that could advise me.kind regards les

  23. I have been searching for this for a long time. I will get in touch very soon. I have no web site at this time, this will be changed in a few weeks. I have been reading Colins books, that propted me to get in touch.

  24. am a nigerian and am into farming,rearing of animals and cash crops,i ll be glad if i can get an online institute, i wish advance my agricultural skills with diploma in animal breeding,agribusiness, and other useful info,thanks

  25. I’m in full accord with the aims of this campaign.
    In my book ‘More Scenes from a Smallholding’ I suggest a scheme for buying out a couple of state-subsidised Barley Barons and repopulating their prairies with smaller organic and inter-linked farms and smallholdings.
    I’ll be happy to send more details if anyone’s interested in discussing such an idea.

  26. do you have an email list that I can sign up to in order to receive regular information about the conference/events etc?
    many thanks

  27. Please keep ip the good work. I grew up in a rural farming town and sadly watched the small farms close down. There are books written about the systematic corporate take over of the local farms. I am not an organization, but am interested in the progress of your mission, and hope to one day soon grow much of my own food.

  28. Hello, I wondered if you could help find out if your organisation is connected to the new milk labelling system that shows consumers miIk is from cows with access to pasture during the year. I heard about this on the radio, from a Somerset farmer and I would like to support the campaign.

    Best wishes

  29. Hi

    I am researching varietiies of naked oat to grow on a small field scale in collaboration with local farmers. Are oyu able to advise about sources of tasty naked oat seed that is suitable for growing oats for human consumption

    Many thanks


    07857 811994

  30. Hello Colin and Ruth,

    Hope all is well. Looking at your wonderful website and full of admiration at how much you have achieved with the CFRF. All well here. Our son angus has joined us to farm which is thrilling. The market is growing for organic grass fed meat …. there is real change taking place. I seem to recall when you initially set the website up that interested / committed farms could register and I recall registering us ?? Maybe I am dreaming this ?? We are absolutely committed to the principles of Agrarian Enlightenment and would like to add weight to your campaign simply by ‘being’ and farming as we do and hopefully make it to the next conference !
    With much love

  31. Dear Colin,
    I am very interested in what you are developing. I run a small project called Soil, Silence and Service. It is based at the moment as a incubator project from the walled garden of the monastery of Christ Our Saviour in Turvey, Bedfordshire. I have lived with the brothers there for some time and have now established a six weekend program for re-connecting to the soil, to managing land and with this, the importance of silence in the world and re-discovering the opportunity to serve the planet and serve humanity. The project is as I say at an early stage but the brothers have been pleased with what has been developing. Each of the workshops attracts around 10 people for the weekend. I have six more weekends in this program and would be extremely interested to invite you to come and share your work and vision for farming with us. If you are around Bedfordshire and Turvey this weekend, please drop in. :) With blessings, Benedict.

  32. Picked up Good Food for Everyone Forever in Blackwells the other day. An utterly inspiring read which I’ll now be recommending to everyone.
    Would love to join The Campaign. I’ve probably missed something in my quick skim through of your website just now and missed where to click for membership, but please sign me up. Thank you (and thank you also for creating a movement with such a precisely structured and highly motivational vision for the future).
    John Wood
    September Cottage
    TW12 2SW

  33. I have to absolutely agree with all your principles ! As a mushroom grower and food producer it is essential to move forward to establish a critical mass of like minded individuals.

    We are looking to establish a gourmet and medicinal mushroom farm in the north of England. coupled with a farming model based on permaculture ,but essentially integrated with funghi,as in nature!. The mushrooms will be used fresh and to manufacture high value ,nutrient dense foods, ie:healthy burgers,sausages etc.

  34. Hello – I have just come across our site which is very interesting and I agree that we should find more sustainable ways of using our land.
    I do however have a concern about the rapid loss of our gardens and the increase in businesses springing up for ‘a maintenance free garden’. More and more, people appear to be opting to concrete over their gardens, when others people who do not have access to gardens but would love to manage one, are unable to do so. This is my view will not only contribute to future flooding in the wider context but will also reduce the potential for more food growing, expedite the rapid loss of biodiversity and our wildlife which is becoming more and more fragmented. I feel this is because of seemingly limitless and often ad hoc development, made possible by the government’s planning reforms and which is now encroaching on green space. Coupled with more general wide spread over-development, the loss of gardens just exacerbates the problems.
    In my view, the frenzy to build more and more houses without environmental limits, is largely based on economics rather than need.
    I wondered whether this could be part of any campaign to sell the benefits of real gardens?

    Thank you.

  35. Dear Colin,

    I’m a small farmer in Galloway with a beef suckler herd, run on agro-ecological principles. I’m a member of Nourish Scotland, and of the Scottish Green Party. I’m in full sympathy with your principles and aims. If you have a database of contacts, please add me to it.

    Best Wishes

    Richard Middleton

  36. I work and live for wildlife conservation. Your campaign and your cause is vital, I believe many of the causes you are fighting for are also true of nature conservation. I have been concerned about the health of soils for a while and I think it is something that it fundamental to sustainable agriculture in the 21st century. I wish your campaign all the best.

  37. Model farm – please tell me more. It is just possible I may have a proposal for you. A small family farm in Suffolk – 140 acres productive land (actual farm over 200 acres with other land leased for horses and woodland); mostly pasture (95 acres). Accommodation = a 3-bed cottage available. And 2 x guest rooms in main house. Seasonal space for larger groups in yurts in woods; 40′ meeting room; other temporary spaces. Current contract for land expires end February 2017 and so an opportunity has arisen. Am considering various options at the moment. Is this of any interest to you? Would be grateful if you could reply. Thank you.

  38. Hi there i’m planning on writing/photographing a book on the current agricultural renaissance covering small scale growers farmers and thier more ecological/ethical ways of growing/farming and thier end produce
    Is there any form of grants or funding that you know of that i could apply for please?
    Thankyou very much for your time
    Dave Carey

  39. Hi,
    Is there any way members of the public lile myself can get involved? Any leaflets need distributing? Thanks

  40. Dear Sirs / Mesdames,

    AS a follow-up, is the info below recently sent to Farmers Weekly of any use or interest?


    Food Follies?

    Dear Sirs / Mesdames,
    The current heatwave has triggered much concern about climate change, although it may be a little late to address matters by just tweaking Western lifestyles. Arctic temperatures in some areas this year were 25 C above normal despite few of the usual suspects e.g. cars, cheap flights, cows, coal-fired power stations and chemical fertilisers. As ice melts, less solar energy is reflected and the exposed darker surfaces absorb more heat. Trapped gasses escape causing more warming and more melting which eventually causes permafrost to melt and so on; climate change refugees soon should not be surprising. Yet climate change could also take an unexpected turn.
    One slight possibility is the Gulf Stream reducing causing Britain and Ireland to cool in an otherwise warming planet while a major volcanic eruption like Tambora in 1815 can cause global coolin. Ash temporarily reduces solar input then sulphur dioxide from the volcano reacts with water vapor to form sulphurous acid then oxidises to give droplets of sulphuric acid. These reflect solar energy and led to 1816 being described as “A year without a summer” with global temperature crashes.
    Add in pests, diseases and more routine weather variation and the need for robust and flexible food supplies should be obvious, especially conventional economic policies perverse treatment of food surpluses. Demand for food is price inelastic (we don’t double consumption if prices halve) so plentiful food supplies can actually punish suppliers. There is no defined responsibility for food security while land and resource usage is driven by short-term financial concerns; there has been a stampede near my home to cover chalk downland in oilseed rape and development, rather than combine such desirable areas with careful food production. Elsewhere rainforests face threats other than clearance for cattle or feed crops e.g. cash crops, logging, dams and mineral extraction. So, if major disruption occurred, there is potential for disaster. The belief that Britain can always import food could misfire badly if other countries sensibly put their own food security first.
    Still, much could be done in the UK, starting with livestock. The UNFAO’s 2006 report didn’t just flag problems; it concluded ““The livestock sector is responsible for a significant share of environmental damage”. With these changes, undertaken with an appropriate sense of urgency, the (livestock) sector can make a very significant contribution to reducing and reversing environmental damage.” More recent research in “Science” this year suggested that extensive livestock methods may do more harm than realized, although there were wide differences in the impact from different methods. Improvements are thus vital although I was disappointed by the authors’ superficial reaction on meat and dairy, though; meat and conventional livestock are not synonymous for a start.
    Stem-cell meat is a long-term possibility although less conventional livestock (e.g. capybara in South America or mussels, mealworms and snails in various places) are possible while numerous pest and culled species are edible but shamefully wasted. Somehow rabbit diseases and wasting woodpigeons seem to get under the radar of many people. There is some scope for combining conservation with careful usage (e.g. deer in woodland) while restoring fish stocks makes sense regardless. Still action is needed on conventional livestock but there is massive scope for improvement.
    Shovelling grain and soya down animals is wasteful but they can sensibly be fed on crop residues, damaged crops, natural vegetation and spent brewery grain, with their manure used for fertilizer and/or biogas. Methane reducing feed additives for ruminants have existed for years but not been adopted even though they can boost growth while integrated methods and siliviculture (especially for pigs) are further possibilities. Simply reducing waste would yield massive benefits; the IMechE’s “Waste Not Want Not” report (2013) estimated at least 30% of global food production never reaches shops or markets while wastage is widespread in supermarkets, other shops, restaurants, canteens, homes and airlines. There were even dissenting voices when fishing throwback was banned while overeating and excessive cash crop production don’t help matters either.
    Going back to first principles, food supplies need to be sufficient, secure, sustainable, affordable and available; they mustn’t chop down, dig up, pollute or overheat the planet nor open the door for other human activities to do so. The belief that more food from less space will ensure conservation is rather naïve. Changes are needed but won’t be sensibly achieved by naïve idealism, spoiled and complacent consumers or greedy commercial interests with no concern for food security. Instead major investment is needed together with a commitment to conservation and not wasting resources used up. Consumption also needs to vary with more sensible production (e.g. eating fewer fish while stocks are restored) rather than the other way around. This is a statement of the obvious to anyone in poorer countries but will cause outrage here; if a cattle cull were ever sensible, how many would be prepared to increase beef and offal production for a while, then east less beef and dairy later?
    The predictable retort will be “Typical farmers, always moaning and on the take” but I’m not a farmer. I work in engineering where I try to minimize the likelihood of control systems causing accidental air crashes and similar disasters. Strangely I realise that the day job is far less important than food security. The latter needs large amounts of time, effort and cold hard cash, including significant amounts from the well-off (including myself) and wealthy, at least unless the latter fancy going into farming themselves. The consequences of not getting food supplies right do not bear imagining.

    Yours faithfully,

    Iain Climie

  41. Just happened to walk past Oxford Town Hall, saw Michael Gove being interviewed and learnt about the Real Farming Conference.
    Having brought my family up on organic, locally grown food since 1980 I was happy to find that your conference is attracting more farmers to be interested in soil health, biodiversity etc
    There’s hope yet for the world……

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