Courses Overview >> Postgraduate Programmes >> Regenerative Food, Farming, and Enterprise

Regenerative Food, Farming, and Enterprise

Key Info

  • Join our learning community rooted in an ecological and systemic approach
  • Develop your practical knowledge and understanding of regenerative agricultural systems
  • Draw from the rich tapestry of local sustainable food producers of Dartington and Devon

About this course

This radical new course is designed to help you develop your knowledge and understanding of resilient human-scale food systems and learn the skills needed to design, influence or develop resilient, productive food-based networks and businesses of your own. With an ecological and systemic approach, you will carve out a path towards making a positive contribution to the food economy.

*Please note this course is currently going through Approval with our Accrediting Body The University oF Plymouth. You can register your interest for 2021 using the 'register for updates' facility on this page.

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Food production systems at present are ruining the planet and our health, enriching markets rather than the soil. "Regenerative" means to bring more to live ecologically and economically. Food and farming are major contributors to global warming change, when they could be contributing towards mitigating it. There is also a serious depletion of our most valuable resource: soils. This significant new programme will help you find new ways of thinking and doing, that can help encourage ecological systems to improve farm and food procuction for the benefit of people and the planet. 

Regenerative Food, Farming and Enterprise is concerned with the growth of resilient human-scale food systems through inspiring, skilling and supporting a new generation of growers, entrepreneurs, organisations and activists.

It will help you develop your knowledge and understanding of regenerative agricultural systems based on biological and ecological processes and food production that addresses social, ecological and economic challenges. You will learn the skills needed to design, influence or develop food networks and food-based businesses that are both resilient and productive, and you will have the opportunity to study agriculture and food production in a deeply interdisciplinary environment that promotes debate and innovation with an emphasis on exploring current debates around food futures.

The challenges facing society that this programme will address include:

  • the multiple challenges that the food system currently faces – climate change, escalating fossil fuel and food prices, food insecurity, soil degradation, biodiversity loss, global poverty and inequality – and their systemic links to the current economic model;
  • growing disillusionment with the dominance of mainstream food production approaches and solutions;
  • opportunities for new ecological and biological approaches to intensifying food production with an emphasis on ecosystem and human health.

The programme is rooted in an ecological and systemic approach within the holistic learning model of Schumacher College that attracts students and visiting teachers from all over the world. It explores the frontiers of new thinking and practices in Horticulture that together form a globally diverse effort to build resilient, sustainable and healthy food systems.

Schumacher College attracts people from all walks of life from across the globe – from growers and entrepreneurs to policymakers and social and environmental activists. This programme is designed to support a new generation of growers, leaders and activists to co-create the new food economy. It will be attractive to people at different stages in their life seeking to make a positive contribution to the food economy through enhancing their knowledge; acquiring practical skills; and sharing experiences with people from a diversity of regions.

Programme structure

This is a module-by module summary of the programme. For a more detailed overview of modules, see further down the page. Through the programme’s six modules, you will study a range of topics from soil health and pest control to food production and policy to ethnobotany and more! 

Module 1: Soil Health 
This module explores how regenerative practices bring soils more alive and how improved soil health can help food and farm enterprises. It demonstrates how improving the biodiversity of plants, fungi, fauna, and microorganisms can produce healthier soil structures, which in turn benefit cycles of water, nutrients and carbon, that  reduce erosion and improve carbon sequestration. The module uses scientific methods to evaluate improvements to soil health and other impacts.

Module 2: Food Systems to capture Carbon
This module investigates a number of regenerative practices from around the world and how they have been installed locally.  It explores current state of soils in the world, Europe and the UK and the possible consequences for societies, economies, food production and land use.  It examines how those adopting regenerative practices could be rewarded for their contribution to mitigating climate change. A range of practical sessions, in various contexts will enhance the understanding of implementation of regenerative land use practices.

Module 3: New Food Economy
This module identifies new local growing food economies based on regenerative farming that provide a more resilient and sustainable food system. These food economies pose a challenge to existing dysfunctional food systems. More diverse production and consumption will stimulate increased innovation that promotes healthier diets, more seasonal food, more locally adapted crops and livestock and shorter supply chains. Funding, either public or private, will be difficult, but essential, so all options will be explored.

Module 4: Food, Farming, and Enterprises 
This module examines the design and development of a food/farm-based enterprise.  It will raise the profile of local foods and show how value can be added when regenerative production systems are adopted.  It will show how the value of natural land based assets can be enhanced. The module will highlight opportunities to invest and diversify. It will examine different types of enterprises, the role of market research, and new ways of networking. It will explain why in the UK the adoption of regenerative farming is a farmer led activity. This module runs concurrent with module 3.

Module 5: Dissertation or Final Project
This module encourages students to demonstrate their capacity for independent study by applying their knowledge of regenerative practices to a topic appropriate to the degree, such as  consultancy tools, nutrition measurement, local food policies, research topics and consumer choices. Students are expected to submit their plans, practices and policies into present political context, and a wider philosophy about how we treat our earth.

Regenerative Food, Farming, and Enterprise

Applications will open soon. You can register your interest for 2021 using the 'register for updates' facility on this page.

This module explores how regenerative practices bring soils more alive and how improved soil health can help food and farm enterprises. It demonstrates how improving the biodiversity of plants, fungi, fauna, and microorganisms can produce healthier soil structures, which in turn benefit cycles of water, nutrients and carbon that reduce erosion and improve carbon sequestration. The module uses scientific methods to evaluate improvements to soil health and other impacts.

Module aims:

  1. To find out how to regenerate soil food webs, consisting of flora, fauna (macro and meso), fungi, and microorganisms, so as to improve soil functions.
  2. To demonstrate the importance of soil health in crop growth,  animal welfare, water holding and healthier diets.
  3. To demonstrate how increasing the biodiversity of life in soils helps drive biogeochemical processes that make life on earth possible.
  4. To recognise the role soil ecology plays in water, carbon and nutrient cycles that can enhance the wider environment
  5. To investigate scientifically how the key regenerative principles can improve soil health in practice.

This module investigates a number of regenerative practices from around the world and how they have been installed locally. It explores current state of soils in the world, Europe and the UK and the possible consequences for societies, economies, food production and land use. It examines how those adopting regenerative practices could be rewarded for their contribution to mitigating climate change. A range of practical sessions, in various contexts will enhance the understanding of implementation of regenerative land use practices.

Module aims:

  1. To investigate various examples of regenerative practices from around the world.
  2. To assess the state of soil health in the UK and throughout the world.
  3. To demonstrate the limitations of 'free markets' approach to improve soil health.
  4. To seek opportunities, particularly relating to climate change mitigation that will enhance soil capital.
  5. To develop field methods of measuring improvements to soil health, and how that may help ‘count carbon’.

This module identifies new local growing food economies based on regenerative farming that provide a more resilient and sustainable food system. These food economies pose a challenge to existing dysfunctional food systems. More diverse production and consumption will stimulate increased innovation that promotes healthier diets, more seasonal food, more locally adapted crops and livestock and shorter supply chains. Funding, either public or private, will be difficult, but essential, so all options will be explored.

Module aims:

  1. To analyse the highly politicised food system throughout the world, and the UK’s role, that delivers underpriced food to the underpaid.
  2. To identify possible public or private funding that can help introduce innovative approaches that steward soil, water, biodiversity and emissions and enhance nutrition and human health.
  3. To examine regenerative food & farm practices from all over the world that have successfully regenerated local economies.
  4. To link regenerative approaches on the farm more directly with new marketing systems that establish local 'food' economies, which are more diverse, resilient and sustainable.
  5. To demonstrate how circular economies enhance ecosystems by minimising waste, promoting healthy diets and delivering better services to the local community.

This module examines the design and development of a food/farm-based enterprise. It will raise the profile of local foods and show how value can be added when regenerative production systems are adopted. It will show how the value of natural land based assets can be enhanced. The module will highlight opportunities to invest and diversify. It will examine different types of enterprises, the role of market research, and new ways of networking. It will explain why in the UK the adoption of regenerative farming is a farmer led activity. This module runs concurrent with module 3.

Module aims:

  1. To identify the economic and political feasibility of regenerative enterprises, and barriers to investment.
  2. To develop an understanding of the structure and content of ‘new’ enterprises, and their application to local and food production systems further afield.
  3. To use a whole systems approach to build linkages among social (community), ecological, and commercial domains.
  4. To examine various models of enterprises, including co-operatives, other marketing systems new networks, and how they can be researched.
  5. To find funding sources that can help invest in your enterprise.

This module encourages students to demonstrate their capacity for independent study by applying their knowledge of regenerative practices to a topic appropriate to the degree, such as  consultancy tools, nutrition measurement, local food policies, research topics and consumer choices. Students are expected to submit their plans, practices and policies into present political context, and a wider philosophy about how we treat our earth.

Module aims:

  1. To provide an opportunity for the student to pursue in depth a topic of their own choosing.
  2. To develop the skills and confidence necessary to carry out original research.
  3. To explore statistical design and analysis of experiments to enable assessment of results.
  4. To determine possible uptake of any positive results within the surrounding political economy of the food system
  5. To propose suggestions recognising philosophies that address the relation between humans and earth.