Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Food, Farms and Metaphysics: The Great Re-think

Food, Farms and Metaphysics: The Great Re-think

Small Farm
Key Info: 
  • A joint meeting of Schumacher College with the College for Real Farming and Food Culture

With Colin Tudge, Justine Huxley, Jyoti Fernandes and Ruth West

£ 650.00
Course fees include all meals, field trips, materials and teaching sessions.
The programme will run from Monday to Friday afternoon and includes four nights private accommodation and all vegetarian meals from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure. We recommend attending this course as a fully residential participant however for you may choose to book as a non-residential participant. Please call 01803 847237 for more details.

We could easily ensure that everyone born on Earth has access to food of the highest standard – nutritionally and gastronomically; that everyone has somewhere comfortable to live; and everyone has a chance to achieve personal fulfilment.

We could do all this and still ensure that our fellow creatures flourish alongside us. In short, we could be looking forward to the next million years with real hope. So why does it seem disaster looms on so many fronts – ecological, political, economic, and social.  What can we do about it?

We need to dig very deep. We need to re-think, from first principles, all the big ideas that we take for granted and dominate our lives.

We will be rethinking everything from the practicalities of cooking and farming, to the buildings in which we live, medicine, education, the mechanisms and ideologies of politics and economies and even the underlying notions of science and moral philosophy, (all informed by the arts), and on into the murky notions of metaphysics underpinning our values.

“We”, in this context, means all of us. Our leaders – the oligarchy of big governments, corporates, financiers and their expert advisers.  Why do they all seem intent on maintaining the status quo?

We must get down to the roots of things; change what we do, the way we organize our affairs; and perhaps even change our worldview. Nothing less than transformation is required, a metamorphosis, or indeed a virtual re-birth – a 21st Century Renaissance even more profound than the European Renaissance that brought the Middle Ages to a close. 

The Renaissance that’s needed now must be driven by us: people at large.

It’s a tall order but it surely can be done. All the necessary ideas are out there and many millions of people worldwide in many thousands of organizations are already doing the kinds of things that need doing. The task now is to develop and disseminate the ideas and to coordinate thought and action.

Come and discuss what really needs to be done to put the world to rights, and find out who is doing what, in a five-day course at Schumacher College in collaboration with the College for Real Farming and Food Culture. The course includes a day at Five Penny Farm in Dorset, where Jyoti Fernandes is showing what wonders can be achieved on a smallholding of a mere 20 acres – and is in touch with small farmers everywhere over via the world’s peasant movement, La Via Campesina.  

The sessions will include:

The Great Re-think

Why everything needs to be re-thought – and why everything needs to be re-thought in the light of everything else to give a truly holistic overview.

The Perennial Wisdom in Everyday Life: science, morality, politics, economics – and metaphysics

Perennial Wisdom distills all the best ideas from all cultures from all times. All the biggest ideas are rooted in metaphysics which asks “the ultimate questions” – but metaphysics has been sorely neglected and needs to be restored.

The Future and the Importance of Religion

Metaphysics can be found at the heart of all the world’s bona fide religions. The task is to identify the common ground between them all and build upon it.

The thing we absolutely have to get right: farming fit for the next million years

The answer lies in “Enlightened Agriculture” rooted in the principles of food sovereignty. We need individual farms conceived as ecosystems, an agriculture needs to be seen as a positive contriubutor to the global biosphere.   Only this can truly give societies control over their own food supply and agroecology.

We can see an example of this with a visit to Five Penny Farm, a truly agroecological smallholding.

True Food Culture: “The Future belongs to the Gourmet”

Enlightened agriculture cannot succeed unless people at large support the farmers who are trying to achieve it. We need to develop a true Food Culture -- to cast off standard beliefs and prejudices and acknowledge that compassionate, eco-friendly farming, sound nutrition and great cooking go hand in hand. We don’t need to be vegans on nor do we have to surrender to genetic modification, factory farming or synthesised animal flesh.  We just need to re-learn how to cook.

 A People’s Takeover 

Around the world we find that billions of people want their lives to be different – more convivial, more secure. Many millions are already actively helping us move in the right direction; and many thousands of organizations are making a difference.

In short, there are easily enough people with enough ideas and goodwill to form a critical mass that could change the whole world around. The task now is to frame a coherent philosophy and to coordinate what’s already out there. 

*The Booking Deadline gives us an accurate idea of course participant numbers at approximately 6 weeks before the course is due to run, at which point we confirm the course, add additional time for people to book on or cancel the course. We encourage people to register early for courses as places are limited.


With Colin Tudge, Justine Huxley, Jyoti Fernandes and Ruth West
Colin Tudge

Colin Tudge

Colin Tudge studied zoology at Cambridge and then became a science writer – with World Medicine, New Scientist, Farmers Weekly, and BBC Radio 3; and for the past 25 years or so has been freelance. Mainly, though, he writes books – on many aspects of biology, food, and agriculture, and, lately, on metaphysics. Among the most recent are Why Genes are Not Selfish and People are Nice; Six Steps Back to the Land; and The Secret Life of Trees. In 2008 he and his wife, Ruth West, began The Campaign for Real Farming. Out of the Campaign came the Oxford Real Farming Conference; Funding Enlightened Agriculture; and the College for Real Farming and Food Culture. All are conceived as projects of the Real Farming Trust

Justine Huxley

Justine Huxley

Justine Huxley (Ph.D) is the Director of St. Etheburga’s Centre for Reconcilliation and Peace (link is external), leading on overall strategy, vision and management. She has a Ph.D in Psychology, with a background in business communications and 5 years of experience on the trading floor of a City investment bank. She is passionate about bringing people together from different backgrounds and co-creating innovative projects that speak to the needs of the time. Justine sees peace as a dynamic state where people collaborate across divisions in service to the whole. Justine offers workshops, lectures and keynote speeches on: Peace-making and conflict transformation; faith and resilience; interdependence as an emerging worldview; the refugee crisis; inter-faith relations; young people, faith and the future; new approaches to interfaith leadership; environmental peace-building; spiritual ecology; conflict coaching; dialogue facilitation; the role of narrative and story in community reconciliation.

Jyoti Fernandes

Jyoti Fernandes

Jyoti Fernandes is a Dorset smallholder with vegetables, Jersey cows, goats, pigs and sheep which also provide excellent fleeces and knitting wool; and produces apple juice, cider, and cheese. She is also the Campaigns Coordinator of the Landworkers’ Alliance, the British arm of the worldwide peasants’ organization, Via Campesina.

Ruth West

Ruth West

Ruth West has a lifetime’s experience with NGOs at home and abroad with a special interest in indigenous cultures and traditional medicine. Since the outset in 2010 she has been the principal organizer of the Oxford Real Farming Conference and is coordinator of the Real Farming Trust, with a special interest in helping to fund new projects. She also helped to set up and to run the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology which aims to introduce agroecological thinking into mainstream British politics.

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Residential accommodation for "Changing the Frame"  is at Higher Close, a 20 minute walk from Schumacher College. All meals will be provided at the college.

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