Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Food, Farming, and a 21st Century Renaissance

Food, Farming, and a 21st Century Renaissance

Course dates: 
Monday, 16 October, 2017 to Friday, 20 October, 2017
Food and Farming Short Course at Schumacher College

With Colin Tudge, Ruth West, Stephan Harding and Tim Crabtree, guests Geetie Singh and Ed Hamer

We could be looking forward with real optimism to the next million years. But to achieve a world that is truly good to live in, for us and our fellow creatures, we need to rethink everything - beginning with food and farming.

Nothing is more important than agriculture!

The good news is that we already know enough to feed ourselves well. The bad news is that the governments, corporates, and intellectuals to whom we have entrusted our affairs, seem to have misconstrued the nature of the task and are pursuing strategies that could be the precise opposite of what’s required.

What we need is an Agrarian Renaissance - a democratic renaissance in which all humanity plays a part. We need 'a people's takeover of the world's farming', based on agroecology, food sovereignty and economic democracy. This may sound too daunting for words, but enough is going on around the world over to suggest it is already happening. The task is now to identify the ideas and initiatives that are truly helpful and build upon them.

All the necessary techniques are out there, and although much more research is needed, urgently, we already seem to have enough know-how to turn things round even at this late hour – not GM and neonicotinoids but with agroecology, rooted not in high tech but in truly modern biology.

The even better news is that a great many people worldwide are already showing what can be done – even in the present economy. We will look at one very instructive example near to Schumacher College: Whippletree Farm, a smallholding with vegetables, fruit, and livestock run by young, first-time farmers Lucy and Sam Henderson.

Join Colin Tudge and Ruth West of the College for Real Farming and Food Culture along with Stephan Harding and Tim Crabtree of Schumacher College, as they explore the ideas of science, morality, metaphysics, and economics and the positive impact they can have on our future. Ed Hamer of the Landworkers’ Alliance will be outlining their vision for a truly resilient UK agriculture policy and the support that is needed to get us there.

Come and discuss what’s needed, talk to people who are already on the case, let us know what you’re doing and learn how you can get involved.

Some of the areas we will be covering are:


This course is for anyone who is concerned about the future of our food systems and how we can make change rapidly, through the food we eat and the way we produce it, buy it, cook it and think about it. It will be a mix of talks, discussion and field trips. No experience necessary.


Colin Tudge

Colin is a biologist by education and a writer. He was born in London in 1943; educated at Dulwich College, 1954-61; and read zoology at Peterhouse, Cambridge, 1962-65. Colin has written a great many articles for a great many publications and for a time was on the staff of Farmers’ Weekly, then New Scientist, then BBC Radio 3. But mainly he writes books – on natural history, evolution, food and farming, and, lately, on the philosophy of science and metaphysics. He also enjoys public speaking. In the early 2000s Colin coined the expression "Enlightened Agriculture"; in 2008 Colin and his second wife Ruth established the Campaign for Real Farming and in 2010, together with Graham Harvey, they launched the Oxford Real Farming Conference as the antidote to the established Oxford Farming Conference.

Ruth West

Ruth has followed a varied career from community worker in London’s east end in the early ’70s to coordinator of a farmers’ market in the last few years.  In between she has worked as a researcher and campaigner in the areas of health, the environment and human rights with spells as consultant for the WHO, UNEP and the Commonwealth Secretariat; run a research foundation exploring subjects that don’t fit the current scientific paradigm —  which at the time included climate change, as well as dowsing and healing; and got involved in setting up a social enterprise with a group of indigenous women in the Peruvian Andes.

Stephan Harding

Stephan Harding is Programme Coordinator of the MSc in Holistic Science and resident Ecologist at Schumacher College teaching on the MSc core modules and on most short courses at the College. He holds a doctorate in behavioural ecology from Oxford University, and before coming to the college taught ecology at the National University in Costa Rica. He is a close associate of James Lovelock and an expert in the study of Gaia theory and deep ecology. He is the author of Animate Earth and Grow Small, Think Beautiful: Ideas for a Sustainable World from Schumacher College.


Tim Crabtree

Tim Crabtree has been involved in “new economics” for 30 years, after studying economics at Oxford University and then working for the New Economics Foundation for 5 years. He has experience in policy development, local economic development and business advice, and was the co-founder of a number of a successful social enterprises including the Wessex Reinvestment Trust group and Dorset-based Local Food Links Ltd – where he was responsible for developing farmers’ markets, food festivals, community gardening projects, a specialist workspace (the Centre for Local Food), a vocational training programme for young people and a school meals catering service, employing 25 people, which now supplies 33 schools with a turnover in excess of £1 million p.a.

After stepping down as chief executive of Local Food Links, Tim then worked for Cardiff University, researching the future direction of the community food sector. He continues to work with one of the Wessex Reinvestment Trust social enterprises - Wessex Community Assets - which co-ordinates the UK's largest programme of community land trust housing, as well as supporting community share issues in areas such as renewable energy and local food.


Ed Hamer is a farmer and policy officer for the Landworkers’ Alliance. In 2010 he founded Chagfood community market garden, a CSA now supplying weekly veg shares to 100 households across north east Dartmoor. In 2012 he co-founded the Landworkers' Alliance and recently co-authored the LWA's post-Brexit manifesto.



Geetie Singh grew up on a commune in the Midlands, where she was taught from an early age to be aware of the impact we each make on the world around us. She moved to London in the early 1990s and started working in restaurants, but became deeply disillusioned with the lack of sustainability. She quickly decided there was a market for a restaurant that cared about its impact on the environment as well as serving fantastic food and drink. It took a few years to make a plan, find the money and the right venue, but in 1998 she opened The Duke of Cambridge – the UK’s first organic gastropub. 15 years in, The Duke has been an outstanding success, having won and been nominated for many awards (link to Press & Awards). Geetie herself has won a few awards too along the way, including an MBE in 2009, for “Services to the Organic Pub Trade”. She is an active campaigner and firmly believes businesses must act responsibly and be led by their values. On this, Geetie has said: “Am I an environmentalist or a restaurateur? Well I don’t think you can do what I do without being bloody good at your job, but I would say both are equally important to me. Food is my love – but food at any cost? Not on your life!

£ 795.00
Course fees include basic accommodation, all meals, field trips, materials and all 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 ask you to arrive between 11:30 - 1 on the first day of your course so that the group can begin the experience by dining together. 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.