The ideas here are summarized in an interview with Colin Tudge and Geoff Tansey of the Food Systems Academy, at: 

“Enlightened Agriculture”, sometimes shortened to “Real Farming”, is the key idea behind this website and indeed of the whole College. It is defined informally but adequately as:

Farming that is expressly designed to supply everyone, everywhere, with food of the highest standards, both nutritionally and gastronomically, without injustice or cruelty and without wrecking the rest of the world.”

All this might seem an idle dream but such an ideal is eminently achievable. Everybody could be well fed, and we could keep the biosphere in good heart, and our spectacular failure to do either is a disgrace. Though we will always have to cope with natural disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes), the present plight of the modern world – including the destabilized climate – is caused almost entirely by bad strategy: ill-defined goals; misapplied technology; all nowadays driven by the over-simplifications of the neoliberal economy and overseen by governments who have forgotten, whatever their rhetoric, that the job of government is to serve.

In practice, Enlightened Agriculture has three component ideas:

Agroecology. This implies that each individual farm should be treated as an ecosystem (as opposed to an al fresco factory) and that agriculture as a whole should strive as far as possible to make a positive contribution to the biosphere. What all this entails is the focus of Part II.

Food Sovereignty. A key concept framed by the peasant organization La Via Campesina in the 1990s. The idea is that all societies, and all individuals too, ideally, should have control over their own food supply. This is to be discussed in Section IV.1.

Economic Democracy. This may be seen as a form of social democracy: a way of using (fairly) conventional financial mechanisms to benefit society, humanity, and the biosphere as a whole. This is to be discussed in Section IV.2.

The grand expression “Enlightened Agriculture” was coined by Colin Tudge in 2004 (and “Real Farming” followed in 2008) but credit for the component ideas belongs elsewhere. The implications of these ideas occupy the rest of Part II.

First, though, just to put everything in context, we should quickly take a look at farming in all its many forms – as outlined in Section II.2 (“The many faces of farming”).