The College is intended to abet the Agrarian Renaissance: to help create a new kind of farming (albeit one that draws heavily on traditional practice) and a new food culture (likewise); a re-conception; a rebirth. But how can this be brought about? How, when the world is ruled by an oligarchy that seems to dig itself in ever more firmly, and now includes governments and large sections of academe?
With mavericks, is the answer. Brave individuals and groups of friends who decide to take matters into their own hands and do things differently, despite the status quo. The hope is then that others will see what’s going on and say, “I’d like some of that too!” Soon there are several, and then lots. Soon different individuals doing much the same or complementary things join forces in one way or another (alliances on the whole work better than mergers) and soon the erstwhile mavericks have formed a movement.
At first, insofar as the movement interacts commercially with the world at large, it forms a “niche market”. Some members alas are content to remain in their niche and to leave the bulk of farming to the corporates and the neoliberal market, but if the maverick groups keep going, and start to attract outside investment and to recruit their own workforce, then what has been a niche can become the norm. This is the goal: to establish Enlightened Agriculture as the global norm.
In truth, the Renaissance has begun. Traditional practices of farming and cooking are being swept aside as soon as corporate zeal can get to them but they are still out there, and more and more agriculturalists worldwide, including some in high places, have realized their merits and are anxious to preserve and build upon them. There is a whole generation of gardeners, smallholders, and small farmers who farm in accord with Enlightened Agriculture even if they don’t actually use that expression. Thanks largely to the internet, there is more and more communication between the various individuals, and bona fide movements of a beneficial kind are emerging all over the world. In short, the Agrarian Renaissance is still a long shot but it is happening; and if we don’t give up hope it could indeed come about. It may be a long shot but it’s our best hope.
The point of Part VII is to identify and describe and to some extent to analyse the various individual initiatives and movements worldwide that are moving in the right directions. The Renaissance can happen if we support and build on them.