Private: College for Real Farming and Food Culture

Farming with nature

The trajectory of so-called ‘conventional’ agriculture is pushing us away from a viable and ecologically coherent system of food production. Big agribusiness and its ecological preferences for monocultural monotony are driving today’s extinction crisis. We need a new agriculture that recombines us with nature.

Agroecology reunites food production with nature, biodiversity, ecology and human communities by combining good science with cultural knowledge and natural systems. Farms are not islands; they should be treated as ecosystems and their methods contextualised within their broader communities and landscapes.

Agroecology goes beyond merely tinkering with fractured ecology through piecemeal or ad hoc regenerative approaches. It is the recombination of food production with ecology. It offers a renewed and convivial interrelationship with biodiversity. Agroecology represents meaningful ‘rewilding’ from the soil upwards – a new land ethic to inform our exit from today’s climate and nature crises.

Crucially, agroecology is not just a technical approach towards food production. It embodies a social movement that aims to push back against big agribusiness and the powerful corporations that dominate our food chain. It is an approach that requires both solidarity and humility – defending and learning from small farmers and the global peasantry – as well as rigorous and democratised agrarian science.

The pressure to financialise nature

In April 2022 the College hosted a dialogue on nature financialisation with attendees from ETC Group, Schumacher College, Royal Agricultural University, Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, Transnational Institute, The Ecologist, University of Warwick, University of Winchester, Wicked Leeks and Schumacher Institute.

Read the Real Farming Trust’s latest article on the pitfalls of putting a price tag on nature.

Related resources

Sullivan, S and Hannis, M (2012) Offsetting nature? Habitat banking and biodiversity offsets in the English land use planning system

Failing Forward: The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Conservation by Robert Fletcher

The Value of a Whale: On the Illusions of Green Capitalism by Adrienne Buller

Transnational Institute
Seeds of Discontent – a short documentary about how Dutch and Swedish investments resulted in land grabbing and human rights abuses in one Mozambique community

Friends of the Earth International
Double Jeopardy: The rising threat to food sovereignty and agroecology from false climate solutions by Jutta Kill

Oxford Real Farming Conference
The Financialisation of Climate Change and Biodiversity: False Promises, Fake Solutions

From land grab to soil grab – the new business of carbon farming

World Rainforest Movement
15 Years of REDD: A mechanism rotten at the core
NO to nature-based solutions – a statement signed by 364 organisations

ETC Group a resource for local and international movements working together to evaluate and assess new technologies

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Top: Agroforestry in action – cows browsing trees. Thanks to Nikki Yoxall at Grampian Graziers