Want sustainable food? It will take a new normal for farming



Shared by our hard working Crossfields International Associates, Touchstone Collaborations, who are returning from their research residency in South Africa. “This piece is published in collaboration with the academic journal Elementa. It is based on “Toward thick legitimacy: Creating a web of legitimacy for agroecology,” a peer-reviewed article published July 20 as part of Elementa’s New Pathways to Sustainability in Agroecological Systems forum.”

Top Universities to offer full degrees online in 5 years

The BBC is reporting that top universities will be offering online undergraduate degrees within the next 5 years, something they have been reluctant to do until now. The rising costs of university education will make this an attractive offer to many young people particularly.  We believe that online Higher Education, or blended learning with a mix of online and face to face can work very well, as long as students are well supported, have ready access to tutors and an engaged peer group. An example of this is our HE programme: Researching Holistic Approaches to Agroecology which invites students from all over the world, is mainly online with an annual meeting and is for anyone interested in taking a research approach to the environment and agriculture.

Here is the BBC article:


Agriculture in the UK post Brexit

Text: The dust has certainly been stirred up in the UK agriculture sector following the Brexit result of last Thursday. In my last blog post the big issue was the fate of Roundup and glyphosates in the EU – the renewal of the licence for these being delayed and a decision will rest on further study of potential negative effects of glyphosate in the food chain. A significant role, from an agroecological perspective, that has been played by the EU is the regulation of GMO’s and many member states have opted out of growing GMO’s. It remains to be seen what emerges in a Brexit UK. The NFU states on their website that farmers in the UK have been frustrated by an “excessive use of the precautionary principle” (see www.nfuonline.com – article of 24.06.2016). Now that the vote has been cast what does this mean for consumers, who will want to be sure that developments in agriculture continue to be carefully scrutinized?

Serious concern about UK soils!

On Sunday June 12th the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology (APPG Agroecology) published a report on their website (https://agroecology-appg.org/) highlighting the fact that “the national picture on soil health is deplorably lacking, and there are currently no assessment plans, despite the Government commitment to ensure that all soils are managed sustainably by 2030”. Go to the APPG Agroecology website to see the full reports. The importance of fostering good soil health is clearly an area in which much more research and education needs to be undertaken. Holistic approaches to agroecology (such as permaculture, biodynamics, organics) have long acknowledged that healthy soil is the basis to sound agroecological practices, and the basis for healthy food. Crossfields International is keen to support research and education in how to develop and maintain soil health, which we are doing through supporting a number of international postgraduate students in their agroecological studies.

Researching permaculture

Permaculture is great at spreading via grassroots sharing. It is an inspiration for 21st century communication. Innovations like https://permaculture-research.blogspot [website no longer exists] help in mobilising practitioners to build up evidence. It would be great to see permaculture breaking through more often into academic journals and influencing government policy. The MSc Researching Holistic Approaches to Agroecology from Crossfields Institute (pending final approval with the University of Coventry) has been designed to support holistic approaches to food production. Those interested in permaculture, organics, and biodynamics can explore the holistic thinking that underpins what they do and shape research projects that are academically rigorous but true to their roots. For more information see www.crossfieldsinstitute.com

Hawthorne Valley Farm – New York State – September 19th to 21st

Charlotte von Bulow, Judy Foster and Jonathan Code are visiting Hawthorne Valley Farm from September 19th to September 21st to promote the MSc Researching Holistic Approaches to Agroecology and to discuss development projects.

They will also be running a workshop entitled Intention and Attention in Symposionic Conversation in collaboration  with Marc Clifton. https://hawthornevalleyassociation.org/event/intention-attention-sympsionic-conversation/ [page no longer exists]

Hawthorne Valley Farm has been producing high quality food for more than 35 years. Through biodynamic farming practices they reflect a  commitment to protecting the health of the earth and all who live on it. The education and outreach programs provided by the farm strive to raise awareness of the social, ecological, and economic importance of agriculture in everyday life