The Future of Food and Farming

Friday, 30th September, 2016 19:00
Sunday, 2nd October, 2016 14:00

How to pay: We will write to arrange payment with you once we have confirmed your place on this course. Please let us know your preferred method of payment by ticking one of the choices below.
Course fees are kept to an absolute minimum – please, if you would like, add a donation towards our scholarship fund, which supports students and visitors on low income.

Food for thought and farming for ideas

Please join us for a weekend of conversation examining how the future of food and farming can be shaped to lead to a happier future for everyone on the planet.

This will be the latest in a series of weekend conversations in which the range of issues surrounding the future of food and farming is being explored in an informal and convivial way. This weekend will benefit from the presence of Colin Tudge and so will offer a chance to explore and probe his ideas. Stay for the whole weekend, or join any of the individual sessions.

CT150.jpg Colin Tudge is a biologist by education and a writer by trade. In the early 2000s he coined the expression "Enlightened Agriculture". In 2008 he and his 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. Colin's latest book, Six Steps Back to the Land, is published by Green Books, January 2016. His earlier books include: Why Genes are Not Selfish and People are Nice, Good Food for Everyone Forever, The Secret Life of Trees and The Secret Life of Birds

Who is it for?
The weekend should be of interest to anyone concerned about the way agriculture and food consumption is organised today. This can include those actively working in these areas, such as farmers, butchers or chefs, as well as those who engage in campaigning for changes.

What will be discussed?
Conversation is expected to range from the most fundamental theoretical matters to more down-to-earth issues, such as ‘Should we be vegetarian?’. We also hope to learn more about Colin’s proposal to establish a College for Real Farming and Food Culture (CRFFC).

Fundamental questioning
Colin has argued that any society’s approach to food and farming ultimately rests on its weltanschaung, the way that society sees the world. The core beliefs and values that underpin how a society understands and deals with nature explain how land will be farmed and food prepared by that society, he says. If there are fundamental problems with food and farming they cannot be solved by simply addressing immediate concerns (eg reduce water use by designing more efficient irrigation; less reliance on chemical fertilisers) or only questioning current economic systems. Rather it will be necessary to address the metaphysical beliefs which underly how agriculture is practised and how food is processed, distributed and prepared. Colin argues that there is a ‘perennial wisdom’ which should be the foundation for how we think about food and farming. Is he right?

What will be achieved?
By the end of the weekend we hope that proposals leading to real action will be taking shape. These could include concrete ideas for establishing CRFFC; ways of encouraging a proper metaphysics; and outlining what the important themes for future conversations should be. The intention is to host further conversations at which representatives from all sectors of the food chain will be invited, as well as those who finance it or who oversee it. A more formal conference on this vital topic is also proposed.

Off the record
A brief summary of the discussions will be published on relevant websites but this summary will include no attributable opinions or quotes unless explicitly agreed. No press will be present. The aim is to allow free thinking and free expression.

The host institution
Chisholme is a particularly fine location for such conversations. For many years Chisholme has provided a living and dynamic context for spiritual enquiry and the education it offers deals with the essential matters Colin alludes to. Furthermore Chisholme is renowned for the attention given to the cultivation and preparation of food and so fine meals will be served throughout the weekend. Chisholme House, the Georgian building where the conversations will take place, is set in a beautiful estate offering many opportunities for walks to refresh the mind between sessions.

Outline programme
The weekend will begin at 7pm on the Friday evening and continue until after lunch on Sunday. Suggested themes for the various sessions are outlined below. However, the informal and intimate form of the weekend means that the participants themselves will guide the discussions.

Friday 30 September

7pm. Supper followed by introductory Session 1
What is there to talk about?

Saturday 1 October

9am. Session 2, What’s wrong?
11am. Session 3, Getting to the bottom things: questioning the metaphysics
1pm. Lunch
2pm. Tour of Chisholme garden and estate
4pm. Session 4, The issues which have emerged so far
7pm. Supper followed by a film (to be announced).

Sunday 2 October

9am. Session 5, Establishing CRFFC
11am. Session 6, It’s good to talk so what’s left to talk about and who should be talking?
1pm. Lunch and then either depart or stay for further informal discussion.

Chris and Denise Walton from Peelham Farm who will be joining us, have kindly invited participants to visit their organic farm on the Monday.


Food and accommodation
Participants will stay either in the main house or in the nearby steading. Single accommodation will be offered to those who wish it subject to availability. Chef-prepared meals are served at lunchtime and in the evening. Home baking is served at breakfast and at coffee and tea times.

The Chisholme kitchen provides food in keeping with the spiritual and material aims of its education. Chisholme is not vegetarian but meat is prepared with the deepest respect for its benefit and origin. Meanwhile vegetarian dishes comprise the majority of the food served and are always available as an option. Special diets can be catered for where there is a medical reason.

Weekend Residential: £110 with single room accommodation and all meals. A non-refundable deposit of £30 should be paid when booking. The balance of £80 can be paid once at Chisholme. Shared accommodation is at the reduced cost of £95.
Non-residential – suggested donations: Friday evening (including supper) £15; Saturday (inc. lunch, morning coffee & afternoon tea) £30; Sunday (inc. lunch & morning coffee) £20

Book online for the whole weekend at the top of the page.
To book for individual sessions and meals, please email
Enquiries: Tel +44 (0)1450 880 215



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