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Six steps back to the land

I am a great fan of Colin Tudge, not least because he is an original thinker, as amply demonstrated in his latest book, Six Steps Back to the Land. I also have direct experience in relation to his theme, since I literally got ‘back to the land’ in the 1970s. So when the editor of Resurgence & Ecologist asked me to review the book, I decided to compare my experience with Colin’s recommendations.

Before giving some hard advice for would-be sustainable food producers, Colin sets the stage for an agrarian renaissance, setting out the case and the need for fundamental changes to our food and farming systems. I am certain that he is right about the urgent need for a complete transformation of our approach to producing food. I am also of the opinion that the external conditions are better aligned for this change than at any point in my 30 years of engagement with matters of food and farming, largely because of the growth of interest amongst so-called millennials.

Colin then takes us on a journey of the issues facing our food system – why we need change, and how we can achieve it. Beginning with The road to enlightened agriculture, he looks at the challenges, including the need for “an economy fit for farming”, ideally a circular economy. He explains the principles of agro-ecology, with an emphasis on small-scale mixed farms. Finally, he explores the ways in which people can get back to the land, all illustrated with excellent case studies.

Our current neoliberal capitalist economic system is far from perfect for sustainable food production, with the economic climate favouring intensive methods and making the back-to-the-land journey unprofitable. Colin is an advocate of reform to put things right, and so am I.

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