A Small Farm Future: Review

October 5, 2020

Ed. note: Chris Smaje’s book will be released on 21 October in the US. It is published by Chelsea Green. You can find out more about the book and pre-order it here.

In October, LWA member Chris Smaje releases his book, A Small Farm Future, in which he argues that organising society around small-scale farming offers the soundest, sanest and most reasonable response to climate change and other crises of civilisation. In this post, fellow farmer and coordinating group member Ruth Hancock gives her thoughts and reflections on the book.

With great thoroughness, balance, and painstaking research Chris Smaje makes a compelling case for a return to, or revival of, the smaller, more diverse, farm culture, in order that we might feed ourselves well into the future as a nation, and even as a planet.

However, this is no easy solutions, ‘rural utopian’ polemic.

Being practically involved in the everyday grassroots activism that is running a commercially viable agroecological farm, Chris knows full well, and acknowledges the harsh realities, the complexities, and the many barriers that currently forestall this more resilient, socially just, and ecologically compatible way of doing agriculture from becoming a reality under our current economic systems.

Chris’ background in the academic world and his involvement in setting up and running a productive small farm allows him to present an incisive, and realistic analysis of where we are now – where we should be going – and how we might navigate that transition.

In order that the whole of our society be well fed, nourished even, with good food produced in such a way that we can leave our planet in a better shape, and our rural economies can thrive, something needs to change.

A Small Farm Future explores the inherent tensions – sociological, political, and practical, in bringing about this agroecological revolution – something that many of us have been struggling towards with varying degrees of success over many years.

The fact that there are no simple answers to this complex problem is never shied away from. The adjustments we will need to make to create this resilient, locally diverse, and sustainable agricultural scene will take concerted and intelligent effort, and perhaps no little courage.

Thankfully Chris’ book gives us many useful signposts towards these better outcomes – whilst pointing out the pitfalls of any simplistic ‘one size fits all’ scenarios. To this end A Small Farm Future stands to become a vital resource for policy makers, activists, and change-makers in future food and economies.

I’d thoroughly recommend this book – as a mightily good read in itself for anyone interested in how we might bring about a better and brighter food farming and land use systems –  and surely that should be all of us –  in addition to its being a comprehensive ‘must have’ sourcebook of carefully gathered and presented facts and ideas for those of us politically active in food and farming.

Ruth Hancock

Ruth Hancock is a small farmer and a coordinating group member of the Landworkers Alliance in the UK.

Tags: Building resilient food and farming systems, small farm future, small scale farming