This site is maintained by Chris Smaje of Vallis Veg, a small farm in the southwest of England. It aims to explore in an engaged but open-minded way the case for small-scale farming, both in the richer and the poorer parts of the world.

The end of the small farm, the family farm, the smallholding, the peasantry – all slightly different, but call it what you will – has long been predicted, though never fully realised. Still, there seems to be a clamour of voices urging its demise – from development specialists to ¬†anthropologists, economists to politicians, Marxists to neoliberals, environmentalists to agronomists, architects to urban planners. Usually, the best interests of small farmers themselves, or of society more generally, are given as the reason for wishing them into history.¬†It’s worth taking these views seriously, but there’s another side to the story which is less widely heard. I hope visitors to this site will find in it an interesting collection of discussions, links, research and resources that make the case for the continued relevance of small-scale farming around the world to the present, and the future.

Chris is a social scientist by training, with degrees in anthropology, health planning and sociology. He is an occasional writer and researcher on farming and environmental issues, but is now a full-time grower/farmer at Vallis Veg where he has discovered that it’s a lot harder to do farming than to write about it, but probably more important and more rewarding (at least in a non-economic sense…).

8 thoughts on “About

  1. Chris, Nice job on the summary. ILEIA has done a nice job in its re-organization aruond family farming a nice platform of social change in rural areas. We should continue to explore ways of supporting their important work.

  2. Hi Arpita

    Yes I’m on Twitter as @csmaje and usually send a tweet when I post something new on the blog. You can also subscribe to this blog as an RSS feed via the orange button on the top right of the homepage. Thanks for your interest.

  3. Yes, I’d like to follow this blog too and the orange button directs me to something else– just so you know. WordPress can be so tricky sometimes.

    • Thanks for your message Annie. I checked the orange button & it seems like it should work – right click on it, save the link address and then copy it into your feed reader. I’m loath to mess around with it because the last time I did I had a major meltdown of the whole site!

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  5. Dear Chris,

    I have been thinking for a long time about starting my own small farm and am trying to do a business plan. My main problem is knowing the figures for electricity, water etc. I realise this is dependent on size, area and products however do you think you could point me in the right direction? My main goals would be to achieve growing a variety of foods that would be used for the family and visitors (residential rehab for 5 nights per week for vulnerable teens – 10 to 12 at a time), a few dairy cows, some goats (make cheese), sheep and of course chickens.
    Could you offer any advice please?

    Thank you,


    • Thanks for commenting, Paula. Very hard to answer your question. Depends on where you live, what you’re growing etc etc. Water wise, I’d say that vegetables require quite a lot (irrigation is necessary even here in wet SW England with a precipitation of >1000mm pa), staple crops not so much. I’ve kept sheep, pigs and poultry on a small scale and found their water demands quite modest. Presumably a dairy cow would be a different proposition, but I’ve never kept one. Electricity wise, we have a 3000W off-grid system based mainly on PV panels which works pretty well for basic home & business needs, though it’s a bit touch and go in the winter. However, that’s assuming that you find other ways of getting energy-intensive jobs done – no kettles, irons, electric heaters, stoves, welding etc!

      Not sure how much that helps…

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