My book A Small Farm Future: Making the Case for a Society Built Around Local Economies, Self-Provisioning, Agricultural Diversity, and a Shared Earth was published by Chelsea Green Publishing in October 2020.
The book develops and distils many of the themes I’ve developed on this blog over the years. To quote from the back cover: “Drawing on a vast range of sources from across a multitude of disciplines, A Small Farm Future analyses the complex forces that make societal change inevitable; explains how low-carbon, locally self-reliant, agrarian communities can empower us to successfully confront these changes head on; and explores the pathways for delivering this vision politically”.
I’ll be keeping this page updated with relevant links, events, reviews and so forth relating to the book (see below for some advance endorsements, followed by links and reviews concerning the book). Drop me a line via the Contact Form if you’d like me to put you on the mailing list for updates on the book.
You can order A Small Farm Future from:
Feel free to post feedback or questions about the book below. Even better, feel free to post a review online. Whatever you think of my analyses or the answers I come up with in the book, I’m convinced that the issues it raises are vitally important for us to discuss open-mindedly and to act upon urgently. So I’ll be fascinated to see how the book fares when it goes out into the world, and delighted to discuss its implications.
Upcoming Events & Book Tie-Ins
11 Jan, noon GMT: Presentation at the Oxford Real Farming Conference with Guy Shrubsole & Elise Wach ‘Delivering a small farm future in Britain’
13 Jan: Guest Lecture, Surviving The Future Course
15 Jan: RIHN International Symposium presentation & roundtable ‘Food alternatives in the present’
27 Jan: Chelsea Green webinar with Vandana Shiva & Leah Penniman (details TBC)
31 Jan: NOFA-New Jersey Winter Conference presentation (details TBC)
Podcasts with Rob Hopkins & Ben Trollinger (Acres USA) – TBC.
Scroll down for previous events, podcasts & reviews.
Advance praise for A Small Farm Future:
‘Food is the core of culture, and modern industrial culture is rotting from the inside out due to its reliance on fossil-fueled agriculture. The only viable future is one based on small, ecologically regenerative, labor-intensive farming. Chris Smaje’s brilliant book presents the rationale, surveys methods and issues, and supplies an abundance of insight derived from the author’s twenty years of experience. Every young person should read this book.’—Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute
‘A Small Farm Future is a solid and truly inspiring book. I have dedicated the last 17 years of my life to creating a micro farm, and what I have learned fully confirms what Chris Smaje says: a small, ecologically inspired farm can produce high-quality, local food while also improving soil fertility, storing carbon, conserving water resources and improving biodiversity. Not to mention creating jobs and improving quality of life. A return to Mother Earth is the foundation on which we can build a new paradigm of sustainable and equitable abundance based on biological resources, renewable energies, eco-construction and solidarity – among individuals and cultures, and across generations. Getting out of a virtual and globalized economy to cultivate the land with love and respect is our only hope to pass on a viable planet to our children. This is also the secret to happiness!’—Charles Hervé-Gruyer, author of Miraculous Abundance; co-founder, Bec Hellouin Farm, France
‘We are facing an existential crisis – with species extinction, climate catastrophes, desertification of soil, disappearance of water, pandemics of infectious and chronic diseases, hunger and malnutrition. Industrialized, globalized agriculture based on the myth that it feeds the world is driving the multiple, interconnected crisis. Eighty percent of the food we eat comes from small farms. Chris Smaje’s A Small Farm Future shows that the choice is clear. Either we have a small farm future, or we face collapse and extinction.’—Vandana Shiva, author of Oneness vs 1% and Who Really Feeds the World
‘A Small Farm Future makes plain that the next 30 years will look very different to the last 30. Yet Smaje’s unique integration of big-picture insight and hard-won experience clears the fog, brilliantly revealing reliable and meaningful paths forward, even as the ground shifts beneath our feet.’—Shaun Chamberlin, author of The Transition Timeline; editor of Lean Logic and Surviving the Future
‘This book is such a treat. In an era of generalized crisis, Chris Smaje articulates an appealing, beautiful vision of the future. Chris has walked the talk, which makes his plea all the more powerful and convincing.’—Dr. Giorgos Kallis, ICREA research professor, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)
‘On one side we have science-based high tech with neoliberal economics, driven by the perceived need to control nature and to maximize material wealth; and on the other are traditional human skills and values. Whether it’s dressed in the trappings of communism or capitalism or autocracy or democracy, the former is undoubtedly winning. Governments and their chosen advisers the world over equate high tech and measurable economic “growth” with progress. ‘But the dominance of what now passes as modernity is killing us all. The methods it gives rise to and the mindset behind it are at the root of all the world’s crises. What we need now above all else is food production based on small farming – albeit assisted by excellent science and sometimes by high tech; feeding into localised economies; and deployed with true concern for the welfare of humanity and our fellow creatures. Chris Smaje, a sociologist-cum-anthropologist turned smallholder, is showing us exactly what is needed and why. A timely and valuable book – and a very readable read.’—Colin Tudge, co-founder, Oxford Real Farming Conference and the College for Real Farming and Food Culture; author of The Great Re-Think
‘Anyone involved in political thought, agriculture, justice, or futurism who is not familiar with Chris Smaje’s writing from his blog should do themselves the favor of picking up this book as soon as possible. Smaje’s writing is pretty much always worth engaging with – whether for the wry humor, the ways he challenges us to think harder and more boldly, his relentless humanism or his ability to marry nuance with accessibility. He is a visionary in the most interesting and exciting meaning of the word. His writing consistently shows him to be an intellectual tour guide par excellence: he may or may not see further than others, but he certainly never fails to help us see what is in front of us better.’—M. Jahi Chappell, executive director, Southeastern African-American Farmers’ Organic Network (SAAFON); author of Beginning to End Hunger
‘Chris Smaje brings intellectual rigour to the centuries-old demand for “three acres and a cow”.’—Simon Fairlie, author of Meat: A Benign Extravagance; editor, The Land magazine
‘Superb! This book shows with great clarity why we are heading for planetary disaster and suggests ways in which new kinds of more stable social and economic practices might evolve around support for sustainable agriculture. A timely and compelling vision of a New Agrarianism. Highly recommended.’—Paul Richards, author of Indigenous Agricultural Revolution and Ebola; emeritus professor of technology and agrarian development, Wageningen University
‘Time to tune in – these are powerful arguments for collective action in agriculture. We know that small farms offer solutions to the crises of our time. Stewardship, guardianship and rebuilding biodiversity is real, meaningful work. If each human engaged meaningfully, every day, in their own subsistence, imagine how much more accountable our society would become. This restoration of our food and ecosystems will take many hands, many years, and much patience and goodwill. This means that those of us already farming will need to become well versed in transmitting the why and the how to those who will join us. The coming radical shifts in ownership, tenure, settlement and structure present an incredible opportunity for sanity, subsistence and self-determination. Onward!’—Severine von Tscharner Fleming, director, Greenhorns; chair, Agrarian Trust
‘As a breakdown of the climate, state power and globalized markets pushes us toward an epochal transition, Chris Smaje offers us a hopeful vision of a relocalized, self-sufficient world. With fierce intelligence and rich evidence, he explains the vital role that small farms must play in this emerging future, artfully weaving together neglected strands of economic, ecological, cultural and political thought.’—David Bollier, director, Reinventing the Commons Program, Schumacher Center for a New Economics; coauthor (with Silke Helfrich) of Free, Fair and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons
Events and Reviews
- The launch webinar for the book featuring me in conversation with Jyoti Fernandes, Peter Macfadyen and Brianne Goodspeed is available here.
- My interview with Michael Olson on Food Chain Radio in the USA here.
- An interview with me on the ‘At a Distance’ podcast in the USA here.
- A podcast discussion about food futures with physicist Rob Davies, musician Rebecca McFaul and me here. Rob, Rebecca and others have produced a great film, ‘Rising Tide’, about climate futures here.
- A podcast discussion about the book with Edward Hardy here.
- A very short piece from me in The Ecological Citizen covering a few key themes from the book here.
- And another short piece in New Food Magazine here.
- A webinar with Jane Davidson (former Welsh environment minister), Sue Pritchard (CEO of the FFCC) and me available here.
- An interview with Geoff Tansey of Food Systems Academy here.
Plus various other presentations and interviews that haven’t made it online, or at least not yet … so I’ll pass over them for now.
Early reviews have been positive. Below I include the main ones I’ve come across so far, in no particular order, with the name of the reviewer and a link to the relevant website.
Mary Wildfire – Resilience.
Ruth Hancock – Land Workers’ Alliance.
Jeff Rowe – AP (syndicated).
Dave Darby – Low Impact.
Carwyn Graves – Food Manifesto Wales.
Tim Jarman – The Sound of Falling Leaves.
Pat Racher – Ecopolitics Today.
Martin Empson – Resolute Reader.
Annie B – Net Galley.
Michelle Galimba – Anima/Soul.
Vaughan Gunson – Northern Advocate.
Please tell me if you know of any other reviews I’ve missed. And please do consider posting your own online review!
Criticism so far has been muted, but has mostly revolved around the political possibilities for creating and maintaining agrarian localism. I’m planning to engage with that particular issue in a new essay soon, once a few more reviews have filtered through.
I’m also mentioned in dispatches in this interesting podcast with Rupert Read, and have made it onto various ‘books of 2020’ reading lists, so all in all a pretty good start for the book!
I’ll be writing a series of blog posts here on this website over the next few months commenting and expanding on various aspects of the book, so do feel free to join and debate with me there.