by Laurence Woodward
Patrick Noble is a formidable thinker and writer. He is clear-sighted and honest. He has vision and perspective, which may not be to everyone’s taste but it is rooted in the experience of decades of living and working on the land, in a harmonious relationship with nature, within an area and its culture and therefore, it’s a vision which cannot be ignored.
On the contrary, it demands attention because Patrick has worked hard at thinking through and testing these experiences and honing them into a body of work which is in part philosophical, in part a penetrating analysis, in part a political manifesto; and as a whole, a celebration of the rural, the artisanal, the natural, the independent but communal ecosystem he believes the human spirit thrives in.
His writing is built around working “towards a Convivial Economy”. This economy and society defy labelling. If you want to find socialism there, you can; if you want to find Adam Smith’s idea of “sweet commerce”, it’s there; so are elements of “the Green New Deal” and Wendall Berry’s “agrarian values”, but none of them in a manner which conforms to tick boxes. The shape, the form and the relationship of them to each other and the whole, are moulded in a way which is uniquely Noble.
Many of Berry’s themes are shared by Patrick but how they are worked, drawn out and built on are very different. Patrick is a working farmer who thinks and writes, not a professional writer who has a farm. But the really important point, and difference, is that Patrick’s thinking and writing and, from the beginning his farming, is driven by the urgent need to find real practical solutions to the social, economic, political and humanitarian crises caused by living on a planet of finite and diminishing resources, where the resources are running out, the planet is burning and where its inhabitants seem pathologically incapable of change.
This book is about change. It’s about how change has to happen and how farming, food, health, local economies and culture have to be at the centre of that change. It is challenging – and not just to the mainstream – it challenges the shallow thinking, the clichés, the hidden agendas and careerism of the much of the green and alternative movements.
But it is also uplifting, optimistic and readable. Ultimately, it makes you feel that the right kind of change is possible and that the convivial society and economy would be a good place to live in.
The book will be available to order from September 2020 here.
Lawrence Woodward is a director and co-founder of Beyond GM and Whole Health Agriculture. Having been a founder and director of the Organic Research Centre (ORC) for 30 years, Lawrence advises and speaks about the principles and methods of organic agriculture to a wide range of organisations. In 2001 he was awarded an O.B.E. for services to organic farming
Featured image: The Weary Ploughman by Samuel Palmer.
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