According to their website: “The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by a group of farmers, scientists and nutritionists who observed a direct connection between farming practice and plant, animal, human and environmental health.”
“The catalyst was the publication of The Living Soil by Lady Eve Balfour, the sister of a Prime Minister, in 1943. The book presented the case for an alternative, sustainable approach to agriculture that has since become known as organic farming.”
The Soil Association was founded in part due to concerns over intensive agriculture and in particular the use of herbicides. A comparison between the two forms of farming in 1939 was called the Haughley Experiment. The headquarters of the Soil Association used to be at the nearby Haughley Green in Suffolk.
One of the founders of the Soil Association was Jorian Jenks, a former member of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), closely associated with Oswald Mosley. Jenks was for years the editorial secretary of the Association’s journal “Mother Earth”. During the late 40s the Association involved far-right and even antisemitic elements, remnants of the defunct BUF, and was driven by far-right political ideas as much as ecological concerns. Following Jenks’ death in 1963, the Association tilted towards the left of the political spectrum, especially under the new president of the Association, Barry Commoner.
…and more on Jorian Jenks:
A member of the British Union of Fascists, he was the agricultural advisor to the party. He organised garden parties to raise funds for the BUF, a fairly common technique amongst the party’s more affluent and rural supporters. A self-styled ‘critic of modern economy’, he wrote for the BUF journal Action under the pseudonym ‘Vergillius’. He also wrote articles on animal husbandry for the non-BUF journal New Pioneer, an anti-Semitic work founded in late 1938 by John Beckett and Lord Lymington. In 1936 Jenks was picked as candidate for the forthcoming general election for Horsham and Worthing.
Jenks took charge of the agricultural policy of the BUF, seeking to lead Britain to agricultural autarky. He called for import controls and the establishment of an Agricultural Land Bank in order to make farm debt more manageable as well as an Agricultural Corporation to fix prices and fit in with the BUF corporatist economic policy. Landowners who were seen to be misusing their land would also be subject to compulsory purchase, with a Volunteer Land Army established to restore the reclaimed territory.
It’s amazing how well this lines up with chunks of philosophy from the supposedly leftist/liberal Occupy movement:
On 22 April 2012, (Earth Day) around 200 activists broke the lock on the gate, entered the Tract, and began farming, and farming ensued. Having the action begin on April 22nd was intended to be a show of solidarity with Via Campesina, an international movement of peasant organizations.
The stated intent of the participants is to establish a sustainable farm to provide food to the local community. Participants additionally argue that such a farm could play an important role in educating the local community about sustainable agricultural practices while helping to establish food sovereignty in the local community. The organizers have emphasized that their intention is to create a working farm, rather than simply occupy the land.
…and farming ensued. Seize land that is not theirs and “do good” with it, badly. Having grown up amongst farms and farmers, I attest that their efforts are really quite tragic.
But the worst thing about this discovery is: I shall never watch The Good Life in quite the same way ever again, ‘coz now it’s a fascist manifesto:
…Felicity Kendal notwithstanding.