I’m honoured that Lawrence Woodward has written this introduction to my new book.
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 much of the green and alternative
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.
Lawrence Woodward, OBE
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.