Diversity of Approaches


Without an understanding for what agriculture involves, it is almost impossible to make a responsible decision regarding one’s own choice of food.”                              Ueli Hurter (ed.)  Agriculture For the Future.


At Crossfields Institute we believe that in order to transform agriculture and our relationship to food, we need to also transform our thinking and actions around food – a mutual process of growth and change. This recognition lives in the diversity of approaches to agriculture which we aim to support through this programme: organic agriculture, permaculture, urban agriculture, biodynamics, holistic management – to name but a few.

The focus of this programme is to test, support, develop and advance research methods (quantitative and qualitative) that serve the purpose of gaining wider acceptance of holistic agriculture while also working in a way that preserves the ethos of taking a holistic approach. The programme acknowledges that if a truly holistic understanding of the natural world is to emerge, relevant and rigorous new approaches to research and enquiry are also needed.

This programme is timely as evidenced by the number of national and global initiatives that struggle to answer questions about the sustainability of current agricultural practices and future food security of a warming planet. There is now a wider recognition that multi-disciplinary ecosystem approaches that are aligned with the ethos of ‘thinking globally and acting locally’ need to be developed, enhanced and brought into the mainstream.

What are the aims of the programme?

  • To broaden students’ understanding of different sustainable food production systems (Biodynamics, Organics, urban agriculture etc.) in a local and global context
  • To challenge students to become flexible, intuitive and independent in their enquiry, not just in how they do things but in what and why they do things, and address the role of ethics in research and in global food systems
  • To develop graduates with the knowledge, confidence and skills to critically interrogate the results of research into sustainable agriculture and food production and to design and carry out research themselves using theoretical and reflective frameworks appropriate for a holistic view of nature and the human being
  • To develop graduates who can communicate their own research findings, the ideas underpinning holistic land-based practices, and the advantages of sustainable approaches to a range of stakeholders and other audiences
  • To support a developing community of practice who will develop new practice and new ways of thinking in agriculture and food production, generate new findings, share evidence-based best practice, and support new sustainability initiatives

Further Reading