Ecological Food Systems

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Schumacher College

Postgraduate Programme

Ecological Food Systems at Schumacher College

Schumacher College is the first in the world to offer a postgraduate programme in Ecological Food Systems, developed in collaboration with Plymouth University, The Organic Research Centre (ORC), The Campaign for Real Farming and the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT).

Join the leaders and change agents at the forefront of new thinking in resilient and healthy food systems.

This course explores the frontiers of research and practice that will meet the social, ecological and economic challenges our food systems face in the 21st Century.

We offer you a unique and transformative blend of academic and practical learning opportunities from Schumacher College, Plymouth University, the Organic Research Centre, The Campaign for Real Farming and the Centre for Alternative Technology.
sustainable horticulture and food production students
Beyond industrial food systems

Now that global population has passed 7 billion, we urgently need to consider how our food systems will cope in the coming years. The food industry tells us we need to increase yields but the reality is far more complex.

Food needs to be of sufficient quality as well as quantity, while diets will need to adapt in order to improve agricultural land-use. We need to move away from methods of production that contribute to environmental degradation and consume finite resources. Food sovereignty (the right of people to define their own systems) must be included in the debate, as well as grassroots movements in food localisation. Food waste and distribution are complex issues that also need to be addressed alongside production. In addition, food systems need to be resilient in an unpredictable and changing climate.

These are the issues that you will explore on the course, which brings together the thinking, research and practice at the cutting-edge of a global food revolution. Drawing from many different models and initiatives around the world, including ‘human scale’ horticulture, holistic mixed farming, farm-scale agroforestry and local food networks, Schumacher College’s starting point is complexity and resilience in natural systems. We believe that agriculture and associated food systems have to be inspired by biological and ecological processes.
Why Schumacher College?

Schumacher College has an international reputation for its holistic and systemic approach to sustainability. Our teaching approaches offer more than an intellectual enquiry since they nurture the whole self, fostering a deep engagement with nature that empowers and inspires our students to take action in the world.

Food and ecology have been at the heart of the College, since its inception in 1991. The College launched its vocational programmes in sustainable horticulture in 2008, which have expanded to include the postgraduate and short courses, as well as a sizeable food growing operation.

The College’s four acres of grounds and gardens include polytunnels, composting areas, forest gardens, ‘no dig’ kitchen gardens and habitats for biodiversity. We have recently begun to develop a five acre field for an innovative project in agroforestry. These land-based resources provide a rich learning experience, with a variety of research opportunities for dissertation projects. We are adjacent to Martin Crawford’s famous forest garden and School Farm, a Community Supported Agriculture scheme.

The course is validated through the School of Biological Sciences at Plymouth University (link is external), which has a well-established profile in horticulture, nutrition and ecology alongside high quality research and laboratory facilities.

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