Lady Eve Balfour

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Balfour in 1943

Lady Evelyn Barbara "Eve" Balfour (1899–1990) was an English farmer, educator, organic farming pioneer, and a founding figure in the organic movement. She was one of the first women to study agriculture at an English university, graduating from the University of Reading.

The daughter of the second Earl of Balfour, she began farming in 1920, in Haughley Green, Suffolk, England. In 1939, with her friend and neighbor Ryan Nelson, she launched the Haughley Experiment, the first long-term, side-by-side scientific comparison of organic and chemical-based farming.

In 1943, she published the organics classic, The Living Soil, a book combining her research with the initial findings at Haughley. She then started a series of lectures and talks based around farmers markets and cattle sales, often joined in Wales by Dinah Williams, who founded the first organic dairy farm that today is the feed farm for Rachel's Organic dairy produce.[1]

In 1946, she co-founded and became the first president of the Soil Association, an international organization claiming to promote sustainable agriculture (and the main organic farming association in the UK today). She continued to farm, write and lecture for the rest of her life, including a year-long tour throughout Australia and New Zealand during which she met Australian organic farming pioneers including Henry Shoobridge, president of the Living Soil Association of Tasmania which was the first association to affiliate with the Soil Association.[2]


  1. ^ "The Soil Association". The Times (London). 2009-09-25. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  2. ^ Paull, John (2011) "The Soil Association and Australia: From Mother Earth to Eve Balfour", Mother Earth, v.4 (Spring): 13-17.

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