Lady Eve Balfour

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Balfour in 1943

Lady Evelyn Barbara "Eve" Balfour (1898–1990) was a 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 institution now known as University of Reading.

The daughter of second Earl of Balfour, she began farming in 1919, in Haughley Green, Suffolk, England. In 1939, she launched plans for the Haughley Experiment, the first long-term, field-based and scientific comparison of organic and chemical-based farming.

In 1943, leading London publishing house Faber & Faber published Eve Balfour's bookThe Living Soil. It quickly became a key founding text of the emerging organic food and farming movement. The book synthesised existing arguments in favour of organics with a description of her plans for the Haughley Experiment.

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, garden, 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.[1]


  1. ^ 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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