Lady Eve Balfour

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Balfour in 1943

Lady Evelyn Barbara "Eve" Balfour, OBE (16 July 1898 – 16 January 1990) was a British 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 the University of Reading.[1]

One of the six children of Gerald, Earl of Balfour and the niece of former prime minister Arthur Balfour, she had decided she wanted to be a farmer by the age of 12.[2]

In 1919, at the age of 21, she used her inheritance to buy New Bells Farm in Haughley Green, Suffolk.[1][2] 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 Balfour's book The 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 which promotes 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.[3]


  • The Living Soil (1943)
  • Three detective novels, with Bery Hearnden, under the pseudonym Hearnden Balfour[4]
  • A Gentleman from Texas (1927)
  • The Paper Chase (1928)
  • The Enterprising Burglar(1928)


  1. ^ a b Haines, Catharine M. C. (2001). International Women in Science: A Biographical Dictionary to 1950. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 16. ISBN 1-57607-090-5. 
  2. ^ a b "Women's History Timeline: Lady Eve Balfour". BBC. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Paull, John (2011) "The Soil Association and Australia: From Mother Earth to Eve Balfour", Mother Earth, v.4 (Spring): 13-17.
  4. ^ "Lady Eve Balfour". Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council (onesuffolk).  (Archived by WebCite)

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