- Join our learning community rooted in an ecological and systemic approach
- Develop your practical knowledge and understanding of regenerative agricultural systems
- Draw from the rich tapestry of local sustainable food producers of Dartington and Devon
MSc: 1 year FT, 2 years PT.
Other routes are available, including online options – see ‘Learning Pathways’
start date: January
full Term dates
Term 1: 10 Jan – 1 Apr 2022
Term 2: 25 Apr – 1 Jul 2022
Term 3 (final dissertation/major project): 11 Jul – 21 Oct 2022
onsite teaching weeks
3–7 January 2022: Welcome Week
10–21 January 2022: Module 1 Teaching Weeks
21 February–4 March 2022: Module 2 Teaching Weeks
4–15 April 2022: Module 3 Teaching Weeks
16–27 May 2022: Module 4 Teaching Weeks
next application deadline
All upcoming application and decision deadlines can be found here.
Our degree programmes are designed to suit the complexities of modern life, allowing you to live where you live and work where you work, whilst studying the subject you are passionate about as a member of our wide-reaching learning community.
Some qualifications are offered part-time – these are indicated below. We do not offer online-only pathways for this programme.
Master's of Sciences (ft/pt; 180 credits)
A low-residency programme with 4 x 30-credit modules and 1 x 60-credit Dissertation or Major Project module.
The course is available full time over one year (UK, EU or international students) or part time over two years (UK students only).
Postgraduate Diploma (ft/pt; 120 credits)
A full-time (1 year) or part-time programme (2 years, UK students only) with 4 x 30 credit modules. Students taking the full-time option will study all four modules during the first two terms. For full details on part-time pathways, please contact us.
Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits)
A full-time programme with 2 x 30 credit modules. Students will study both modules during term one.
First module only (30 credits)
The first module from this course can be studied on a standalone basis, with 30 credits allocated per module.
To apply for the accredited single module option, apply in the usual way, selecting the ‘Module One’ option during the application process.
short course (unaccredited)
For full information – and to purchase a non-accredited course place – choose one of the below options (all open in new website):
This radical new course is designed to help you develop your knowledge and understanding of resilient human-scale food systems and learn the skills needed to design, influence or develop resilient, productive food-based networks and businesses of your own. With an ecological and systemic approach, you will carve out a path towards making a positive contribution to the food economy.
Food production systems at present are ruining the planet and our health, enriching markets rather than the soil. “Regenerative” means to bring more to live ecologically and economically. Food and farming are major contributors to global warming change, when they could be contributing towards mitigating it. There is also a serious depletion of our most valuable resource: soils. This significant new programme will help you find new ways of thinking and doing, that can help encourage ecological systems to improve farm and food production for the benefit of people and the planet.
Regenerative Food, Farming and Enterprise is concerned with the growth of resilient human-scale food systems through inspiring, skilling and supporting a new generation of growers, entrepreneurs, organisations and activists.
It will help you develop your knowledge and understanding of regenerative agricultural systems based on biological and ecological processes and food production that addresses social, ecological and economic challenges. You will learn the skills needed to design, influence or develop food networks and food-based businesses that are both resilient and productive, and you will have the opportunity to study agriculture and food production in a deeply interdisciplinary environment that promotes debate and innovation with an emphasis on exploring current debates around food futures.
The challenges facing society that this programme will address include:
- the multiple challenges that the food system currently faces – climate change, escalating fossil fuel and food prices, food insecurity, soil degradation, biodiversity loss, global poverty and inequality – and their systemic links to the current economic model;
- growing disillusionment with the dominance of mainstream food production approaches and solutions;
- opportunities for new ecological and biological approaches to intensifying food production with an emphasis on ecosystem and human health.
The programme is rooted in an ecological and systemic approach within the holistic learning model of Schumacher College that attracts students and visiting teachers from all over the world. It explores the frontiers of new thinking and practices in Horticulture that together form a globally diverse effort to build resilient, sustainable and healthy food systems.
Schumacher College attracts people from all walks of life from across the globe – from growers and entrepreneurs to policymakers and social and environmental activists. This programme is designed to support a new generation of growers, leaders and activists to co-create the new food economy. It will be attractive to people at different stages in their life seeking to make a positive contribution to the food economy through enhancing their knowledge; acquiring practical skills; and sharing experiences with people from a diversity of regions.
programme structure & modules
Module 1: Soil Health (30 credits)
This module explores how soils work and promotes a thorough understanding of the relations in the web of soil life that the programme builds on. It shows how improving the biodiversity of plants, fungi, fauna, and microorganisms can produce healthier soil structures, now called ‘soil health’ This benefits water, nutrients and carbon cycles. The module evaluates factors affecting soil health, and indicators of improvement, to judge the wider impacts on the environment, climate change, erosion and flooding.
- To find out how soil food webs, consisting of flora, macro- and meso-fauna, fungi, and microorganisms, work so as to improve soil functions.
- To identify the importance of soil health in crop growth, animal welfare, water holding and healthier diets.
- To demonstrate how increasing the biodiversity of life in soils helps drive biogeochemical processes, like water, carbon and nutrient cycles, that make life on earth possible.
- To evaluate factors that affect good soil health and best indictors of soil life.
- To determine how improving soil health can contribute to resilience and help mitigate climate change.
Module 2: Regenerative Practices (30 credits)
This module investigates a wide range of regenerative practices around the world, that include cover crops, no-till, animal grazing and promoting biodiversity. Students will liaise with College partners in a discourse about the most appropriate agricultural approach for any situation, taking in related concerns like seed sharing, organic, community growing and local food processing. Students will put techniques into practice and monitor their performance, with soil health indicators.
- To investigate various examples of regenerative practices, and compare with other land management approaches, from around the world
- To determine those regenerative practices most relevant to any given land.
- To evaluate the most appropriate techniques.
- To discuss introduction of possible practices with partners in wider social and technical context.
- To identify practices to improve soil health in a given piece of land and measure improvements
Module 3: Food Economy (30 credits)
New food economies pose a challenge to existing conventional food systems that deliver ‘cheap’ food while ignoring environmental, health and social costs. Students will explore alternative economic models and see how food systems can contribute to that and improve health. This module explores how much of our wealth comes ultimately from the soil and that, by nurturing soils, we can provide more resilient and sustainable food systems, healthier food, and regenerate local economies.
- To analyse the present food system throughout the world, particularly the UK’s role, and why it delivers under-priced food that makes us ill.
- To explore how in a circular economy, economic activity builds and rebuilds system health, including eco-systems and human health.
- To investigate how improving the soil eco-system can enhance natural capital for benefit of communities.
- To evaluate how shorter food chains benefit both farm producers and food consumers
- To create new avenues of funding, public and private, to introduce innovative approaches, including regenerative food and farm practices, which enhance soil, water, biodiversity and human health.
Module 4: Establish Enterprise (30 credits)
This module examines the design and development of a regenerative food/farm enterprise, as a food producer-led activity. It will show how value can be added with innovation when production systems can be linked more directly with consumers. It will explore different models of social/ecological/regenerative enterprises and the process of enterprise design. This is to provide a framework to go on and design an enterprise, whether starting or scaling up, using market research, networks and social media.
- To identify the economic and political feasibility of setting up a regenerative enterprise, and barriers to investment.
- To develop an understanding of the structure and content of ‘new’ enterprises, and their application to local and food production systems further afield.
- To evaluate different models of social/ecological/cooperative/company regenerative enterprises
- To create an enterprise, whether starting or scaling up, taking in funding, marketing and networks.
- To work with partners to innovate ways of funding sources that can help invest in an enterprise.
Module 5: Dissertation or Final Project (60 credits)
This module encourages students to demonstrate their capacity for independent study by applying their knowledge of regenerative practices to a topic appropriate to the degree, such as consultancy tools, nutrition measurement, local food policies, research topics and consumer choices. Students are expected to submit their plans, practices and policies into present political context, and a wider philosophy about how we treat our earth.
- To provide an opportunity for the student to pursue in depth a topic of their own choosing.
- To develop the skills and confidence necessary to carry out original research.
- To explore statistical design and analysis of experiments to enable assessment of results.
- To determine possible uptake of any positive results within the surrounding political economy of the food system
- To propose suggestions recognising philosophies that address the relation between humans and earth.
Qualification(s) required for entry to the MSc
BA/BSc (Honours) Degree A first degree
Where the first degree is not a 2.1, or in an unrelated subject, further support of the application or experience may be required.
Other non-standard awards or experience
A willingness engage with the field of Sustainable Farming & Enterprise. Candidates will be considered with prior credited learning and prior experiences subject to interview.*
All applicants are required to attend an interview, either at the College or online. During the interview we will look for: evidence of intellectual clarity during interview; a clearly formulated purpose for taking the course; focused interests and a clear understanding of the ethos and philosophy of the College; readiness and ability to live and work in a communal setting.
If you do not hold the required A-Level or equivalent Level 3 qualifications
In this instance, you may be asked to complete our Agricultural Biosciences Foundation Course. The course is two weeks long and costs £200. You may book and pay for this course here.
For further information please contact our admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Nathan Einbinder
Nathan is course lead for Regenerative Food and Farming programmes. Before arriving at Schumacher, Nathan taught geography at San Diego State University and the University of Northern British Columbia.
In addition to teaching, he worked as a consultant for international organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, where he conducted research on regenerative soil management and its connection to socio-ecological resilience in Central America.
Nathan has said that he is eager to bring his experiences to Schumacher College to inspire students and relate the principles and values of Indigenous agroecology to the UK context. He is also excited to put into practice his background and commitment to experiential education, to help train the next generation of change-makers and regenerative food and farming professionals.
Melissa Harvey is a grower, horticulture teacher and facilitator. She is Assistant Lecturer for our Regenerative Food, Farming and Enterprise programme.
In 2004 Melissa carried out research in Sri Lanka following the Tsunami for her MPhil in Sustainable Agriculture, where she explored elements influencing the resilience of smallholder farmers. The research looked at agroecological and psycho-social factors, finding that resilience of small farmers affected by the tsunami was boosted by both agroecological and social diversity and connections.
Inspired to work more locally towards a more sustainable food system Melissa trained in practical sustainable horticulture, and went on to work as part of a team to set up School Farm CSA, near Totnes, as well as working to support food growing and composting in schools across Devon. Melissa currently delivers the Practical Horticulture adult training at School Farm, and also runs a small herb, perennial vegetable and wildflower nursery based at the farm.
She has a profound respect for and interest in working with and learning from the land, and all plants and creatures. She lives on the edge of Dartmoor with her partner and, when she is not growing plants, enjoys exploring and meeting them in the wild.
Caroline has a background in design, farming and cooking. She trained and worked with Patrick Whitefield, continuing his business after his retirement, and co-authored Food from your Forest Garden (Green Books, 2012) with Martin Crawford.
Caroline has been an associate lecturer at Schumacher College since 2016 and led the development of the BSc Regenerative Food and Farming programme. She lives with her partner and son on a 4 acre smallholding in Dartmoor where they produce veg, fruit, eggs, honey and firewood.
Charlie is an expert on soil health, and how soil life is crucial to healthy ecosystems.Read More
After a long gap, campaigning for better food systems, he realised that soil should have more prominence in climate crisis debates. He believes we need to see soil more as a whole, rather than just carbon molecules, with a rich mix of life, including worms, nematodes, fungi bacteria and lots of little arthropods working together to create underground cities. He set up a website www.soilanimals.com, exploring the role of soil animals in the state of soils, from where BBC Gardeners World did a feature on him with his homemade sampling systems. There he showed how springtails act like both the birds and the bees of soils in spreading fungi and bacteria. Currently he is writing a book on the evolution of soil – when and how it came about.
Martin is Director of the Agroforestry Research Trust.Read More
He has had broad and varied horticultural/agricultural experience over the last 30 years – he has worked for the Yarner Trust in North Devon, teaching small-scale organic agriculture; grown food for a small hotel on the Isle of Iona; restored the walled gardens of a manor house in mid-Devon; and run his own organic market garden and tree nursery in South Devon. He now manages the 20 acres of grounds that the ART uses in South Devon, and is a consultant on many small and large scale projects.
Marina is a director of the Apricot Centre at Dartington.Read More
In 2022 the Apricot Centre will launch a new level 3 traineeship in regenerative land based systems, with 20 trainees placed over 15 farms in Devon. Marina is also part of the Dartington Mill, Reclaim the Grain team, producing, milling and selling local grains and flour, and bread, relocalising and decommodifying grains.
Marina studied Horticulture at Bath University, and studied a Masters in Environment and Society under Jules Pretty. She has worked at the Horticultural Training workshop at Dartington Trust, Otley Agricultural College, ran a small market garden in Essex and now a larger one in Devon. The team have just completed an impact assessment of Huxhams Cross farm, showing the farm is carbon negative, supports biodiversity, and is economically viable producing lots of local food. Her new book Designing Regenerative Food Systems is to be published in January 2022.
Born in Glastonbury, Somerset, Colum admits he is rarely happier than when in a muddy field. He has run a number of small agriculture businesses and also worked as a freelance horticulture consultant. He has run a market garden, worked with community supported agriculture, spent a year as part of an intentional community at Radford Mill, near Bristol, and WOOFed (worked on an organic farm) his way around France and Spain. His spare time is spent walking with his wife and two children, singing and improving his unicycling.
He is co-founder of the Campaign for Real Farming, the Oxford Real Farming Conference, Funding Enlightened Agriculture, and the College for Real Farming and Food Culture.
In his latest book, The Great Think, he argues that it is still possible to rescue humanity and our fellow creatures from what is already looking catastrophic – but only if we re-think everything we do and think we know from first principles.
The concept of regenerative agriculture and transitioning towards sustainable food systems has exploded in recent times, leading to unprecedented opportunities and challenges. As awareness over the negative impacts of the industrial food system grows, so will the need for trained professionals and innovative thinkers who can put the theories, demands, and policies into action.
The MSc Course in Regenerative Food, Farming, and Enterprise is designed to provide this necessary training. As a graduate from this programme you will have the necessary tools to embark on a number of diverse and exciting careers, including:
- Regenerative farming advisor or consultant – In the coming years there will be a critical demand for professionals who understand and have clear experience with regenerative farming practices, in order to assist farmers who aim to make the transition.
- Regenerative farm manager or owner
- Small business owner or advisor involved in the regenerative food system – As demand for local and regenerative products grow, so will the need for other businesses involved in processing, distribution, and other innovative methods at involving the public and consumers.
- Regenerative food and farming researcher – This could be for academic institutions, the government, or international organizations such as OXFAM or the FAO.
- Regenerative farm centre owner – More educational facilities will be necessary to train others as the field grows
- Consultant for an NGO on farming and food policy
- …or design your own not-for-profit organization
latest news & blogs
Find out why we’re returning to the almost lost art of coppicing and the ecological and agricultural benefits of reviving this ancient practice.
Last week the ORFC brought together thousands to discuss ecological approaches to farming and food production, including many of us at Schumacher College.
Find out from our Head Gardener, Colum Pawson, how he goes about planning what to grow next season and where.