Born: July 16, 1898, Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Died: January 14, 1990, Dunbar, United Kingdom
Education: University of Reading
Books: The Living Soil, more
Organizations founded: Soil Association, more
Lived: New Bells Farm, New Bells Ln, Haughley, Stowmarket IP14 3RW, UK (52.23719, 0.97931)
Buried: Whittingehame (near Dunbar), Whittingehame, East Lothian, Scotland
Lady Evelyn Barbara "Eve" Balfour 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. Balfour, who lived on a farm with her companion Beryl ‘Beb’ Hearnden from 1919 to about 1951, and then lived with agriculturalist Kathleen Carnley until this latter's death, ‘discovered the freedom of breeches’ in the First World War; Elizabeth Lutyens remembered ‘She had an Egyptian face of great strength and charm, with cropped hair and masculine manners, in spite of a feminine heart.’ Hearnden's pursuit of paid journalism work in London coincided with her departure from the struggling farming cooperative.
Together from 1919 to 1951: 32 years.
Lady Evelyn "Eve” Barbara Balfour (July 16, 1898 - January 14, 1990)
Beryl “Beb” Hearnden (1897 – January 22, 1978)
Kathleen Carnley (1889-1976)
Days of Love edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: September 21, 2014
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In 1919, at the age of 21, Lady Eve Balfour used her inheritance to buy New Bells Farm in Haughley Green, Suffolk. In 1939, she launched the Haughley Experiment, the first long-term, side-by-side scientific comparison of organic and chemical-based farming.
Address: New Bells Ln, Haughley, Stowmarket IP14 3RW, UK (52.23719, 0.97931)
Type: Private Property
English Heritage Building ID: 280574 (Grade II, 1955)
New Bells has been formerly owned by Lady Eve Balfour, who originally founded the Soil Association. The Haughley Research Trust was set up to conduct a long term organic farming experiment at the property, and Lady Eve subsequently published her definitive book, “The Living Soil,” based on this research. Whilst the Trust no longer exists and the farm is no longer organic, the Soil Association continues to this day, promoting sustainable organic farming. The property is surrounded by its own land, which is located to the east of the Haughley to Bacton Road. Approached via a minor dead end lane, the Farmhouse has fully moated grounds offering a degree of privacy from the main yard and farm buildings. The property is situated some 1.5 miles from Haughley Village, near to both Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds, about 4 miles and 14 miles away respectively. The farmhouse is believed to date back to around 1530 and is of timber frame construction with part herringbone brick and part lathe and plaster elevations under a tiled roof. The house stands in its own gardens and grounds, with numerous mature trees surrounding the property. The house enjoys views over open countryside and across to the traditional Suffolk Barn. The house has many interesting features, including a magnificent dragon beam located in the sitting room, supporting the jettied upper floor in the south-western corner of the house. The garden is completely surrounded by the attractive moat, which is believed to date originally from around 1150. It is mainly laid to lawn with flower borders adjacent to the house and numerous mature trees both in the garden and bordering the moat, including oak, ash, pine, copper maple and a large weeping ash.
Who: Lady Evelyn Barbara "Eve" Balfour, OBE (July 16, 1898 – January 16, 1990)
Lady Eve Balfour 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. Balfour, one of the six children of Gerald, Earl of Balfour, and the niece of former prime minister Arthur Balfour, had decided she wanted to be a farmer by the age of 12. In 1943, leading London publishing house Faber & Faber published Balfour’s book, “The Living Soil.” Reprinted numerous times, it became a founding text of the emerging organic food and farming movement. The book synthesized existing arguments in favor of organics with a description of her plans for the Haughley Experiment. In 1946, Balfour 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, write and lecture for the rest of her life. In 1958, she embarked on a year-long tour of Australia and New Zealand, during which she met Australian organic farming pioneers, including Henry Shoobridge, president of the Living Soil Association of Tasmania, the first organization to affiliate with the Soil Association. Lady Eve Balfour died in 1990 and her ashes were buried beside her sister Mary at Whittingehame, the home where they had first dreamed of a life together in farming.
Queer Places, Vol. 2 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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