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Soil Association

Soil Association
Founded 1946
Founder Lady Eve Balfour, Jorian Jenks and Jimbo Jones.
Type Charity
Focus Organic movement
  • South Plaza, Marlborough Street, Bristol BS1 3NX, UK
Area served
United Kingdom
Method Campaigning and certification
Key people
Monty Don: President, Helen Browning: Chief Executive
Slogan healthy soil, healthy people, healthy planet
Soil Association, Registered Charity no. 206862 at the Charity Commission

The Soil Association is a charity based in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1946, it has over 27,000 members today. Its activities include campaign work on issues including opposition to

  • Soil Association YouTube channel
  • for BBC Wales examining the implications of a carbon constrained world on agricultureWeek In, Week OutPatrick Holden, ex-Director of Soil Association, presents

Video clips

  • Official website
  • Soil Association, Registered Charity no. 206862 at the Charity Commission

External links

  1. ^ "Our history". Soil Association. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Paull, John (2009). "The Living Soil Association: Pioneering Organic Farming and Innovating Social Inclusion" (PDF). Journal of Organic Systems 4 (1): 15–33. 
  3. ^ Conford, Philip & Holden, Patrick (2007), "The Soil Association", in William Lockeretz, Organic Farming: An International History, Oxfordshire, UK & Cambridge, Massachusetts: CAB International (CABI), pp. 187–200,   ebook ISBN 978-1-84593-289-3
  4. ^ Macklin, Graham (2007). Very deeply dyed in black: Sir Oswald Mosley and the resurrection of British fascism after 1945. I.B.Tauris.  
  5. ^ Paull, John (2010). "From France to the World: The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)" (PDF). Journal of Social Research & Policy 1 (2): 93–102. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Food For Life website
  8. ^ Soil Association organic standards online
  9. ^ "Consumer advice when buying pork and bacon". 
  10. ^ Organic review. Retrieved 13 September 2009.
  11. ^ Soil Association response to the Food Standards Agency's Organic Review. Retrieved 13 September 2009.
  12. ^ Paull, John (2011) "Nanomaterials in food and agriculture: The big issue of small matter for organic food and farming", Proceedings of the Third Scientific Conference of ISOFAR (International Society of Organic Agriculture Research), 28 September – 1 October, Namyangju, Korea., 2:96–99.
  13. ^ "Agriculture standards committee". Soil Association. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  14. ^ "Aquaculture standards committee". Soil Association. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  15. ^ "Ethical trade standards committee". Soil Association. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  16. ^ "Food processing standards committee". Soil Association. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  17. ^ "Forestry standards committee". Soil Association. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  18. ^ "Health products standards committee". Soil Association. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  19. ^ "Horticulture standards committee". Soil Association. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  20. ^ "Textiles standards & trade group". Soil Association. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Soil Association website, Accessed 2015-10-08
  25. ^ The Guardian, 30 August 2008Interview: Monty Don, new President of the Soil Association,Leo Hickman,


  • House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (2008), Eleventh Report of Session 2007–08 (PDF), The potential of England's rural economy, Vol.I Report, together with formal minutes, London: The Stationery Office Ltd, retrieved 16 August 2010 
  • House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (2008), Eleventh Report of Session 2007–08 (PDF), The potential of England's rural economy, Vol.II Oral and written evidence, London: The Stationery Office Ltd, retrieved 16 August 2010  Google books preview (Report contains submission from the Soil Association, p. 197)
  • William Lockeretz, ed. (2007), Organic Farming: An International History, Oxfordshire, UK & Cambridge, Massachusetts: CAB International (CABI), pp. 187–200, ebook ISBN 978-1-84593-289-3  
  • Macklin, Graham (2007), Very Deeply Dyed in Black: Sir Oswald Mosley and the Resurrection of British Fascism after 1945, London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd,  
  • Wright, Simon & McCrea, Diane, ed. (2007), The Handbook of Organic and Fair Trade Food Marketing, Oxford, UK: Blackwell,  
Sayre, Laura (4 March 2004), The Origins of the Organic MovementReview:, (provides useful overview and commentary on the book's contents).  
  • Conford, Philip (2001), The Origins of the Organic Movement, Floris Books,  

Further reading

See also

Who's who[23]

Their governance was changed when new articles were introduced on 11th July 2015.[22]

There is a Scottish division called Soil Association Scotland, which is based in Edinburgh.

  • Council of Trustees
  • A Senior Management Team
  • Certification Scrutiny Committee A committee of independent representatives ensuring the association's certification processes are operating with integrity. All members are elected and meet six times a year.
  • Processor Technical Group A group of industry experts that represent processor licencees on technical and certification issues. All members are elected.
  • Eight standards committees Groups of trade representatives, the first step in a chain of groups jointly responsible for changing standards. All members are elected.
  • Farmer and grower board A board made up of producer members which represents their interests within the association. All members are elected.

Governing structure

The Soil Association is a major supporter of the Organic Trade Board, a commercially focused body, representing about 100 organic businesses and acting as an industry voice. The Soil Association complements the board by acting as the voice of the organic campaign movement.

Data and organic action plans are available for each UK region.

The Soil Association provides a host of financial and economic information, including yearly [ market reports] and monthly agricultural price data. It created Organic Marketplace, the UK's largest searchable directory of organic livestock, feedstuff, forage and grazing, a free online service available to all.

The Soil Association has been at the forefront of establishing alternative routes to market for organic produce. Projects have included creating producer groups to optimise trade in conventional market systems, nurturing UK Farmers' markets and box schemes, promoting community-supported agriculture schemes and better public catering, and encouraging visits to a network of over 100 farms.

The association provides general, legal, trading, marketing and training advice and support to existing businesses and those considering going organic. This includes tailored support for livestock, arable, horticulture, processing and forestry.

Business support

known as Organic Control Bodies, approved by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. SACL inspects and awards organic certification to over 4,500 farms and businesses around the world. It inspects each licensee at least once a year and carries out random, unannounced spot inspections and inspections in response to complaints or concerns. [21] Soil Association Certification Ltd (SACL) is a


  • Agriculture[13]
  • Aquaculture[14]
  • Ethical Trade[15]
  • Food Processing[16]
  • Forestry[17]
  • Health & Beauty products[18]
  • Horticulture[19]
  • Textiles[20]

Standards cover:

[12] Soil Association standards set strict


Farmers & Growers

In July 2009 the [11] criticising the report for not taking into account existing studies on the subject and noting reasons other than nutrition for consumers to choose organic food, such as environmental and animal welfare concerns.

Soil Association standards[8] are recognised to exceed statutory organic standards, such as those set by the European Union, and the UK government. Compassion in World Farming regards Soil Association standards to offer the best guarantee of high animal welfare standards in the UK.[9]

Quality of food

  • 'Organic Apprenticeship Scheme' is a two-year course involving a work-based placement with an organic farmer or grower and eight structured seminars per year.
  • 'The Food for Life Partnership' [7] is a £16.9m Garden Organic. It aims to transform school and community food culture across England by giving schools and communities access to seasonal, local and organic food and the skills they need to cook and grow fresh food for themselves;

The Soil Association also runs a number of schemes designed to educate people and reconnect them with the land and where their food comes from:


  • 'Telling porkies: The big fat lie about doubling food production' (2010); This report challenges the claim that we need to increase global food production by 50% by 2030, and 100% by 2050.
  • 'Land of the GM-free' (2008) A briefing on the launch of a major new non-GM labelling initiative in the US, the latest on US farmers rejection of new GM crops, and the staggering collapse in the market for Monsanto's GM milk hormone.
  • 'Silent invasion – the hidden use of GM crops in livestock feed' (2007) An investigation into the use of GM animal feed which finds that large quantities are being used in the UK to produce our food. This means that most of the non-organic milk, other dairy products and pork sold in the UK is from GM-fed animals.

Four recent reports, including:

Genetic Modification
  • 'Georgie porgie pudding and pie' (2008) The first detailed investigation into the state of food fed to young children attending nursery schools in England and Wales.
  • 'Not what the doctor ordered' (2007) This report, sponsored by Organix, asserts there is a contradiction between the Government's policy on healthy eating and the dominance of junk food on sale in many hospitals and leisure facilities.
  • 'A fresh approach to hospital food' (2006) This report sets out the Cornwall Food Programme, which pioneers tasty, healthier and environmentally friendly hospital meals.
  • 'The real meal deal' (2006) This report from the Soil Association and Organix takes a look at what's on the menu for children at 10 popular family restaurant chains and 14 major visitor attractions.

Ten recent reports, including:

  • 'MRSA in farm animals and meat' (2007) This report focuses on a major new antibiotic-resistance problem in farming, which may have serious consequences for human health. In some countries MRSA has been found in a large number of farm animals and in retail meat.
  • 'Batteries not included – organic farming and animal health' (2003) This report looks at the major animal welfare benefits provided by organic farms, and the opportunities to further improve welfare for organic farm animals.

Eight recent reports, including:

Welfare and wildlife
  • 'An inconvenient truth about food – neither secure, nor resilient' (2008) A report on Britain's food security summarising how UK food self-sufficiency has declined over the past decade and that there is no overall, future-proofed 'Food Plan for Britain'.
  • 'Organic works' (2006) - a report examining employment on organic farms and how organic farming is providing more jobs through organic farming and local food supply.

Ten recent reports, including:

Climate-friendly farming

The Soil Association's policy department carries out research and releases reports to further its aims. Recent major themes include:

Policy Reports

The Association's campaign priorities are to promote organic food and farming, promote food security, and to community supported agriculture.


The Soil Association Certification has been certifying organic textile businesses to the GOTS standard since 2006 . There are several other certification bodies now working to GOTS globally, with around 3000 businesses in 55 countries certified to GOTS.

The Soil Association played a leading role in the development of the GmbH. The GOTS standard was designed to make trading more efficient for operators and provide clarity for consumers on organic textiles.

  • Organic farming
  • Organic food processing
  • Organic restaurants and catering
  • Organic fisheries
  • Organic textiles and leather
  • Organic health and beauty

The Soil Association carries out work certifying products as organic in the following areas:


[5] The Soil Association was one of five like-minded associations that founded the

One of the founders of the Soil Association was Jorian Jenks, a former member of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), closely associated with Oswald Mosley. Jenks was for years the editorial secretary of the Association's journal "Mother Earth". During the late 1940s the Association involved far-right and even antisemitic elements, remnants of the defunct BUF, and was driven by far-right political ideas as much as ecological concerns. Following Jenks' death in 1963, the Association tilted towards the left of the political spectrum, especially under the new president of the Association, Barry Commoner.[4]

The Soil Association was founded in part due to concerns over intensive agriculture and in particular the use of herbicides. A comparison between the two forms of farming in 1939 was called the Haughley Experiment. The headquarters of the Soil Association used to be at the nearby Haughley Green in Suffolk.

"The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by a group of farmers, scientists and nutritionists who observed a direct connection between farming practice and plant, animal, human and environmental health."
"The catalyst was the publication of "

According to its website:

The Soil Association was formally registered on 3 May 1946,[2] and in the next decade grew from a few hundred to over four thousand members. The founding members comprised notable figures from various fields, including doctors, dentists, farmers, journalists, engineers and horticulturalists.[3]



  • History 1
  • Activities 2
    • Campaigns 2.1
    • Policy Reports 2.2
    • Education 2.3
    • Quality of food 2.4
  • Farmers & Growers 3
    • Standards 3.1
    • Certification 3.2
    • Business support 3.3
  • Governing structure 4
    • Who's who 4.1
  • See also 5
  • Further reading 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8
    • Video clips 8.1


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