Lady Eve Balfour

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]

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.[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 the Haughley Experiment, the first long-term, side-by-side scientific comparison of organic and chemical-based farming.[3]

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.[4] 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[5]). She continued to farm, write and lecture for the rest of her life.[3] 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.[6]


  • A Gentleman from Texas (1927)
  • The Paper Chase (1928)
  • The Enterprising Burglar(1928)


  1. 1 2 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. 1 2 "Women's History Timeline: Lady Eve Balfour". BBC. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  3. 1 2 "Lady Eve Balfour". International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). Retrieved 12 January 2016. (WebCite page archive)
  4. 1 2 "Lady Eve Balfour". Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council (onesuffolk). Retrieved 12 Jan 2016. (WebCite page archive)
  5. Gill, Erin. "Lady Eve Balfour". Retrieved 12 January 2016. Erin Gill, the author, is an environmental journalist and historian who has written for The Guardian, The Telegraph and others. "In 2011 I was awarded a doctorate from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth for a thesis focusing on the early history of the organic food and farming movement in Britain, specifically the career of Soil Association founder, Lady Eve Balfour." (WebCite page archive)
  6. Paull, Dr. John (27 May 2011). "The Soil Association and Australia: From Mother Earth to Eve Balfour". Mother Earth (Soil Association). pp. 13–17. Retrieved 12 January 2016. v.4 (Spring) (PDF version)
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