James ‘Jimmy’ Macmillan Anderson MBE

Born 30th Aug 1927 – Died 4th Feb 2015

Jimmy Anderson MBE has died aged 87. Jimmy was one of the key people instrumental in establishing biodynamic farming in the UK as a recognized part of the organic movement in the 1980’s through his work with UKROF developing standards and inspection procedures.

In 1999 jimmy was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours for 30 years of service dedicated to Organic Agriculture. In 2009 Jimmy received a lifetime achievement award from the Biodynamic Agriculture Association.

Jimmy, the son of a GP, grew up in Elie in Fife where as a boy he enjoyed working on neighboring Broom Farm. He attended Edinburgh Academy, which was followed by 3 years of National Service in the Royal Navy where he was stationed in the Wester Pacific on a minesweeper squadron. On his return he attended Edinburgh University where he commenced studying medicine.

During this time, he met and fell in love with Pauline (nee Barrington) who wanted to marry a farmer. Jimmy switched his studies to agriculture, to which he felt he was much more suited. He and Pauline married in 1952.

It is difficult talking about Jimmy’s life and achievements without including Pauline. Jimmy and Pauline were real soul mates in the true sense of the word. It is hard to talk about the contribution of one without the other.

They were a strong and enduring couple and they worked well together in everything they did, complementing, sharing and supporting each other throughout their marriage.

They began farming and raising a family in Perth-shire in the mid 50’s. They began farming on Woodburn farm near Crieff in partnership, with Jimmy’s old school friend lan Stewart. During this time Jimmy also worked as a fieldsman for crop chemical firm SAl. They then managed to buy Outfield, a small conventional upland farm at the foot of the Sidlaw Hills between Perth and Dundee, which they farmed for 8 years. They developed a strong interest in folk music and the folk revival. Jimmy started to compare in the local folk clubs in Perth and Dundee, hosting a wide variety of guest singers at the farm including Ewan McColl, Peggy Seeger, Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick and the Waterson’s among others. They also started to host folk week-ends on the farm and musicians and singers came from far and wide.

They became interested in whole foods and began to question the use of chemicals on the land. So began their search for more holistic and sustainable farming meth-ods. This combined with a search for a better way to feed and educate their children. Their search led them to the purchase of a very run down “Vale Farm’, in the village of Halstock, Dorset. Here they started to farm using organic principles for the first time while also carrying out extensive work on the house and initiating the excavation of a substantial Roman Villa’ which was carried out by Dorchester Museum. They also became very involved and active in the English folk song and dance scene in the area.

They then heard about Emerson College in Forest Row, Sussex in 1967, and went to meet its principle, Francis Edmunds. This formed part of their ongoing search for an education system that they felt was right for their 5 children.

They decided that they had to learn more about Steiner’s ideas and enrolled in the Foundation year and Agriculture course, respectively, at Emerson. They also sent their chile dren to the nearby Michael Hall Steiner School. Following this they bought Busses Farm on the outskirts of East Grinstead. It was encountering the work of Rudolph Steiner which gave them the principles that would guide the rest of their lives.

The word organic is now very much an accepted part of our language, but in the late 60’s when they started Busses Farm using bio-dynamic methods, they were well ahead of the times. Although bio-dynamics was beginning to become more established on the continent, in the late 60’s there were only 5 bio dynamic farms in the UK. Jimmy and Pauline, not only planted seeds in the soil but sowed a the seeds of, what were for the time, very innovative ideas involving a holistic approach to farming, and the principle ot of the farm as an organism. They began offering placements for students training in agriculture at Emerson College.

Many of the people who passed through the farm went on to start their own initiatives in other countries all over the world.

farmer’s wife, Diana Phillips. The Seasons provided an outlet for the cereals, vegetables and milk products produced at Busses Farm and the other bio-dynamic farms in the area. It was very well supported by the Forest Row community, and 1s still in existence today, albeit in a new and larger location in the village.

They also opened a small whole-food organic café called ‘Seasons Kitchen’ in Forest Row with, one of the original Busses farm students Lucy Murton, who managed the day to day running of the cafe. The cafe ran very successfully for two years providing an outlet for much of the Busses farm Bio-dynamic vegetable, dairy and home baked produce, as well as a much needed meeting place for the local community. It was an early attempt to foster a stronger channel of communication and co-operation between producer and consumer.

Busses Farm was an amazing and inspirational place for many of the young people who passed through it, unfortunately it was plagued by being financially under resourced and eventually had to be sold much to Pauline and Jimmy’s sadness.

Following the sale of Busses Farm, Jimmy and Pauline decided to move back to Scotland. They started a small Bio-Dynamic garden in Pencaitland supplying vegetables for the Church of Scotland’s Netherbow Restaurant in Edinburgh. They then became involved in an initiative to set up the Helios Fountain Project in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh. This was envisioned as a small study/ cultural centre combined with an anthroposophical books, crafts and cafe complex. Jimmy and Pauline agreed to run the largely biodynamic wholefood café at the back of the premises, for two years. Helios Fountain café was idealistically run and also well received and frequented. After 2 years of building up the business they recognised that it was time for them to move on to new things. Helios Fountain continues to run today in the same location, as a book and craft shop.

Deep gratitude was expressed by many people who new Jimmy and Pauline during this time for their valuable contribution to the Edinburgh Anthroposophical society and the tremendous creativity, hard work and com-mitment.

Jimmy then began one year Social Development training at the Centre for Social Development at Plaw Hatch near Forest Row, while Pauline undertook training in both Art Therapy and Rhythmical Massage.

They then moved back to Edinburgh in the late 80’s. Jimmy took on the role of Demeter Inspector, managing the UK Demeter certification scheme for biodynamic farming

At the time of starting this work he was the only inspector in the UK, a role which he continued for eighteen years. Jimmy also set up a Farm Consultancy Initiative which he named ‘Farm Future’. This was an advisory and certification consultancy offering advice to farmers and gardeners who wished to switch from conventional to biodynamic and organic methods of farming and gardening.

Jimmy’s described his Demeter Inspector’s role as “someone who could talk from experience of the land and point out and guide the farmer towards the right way of doing things”. Jimmy was very straight-forward in expressing his belief that the biodynamic approach was totally sensible, realistic and a practical form of agriculture. Jimmy started ‘Farm Future’ an advisory service for farmers wishing to convert to more sustainable farming methods.

Following retirement, and anxious to re-connect to the land, Jimmy and Pauline moved to Netherheld Farm near Beeswing in Dumfries shire in 1998 which they transformed into a special place offering therapeutic B&B, offering rest, care and rejuvenation with home grown biodynamic food. This project encapsulated what they had been striving for – a mixture of production, therapy, including nutrition and accommodation: “the farm as a social and healing or-ganism”. Netherfield Guest House was a very special place for those who stayed there.

In 1999 Jimmy was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours for his 30 years of dedicated Service to Organic Agriculture. Jimmy always felt that his receipt of his MBE was a discrete official vote of confidence for bio dynamic work in the UK.

Sadly Pauline died in 2007. Jimmy is survived by his 4 daughters Fiona, Shuna, Kirsty and Corran, his son Fergus, and by his 6 grandchildren.