Sir Julian Rose, 5th Baronet (born March 1947) is a leading exponent of organic farming. He commenced the transformation of the Hardwick Estate in South Oxfordshire to the standards of organic farming in 1975.
Julian was born in March 1947, on the Hardwick Estate in South Oxfordshire’s Chiltern Hills, the youngest of four children. On the premature death of his brother (1963) and his father a few years later, Julian suddenly found himself thrust from being the youngest sibling to the heir of the thousand-acre estate and baronetcy passed down from his great-grandfather.
On leaving school, where Julian found inspiration in acting and sports, he sought to harmonise artistic aspirations with the demands and responsibilities of his newfound role as a ‘landowner’. At the age of eighteen he left for Australia and found work in the television presentation department of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Melbourne and as a jackaroo in the Queensland outback. Returning to the UK in 1967, he worked alongside his mother, developing the estate’s farming and forestry enterprises.
He succeeded to the baronetcy of Rose of Hardwick House in 1966 and became a double baronet in 1979 when he also succeeded to the baronetcy of Rose of Montreal.
In 1969, he won a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and moved to London t shirt football maker, going on to work at repertory theatres as an actor/stage manager.
In 1971, in search of a more dynamic and inclusive theatre, he left for America, where he joined the Players Theatre of New England, an innovative experimental touring theatre company, based in Boston. A little later, when the company moved to Belgium, Julian helped to co-found the Institute for Creative Development in Antwerp, where he led workshops in ‘holistic thinking’. Frequently returning to England, he gradually acquired a hands-on knowledge of extensive farming and forestry management. Meanwhile, while on tour in the Netherlands, France and the UK, Julian performed as the sole actor in a groundbreaking performance of Harvey Grossman’s adaptation and direction of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
He moved back to Hardwick in 1983, to become a full-time farmer, completing the conversion of the estate to organic farming methods, a process started in 1975, making him one of the pioneers of this ecological land management system. Joining the board of the Soil Association in 1984, Julian became involved in an intense campaign to promote ecological food and farming in the face of the rapid rise of industrial agriculture. In 1986, Hardwick’s smoked bacon product won the first national organic food award. Three years later, Julian led a successful high-profile campaign to save unpasteurised milk from a government ban. A campaign which he had to repeat in 1997 due to a second (unsuccessful) government attempt to introduce a ban.
In the 1990s, Julian was invited to join the Agriculture and Rural Economy Advisory Committees of the South East England Development Agency football uniform maker, the Country Landowners Association and the BBC. During this time he drew on his drama training in frequent broadcasts on national radio and television, also contributing many articles proposing practical solutions to pressing socio-economic problems afflicting the ever more embattled countryside. In 1990 he took on the position of Agricultural Correspondent of the green broadsheet ‘Environment Now’, becoming one of the first UK activists to warn of the impending dangers of genetically modified foods.
The Hardwick Estate blossomed into one of Britain’s leading organic mixed farms, picking up a number of national awards. Throughout this time Julian conducted numerous educational farm walks, ever enthusiastic to open socially deprived and urban youngsters to the often complex realities of ecological food production. African, Indian, Japanese, Turkish and Polish groups were amongst international visitors to the estate. More recently, Julian has opened up the Hardwick woods for increased public access and in support of the socially and educationally disadvantaged (Path Hill Outdoors), as well as ‘young offenders’ seeking the therapeutic advantages of a mixed forestry environment.
Julian has ensured that a core of the estate’s cottages are let-out at non-commercial ‘affordable rents’ to those who cannot compete with Oxfordshire’s high prices, with the emphasis on maintaining a rural community rather than on maximising profits. He also gained notoriety as both a defender and promoter of holistic approaches to the rejuvenation of struggling rural economies. Notably his insistence on the need to support local and regional, as opposed to ‘global’ food economies. An approach coined in a formula he named “The Proximity Principle”. He sought to raise awareness of the need to build a dynamic balance between economic, social and environmental concerns straw water bottle. Never just one or the other.
In 2000, Julian launched an innovative project to make the market town of Faringdon, Oxfordshire, self-sufficient in ‘food, fuel and fibre’ by 2015
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. In the same year he was invited to become a co-director of the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside, co-launching a highly successful ‘Campaign for a GMO Free Poland’ as well as leading a high-profile defence of peasant farmers whom he holds-up as the true guardians of biodiversity and quality food throughout the world. Regular listeners to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Farming To Day’ will have heard Julian’s 2007 monthly “Letters from Poland” passionately highlighting the crisis provoked by forcing ‘corporate globalisation’ onto traditional family farming communities.
Julian has recently completed a book “Changing Course for Life-Local Solutions to Global Problems” (www.changingcourseforlife.info) in which he draws together all the threads of his highly diverse life experiences and, in a multidimensional vision of the future, calls for an uncompromising commitment to dynamic, decentralised community leadership as the chief vehicle for overcoming the dominant and life-threatening Orwellian collusion between corporate greed and political ineptitude.