How productive is your holding? “A Matter of Scale” is a survey of the productivity of small-farms being carried out by the Landworkers’ Alliance in conjunction with Coventry University, until April 26th. We invite anyone earning at least part of their livelihood from 20ha (50 acres) or less, as opposed to farming purely for subsistence, to take part. A link to the online questionnaire can be found here

To here a little about the survey click here for a short video.

Here are six good reasons for taking part in the survey:

Squash on trailer

  • Help the LWA to overcome the obstacles facing land-workers – Research in developing countries shows an inverse relationship between productivity and scale, yet nobody seems to have carried out research into the productivity of small holdings in the UK. While we all know that small farms are about so much more than pure productivity, when arguing that they have a role to play in the future food security of the UK, the amount of food (and other goods) they can produce is clearly a factor. This lack of data limits the ability of the Landworkers’ Alliance to campaign effectively for better support for this sector from DEFRA.
  • Make small farms visible – Current agricultural policy ignores small farms as irrellevant, hobby farms. The data we collect will, for the first time, provide a clear picture of the range of small scale farms in operation and who is running them (ie young/old/male/female/new entrants/people from farming families). But only if people take part!
  • Help others to get planning permission for agricultural workers’ dwellings – Planning officers usually believe that a large acreage is needed for a farm business to be viable. A source of academically robust data on the productivity and other advantages of small farms could be quoted in planning applications, agricultural appraisals and appeals.
  • Evaluate the recent performance of your own farm – Please feel free to print off a completed copy of the questionnaire if it is helpful.
  • You might win a short break worth £250 with Organic Farm Holidays ( or one of five Opinel pocket knives if you submit a questionnaire. The first 30 questionnaires returned will also get an Opinel No.7 pocket knife.
  • Even if you don’t feel your farm is very productive, it would be helpful for us to understand the barriers that prevent it from becoming more productive.

Please don’t be daunted by the length of the survey! Unless you operate a highly diverse farm, you will not have to fill in many of the tables, which are the time-consuming part. If your farm is highly diverse, however, we are particularly keen for you to take part, so that we can explore the relative productivity of diverse farms with those that operate monoculture.

We would be grateful if you would return the completed questionnaire by Sunday 26th April. I will send out a reminder closer to the time. After analysing the results, in the next phase of the research we would like to visit some of the highest yielding holdings/market gardens and conduct interviews to find out how they manage to be so productive The final stage of the study will be a skill sharing event, to which all those who submit the questionnaire will be invited. At this event, the results of the survey and the interviews will be shared (in a form which does not allow individuals to be identified) and all who have submitted a questionnaire will be invited to share their tips and observations for increasing productivity in enterprise themed workshops. We hope this will be a helpful and inspiring event. If you only wish to take part in the survey, however, then your contribution will still be very welcome. So please, do something really helpful for future of small-farms, and for the Landworkers’ Alliance today. Your time contribution and knowledge would be greatly appreciated.

If you have any queries about this research, please contact Rebecca Laughton at