Mary Langman

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Biographical Information

Mary Langman, who has died at the age of 95 in 2004 "was a pivotal contributor to the development of the wholefood and organic movement in Britain. An organic farmer in Kent, a founder member of the Soil Association and a founding shareholder of the pioneering Wholefood shop in London, she also had an international perspective, and worked tirelessly to bring together organisations in various countries under the umbrella of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (Ifoam)...

"Her primary interest, from the early 1930s, was the Pioneer Health Centre, in Peckham, south London. This groundbreaking initiative, known as the Peckham Experiment, had been established by Dr George Scott Williamson and Dr Innes Pearse in 1926 as a family club and health centre, but it was also a research laboratory for the investigation of human health. During its two most active working periods, from 1935-39 and 1946-50, Mary was secretary to the director, Scott Wilkinson... When the Peckham centre closed, Mary took on Oakley Farm, in Bromley, Kent, which had provided the centre with fresh, compost-grown vegetables, to keep it going during what was hoped would be only a temporary closure. With no agricultural training, it must have been daunting to find herself as the tenant of a 125-acre organic farm. But with characteristic application, and support from her staff, she ran the farm until 1976, selling her vegetables in the embryonic organic market in London.

"In the mid-1960s, along with such figures as Yehudi Menuhin, Mary helped to establish Wholefood of Baker Street, the first and most famous shop for whole and organic foods in London... She continued to be actively involved with the development of organic standards until the mid 1980s through membership of the Soil Association standards committee, and she maintained a close involvement with the Wholefood shop and the Wholefood Trust, its educational offshoot... In 1994, Mary was awarded an MBE for services to organic farming, and, in 1996, she received a lifetime achievement award from the international organic movement." [1]


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  1. Mary Langman, organizational web page, accessed January 6, 2013.