When asked what farming is for, one response might be to produce food to keep us healthy. While there is increasing evidence of the wider health and wellbeing benefits of time spent in the natural environment, sadly, current government policy doesn’t yet make the link between human health and agriculture. However, recent research by the Food Research Collaboration (FRC) demonstrates that many farmers themselves see health as a key part of what they do, balancing this against other priorities.
The FRC, based at the Centre for Food Policy at City University, focuses on the goal of achieving a more integrated and inclusive food system. Their new report, ‘Voices from the field: Can farmers champion health?’ features interviews with a wide range of farmers including Mark and Marina O’Connell from the BDLT’s Huxhams Cross Farm in Devon. Mark and Marina have championed health from the outset, integrating therapy for young people and families via the Apricot Centre CIC on the 34-acre mixed biodynamic farm which was designed using permaculture methodology.
The FRC’s report was produced in collaboration with the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission whose final report ‘Our Future in the Land’ is now available, alongside a companion ‘Field Guide to the Future’ which features case studies of good practice and change that is already happening around the country.
The Commission calls for radical change to make the UK food and farming system sustainable within 10 years and makes 15 recommendations across three areas:
- Healthy food is every body’s business
- Farming is a force for change, unleashing a fourth agricultural revolution driven by public values
- A countryside that works for all, and rural communities are a powerhouse for a fair and green economy.
All of these themes and the emphasis on an agro-ecological approach will chime with biodynamic practitioners and BDLT supporters. The benefits of producing healthy food have long been recognised by biodynamic farmers and growers, and the challenges of access to land highlighted in the report was one of the motivations for the founding of the BDLT.
The report has been welcomed across the political spectrum and is a great opportunity to champion the health and wellbeing benefits of a biodynamic approach and highlight the need for more land to be farmed in this way.
Operations Manager, BDLT