As highlighted in our previous blog, the Covid-19 restrictions have exposed the limitations of our current food system with its long supply chains. The changes implemented at Huxhams Cross Farm in Devon with a shift from market or on farm sales to delivery have been echoed around the country. For example, Tablehurst Farm in Sussex, home to the Land Trust’s Brambletye Fields, has added a delivery service for key workers and self-isolators. Stroud Micro Dairy at Oakbrook Community Farm in Stroud has also introduced a home delivery service for its raw milk and kefir.
Many farmers and growers face challenges at opposite ends of the spectrum, from overwhelming demand to complete loss of sales. Innovation and inspirational adaptation have been at the fore. The supply (or lack of) food has become a high profile issue. The question now is how would we would like our food and farming systems to look?
Although public attention may shift once restrictions are lifted, as attention begins to turn towards the future, there is an opportunity to maintain support for the production and supply of local food. Patrick Holden, Director of the Sustainable Food Trust, and the Land Trust’s Patron, has been among those calling for the focus to be on establishing resilient local food systems, with their resulting benefits for the health of people and the natural world.
community supported agriculture
Such systems would consist of many different elements but could include Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) schemes. These are a partnership between farmers and the community. The risks and rewards of farming are shared and community connection with the land is established. Stroud Micro Dairy is a variant of the CSA model but operates in a similar way. Many more farmers and growers have been exploring and introducing CSAs in response to the recent changes in demand. There is the potential for many more CSAs but energy and resources are required for their establishment. In Wales, Gareth Davies, a Town Councillor, has written an open letter to Community and Town Councils in Pembrokeshire asking them to create a CSA in their area.
While there are many challenges to establishing local resilient food systems, a new online resource for farmers and farm advocates explores four of these:
- Farmland Ownership and Preservation
- Land Use and Stewardship
- Community Building
- Succession Planning.
The Farms for Tomorrow website contains podcasts, farm case studies and farmer profiles from around the world, including biodynamic farms here in the UK. It aims to offer practical solutions to protecting family farms for the future. These are all issues on which the Land Trust is very much involved.
Farms for Tomorrow’s invitation to join the conversation on the future of farming is part of the broader discussion on establishing resilient local food systems in which we can all play a role.