What does food mean to you?
The cultural aspect of food plays an important role in diet. The National Food Strategy: Part One report published in July notes that in the UK we do not put as high a value on food and cooking as our continental neighbours. However, it indicates that the recent lockdown restrictions did see a growth in people buying local and cooking food from scratch. The report highlights the connection between diet and health. We need to take urgent steps to ensure that children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are well nourished.
It’s not just about peoples’ health though. The health of the planet is also suffering from our approach to food. WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020, published in September, highlights the serious decline in species numbers and soil health that unsustainable agricultural practices have had across the world. The report points out that biodiversity is fundamental to human life on Earth. It also indicates agriculture’s potential role in the recovery of species and ecosystems.
BETTER FOR THE PLANET
Enhancing and improving biodiversity is a key part of biodynamic farming. There is a certification requirement to maintain an area of biodiversity reserve within a holding. Studies have also demonstrated that soils farmed biodynamically store more carbon than those managed conventionally. They also are better for biodiversity. They can therefore play a role in mitigating climate change. With an emphasis on quality produce for health and vitality, biodynamics can play a positive cultural role too. This means that, from a number of perspectives, biodynamic land is very much a part of an agroecological regenerative solution for a healthier planet and people.
However, in 2019 statistics show that in the UK only 2.9% of agricultural holdings were farmed organically. Biodynamic Association Certification statistics indicate that, of these, only 1% were farmed biodynamically. As the UK adjusts to the impacts of Covid-19 and the end of the EU transition period in December, we have an opportunity to change our approach to food and farming and establish a local food culture.
To increase the reality of local food systems for a greater number of people and for the next generation, we need to secure more land for organic biodynamic food growing. Securing land in parcels for horticulture and small mixed farms is vital to feed more people with locally grown health-supporting food.
However, securing land does not necessarily mean we have to buy it. We can also negotiate Farm Business Tenancies of suitable duration. This can make it worth putting in the hard work that is conversion from chemical farming to living soil and landscape.
The Land Trust can secure land in agreements where soil and nature is cared for rather than treated as an industrial adjunct to make profit. We call this stewardship. We want to create positive agreements with landlords across the UK. These would be for food, for soil life, for living landscapes, rural livelihoods and engaged communities.
There can be many sorts of stewardship agreements. They can all be aspects or main aims of a food growing tenancy. For example stewardship for:
- Conservation – to support, increase and conserve nature on the site while growing food;
- Carbon Neutral – to farm so that more carbon is sequestered than is used in the farming; very possible with regenerative biodynamic practice;
- Soil and water – to re-enliven soil, include more organic matter to reduce water run-off and put in other systems that care for the water on the land.
If you are interested, please contact us.
The Land Trust is currently seeking funding to engage a development worker to help us support more projects. With a focus on the production and supply of local food these will benefit the health and wellbeing of people and the natural world. Such projects also provide an opportunity to encourage better food literacy. They highlight the connection between a flourishing ecosystem and quality produce, and develop a local food culture. In other words, stewardship for planet-friendly farming.