The Royal Society for the Arts has presented it's final report on Food, Farming and the Countryside. It argues that "The actions we take in the next ten years, to stop ecosystems collapse, to recover and regenerate nature and to restore people’s health and wellbeing are now critical."
The report, Our Future in the Land, sets out radical and practical ways for policymakers, business and communities to respond to the challenges. There are three main areas addressed in the report, with recommendations for future policy in each:
- Healthy food is everybody’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
"Garden Organic welcomes the publication of the RSA Food Farming & Countryside Commission report, and endorses its recommendations," writes James Campbell, GO Chief Executive. "The emphasis on agroecology reinforces the need for organic practice, and engaging with the wider population who are increasingly aware and active of linked issues of climate change, global warming, obesity and animal welfare. The need to increase organic practice in domestic growing and gardening, as well as in purchasing decisions, is the message Garden Organic has been actively promoting for more than 60 years."
Campbell highlights particular areas of the the report:
- The Executive summary, which says a variety of people are responding – shareholders and schoolchildren, farms and food businesses, and in communities all around the UK. Campbell says "Garden Organic has long been in the vanguard of engaging, educating, supporting and encouraging individuals and groups across the UK to embrace more sustainable and organic approaches to food growing – with marked successes."
- In Healthy food is everybody’s business there is a recommendation to “committing to grow the UK supply of fruit, vegetables, nuts and pulses……”. Garden Organic strongly supports this recommendation, and the ability of domestic growers to contribute to this target – more than half of vegetable and fruit growers wish to grow more sustainably and Garden Organic is uniquely placed to provide expert advice, backed by scientific research, to enable the widespread adoption of organic practice by domestic growers.
- The report calls for “A clear ambition shared by government and industry to increase the share of UK grown fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains and sustainable UK livestock.” Garden Organic supports and endorses this ambition, and has the knowledge, experience and networks to engage domestic and not-for-profit groups to contribute to this ambition through tried-and-tested projects, activities and programmes.
- It also recommends the practice of public procurement in Denmark where “Copenhagen has transformed its public procurement and its local supply chains by setting targets for organic purchasing and now 72 percent of all food on Copenhagen’s public plates comes from organic producers” Garden Organic, with its experience as a partner in the Food for Life initiative, strongly supports this ambition to address public health through public procurement.
- On pesticides and antibiotics, Garden Organic supports the recommendation of more stringent controls and urges actions to increase regulation (rather than current proposals to decrease controls.)
And finally, the report says “We are persuaded that the principles of agroecology best sum up how farming will need to change globally to address the challenges and opportunities .... Agroecology means farming in ways that learn from, work with, and enhance natural systems. Integrated pest management, organic farming, conservation and regenerative agriculture, and agroforestry are all examples.” Garden Organic strongly supports the recommendation of these principles, and the endorsement of organic practice as a goal.