Farm for the Future

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Rebecca Hosking’s filmA Farm for the Future– exposes the energy crisis lurking behind industrial food and farming – fossil fuels are running out and our food production systems have to change fast.

“This is really one of the best films I have ever seen on this topic,” said Peter Kindersley in praise of the very popular programme, “I have been telling everyone about it. This is very relevant to what we are trying to do at Sheepdrove.”

Shown as part of the BBC Natural World series, Rebecca faces up to the inconvenient truth that her family’s farm needs to take a new direction. She explores the reliance on oil by industrial farming and looks at the viable alternative, a more ecological agriculture.

Unmissable and available now on BBC iPlayer.

Rebecca made the point about our society’s addiction to fossil-fuelled food by identifying the oil in a sandwich. Here is clip from youtube.

 

 

 

If you have seen Peter Kindersley’s presentation about industrialised farming and food, you will have seen how he also attacks the dreadful supermarket sandwich clone to show how unhealthy it really is for people and the planet. Apart from the many unnecessary additives, what the label does not show is the ingredients added by chemical farming – herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and other sprays.

Peak Oil and Organic Farming

A Farm for the Future showed footage from the annual conference of The Soil Association, the leading UK organic body, which has campaigned strongly on the issue of Peak Oil.  During the 20th Century the plentiful supply of oil drove the whole basis of modernised farming – and with it the way we eat, what we eat, our attitude to the countryside and the natural world. Organic farming offers a solution that we can take now, to slow the drain on fuel resources and, in turn, reduce the impact on the environment from what we eat.

When you buy organic you show that you believe in one-planet farming. Organic is an important part of the shift we welcome, with a growing number of people getting into allotment growing, buying local, and recycling as if it matters. Organic methods use less oil, provide healthier food and make less impact on the environment.

Ecological agriculture and permaculture

Monoculture is the enemy of wildlife, health and sustainable food. Industrial style management forces the farmer to move into simplified systems looking for a ‘one size fits all’, rather than ecologically aware, approach to agriculture. Chemical fertilisers encourage fast nutrient release and kills soil life which normally regulates fertility. Weeds and sappy crops result from the nitrate flush which makes for weak growth and insect attack – and that leads farmers to spray chemicals to fight these problems.

Ecological farming leans towards harmony with natural ecosystems and permaculture takes this idea further – echoing permanent ecosystems with massive variety and natural balances. Minimal earth disturbance allows the soil ecosystem to develop into a healthy complex of microbes, fungi and plants. Permaculture is never about single crops. The permaculturist raises multi-structure plots, more often like woodland than open fields, with a higher productivity.

Sheepdrove for the future

Projects in renewable and alternative energy are a big part of what we are doing at Sheepdrove Organic Farm, on our journey towards becoming a truly sustainable farm. We also put a lot into helping wildlife because it benefits our organic farming, and we would love to find a way to drastically reduce our cultivations. 

“The forest floor is the ultimate soil,” as Peter Kindersley says, and the closer we can get the better. Less ploughing also means lower fuel demand. With diesel being a massive part of the farm’s Carbon Footprint, it is vital that we try to use less. Self-sufficiency in livestock feed is a big ambition, and towards this aim, permanent pasture could become a much larger part of the farm in future.

Have you seen the programme? Available now on BBC iPlayer.

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