At an extraordinary time across the world, one thing is certain- food still needs to be grown and as a nation we have a farming profession that is more than capable of doing this exceptionally well. Resilience is second nature to an industry that routinely weathers economic, environmental and social upheavals. For nearly 30 years, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) has been supporting progressive, visionary farmers to move towards more sustainable farming through Integrated Farm Management (IFM).
A new high of 43% of UK fruit and vegetables were grown by LEAF Marque certified businesses in 2019. Globally, we work in 27 countries which represents a global hectarage of nearly 360,000ha, covering 147 different crop types and livestock classes. Will this evidencing of best practice still matter in the post-Covid landscape? We believe more than ever that our work to drive forward more sustainable farming will be key, as the vulnerability of current systems of food production and distribution to labour and supply chain disruption has become painfully evident. LEAF Marque, built around the regenerative system of IFM, is without a doubt a powerful catalyst for change, supporting a food system which integrates the best of modern technology, tried and tested traditional methods and common sense thinking to take us forwards into a new world.
We are so pleased to be working with the growers in Penwith who are embracing the opportunity to be part of a project which embodies this approach. We now have two farms so far taking advantage of being involved in the PLP Horticulture Project and starting their journey towards LEAF Marque certification which certifies high standards of IFM. They are looking to join two existing LEAF Marque businesses already operating in the project and growing the potential for collaboration and demonstration to make the area ‘more than the sum of its parts’ as a beacon of excellence.
In a great example of joined up thinking, the PLP is offering use of its brand new Alstrong aerator to businesses which sign up to the project and take the first step to LEAF membership. What a great opportunity. Soil health is a key area of IFM and the capacity to reduce physical compaction using this tool can benefit the biological and chemical processes that facilitate the long-term structural integrity on which optimum yields and profitability depend.