Synergy between Loaf and Mill Farm

In our May Newsletter we wrote about Loaf – a community bakery with an environmental conscience

We return to it to show how human connections can significantly change the way we live and produce.

Loaf’s Members visited Mill Farm near Worcester, which the owner Jonathan has been farming for over 50 years. But in the last few years he’s had to radically rethink how he approaches farming.

The farm, inspired by the work of the South West Grain Network supported by Loaf, started growing heritage wheat varieties. The main aim is to re-imagine the food system where small-scale regenerative farming systems are producing nutrient-rich, tasty food in healthy soils, re-building short supply chains, and a new grain economy that is full of personality and traceability.

One way to keep a farm alive is to get clever, creating a sustainable environment for better crops to grow without exhausting the land — from crop rotation to conserve the land, to wild flower areas to encourage pollinators, to making big decisions about what to grow and what to not grow. Mill Farm has won awards (Winner of the Soil category – Champion of the Farmed Environment) for its conservation efforts and for having mindfully chosen to invest in the land, protecting the environment, and conserving it for the future.

It was inevitable that Loaf and Mill Farm, sharing the same principles, would establish close links that go way beyond simple economic interests. Both desire a great product that honours the grain and the land it grew on.


The soil – a solution for the climate crisis as well (UK)

We need solutions and positive signs. It is hard for soil researchers and farmers to convey their knowledge to the general public. A non-farmer has succeeded! Josh Toussaint-Strauss, a journalist at the Guardian, explains the soil “problem” in a 7 minute video released in July 2019. The video briefly mentions definitions and problems, but it also provides possible solutions and opportunities. At a time of pandemic and negativity it is a pleasure to see that maybe we can succeed.

The video, available only in English, deserves to be shown and explained to children, even little ones.

Having seen the video, it is much easier to understand the call to action of the Sustainable Soils Alliance – UK, which identifies 8 policy points that governments should follow in order to leave healthy soils for the coming generations. These are the titles; the full call to action is attached below.

  1. Long-term strategy, 2. Economic impact, 3. Monitoring, 4. Measures to promote practical and financial incentives, 5. Pollutant reduction, 6. Innovation & Tools, 7. Education & Training, 8. Collaboration.



Suggestions for changing behavior. Improving the energy efficiency of factories

The technology exists to enable small, medium and large factories to become energy-independent and self-sufficient. It is therefore a question of making this simple request obligatory.

Until now those involved have resisted, with reason, justifying this by the high cost of transforming these places. With targeted subsidies and the current programmes of incentives planned by the EU, among others, these objections fall away. The public incentives placed at their disposal can be recouped through the savings in energy costs that the industrial structures will benefit from. In addition the industrial buildings, once covered with solar panels and appropriate wind turbines  (there are already turbines just a few metres tall with many “sails”), will be able to put an end to the occupation of fertile soil and land that is currently and shamefully covered with panels and turbines. We often fail to take into account the soil consumption in the areas needed to build this infrastructure and the means of access to it.


From Theory to Practice in Amsterdam. Using the Doughnut Economy

Kate Raworth is a British economist, a Senior Research Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. In 2017 she wrote “Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist”, considered an innovative alternative to the present economy that does not consider the limits of growth and can become the model for how to rebuild cities in a post-COVID-19 context.

Briefly this is what Raworth’s proposed economy consists of:

The outer ring of the doughnut is the ecological limit drawn by scientists and indicates the extreme points that must not be exceeded to avoid damaging the climate, soil, oceans, the ozone layer, fresh water and abundant biodiversity.

The inner ring of the doughnut collects the necessities for the life of every human being (food, shelter, health, education, work, information, travel, community, etc…).

Between the two rings is the area to meet the needs of all human beings and the planet.

Seven principles then, here they are: 1. Change the goal 2. Tell a new story 3. Nurture human nature 4. Get savvy with systems 5. Design to redistribute 6. Create to regenerate and finally, 7. Be agnostic about growth.

Continua a leggere “From Theory to Practice in Amsterdam. Using the Doughnut Economy”

The EU machine has started to move

Lockdown has accelerated the preparation of the EC’s documents for the Green Deal for Europe. The picture is a complicated one, sometimes inspiring, frequently contradictory. We list below the documents that in our view are worth reading.

  1. Biodiversity EU Strategy for 2030, Contains a whole section on the soil and its importance. Prepares the ground for a specific soil directive by the end of 2021.
  2. From Farm to Fork, It tries to bring agreement between everyone, which is impossible, but it at least has the merit of indicating limits and precise objectives to be achieved by 2030.
  3. Analysis of links between CAP Reform and the Green Deal The whole thrust is to stress that the current proposed CAP is in line with the Green Deal. Pie in the sky, lies or ambiguity?
  4. European Climate Law To be dealt with in depth and in detail.
  5. Taxonomy: Final report of the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance Doorstop of around 700 pages, needed to understand the what and the how of financing the Green Deal.

Everyone understands that we can’t go back to the “normality” of the time before COVID-19. So we need to make sure we follow the discussions around these documents and others that will follow so that we can contribute to improve and redefine them. There is urgent need for a common commitment to involve everyone who has an interest in this in order to obtain a European framework for protecting the soil.  The SIP Forum must be actively engaged in this struggle.


International Forum on Food & Nutrition

Many people are familiar with Barilla products. They can be found in many countries, and not just in Europe. Not many know of the existence of the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN), which has been organizing meetings and producing analyses on food and food sustainability since 2009.

Why are we talking about this in this section dedicated to the soil and European institutions?

On last 6 June, the BCFN organized the International Forum on Food & Nutrition in Brussels. The event consisted of a succession of presentations, round tables and debates throughout the day that featured researchers, European political officials (including the current European Commissioner for Agriculture), a number of MEPs (the debate on immigration between 5 members of the European Parliament was particularly interesting), entrepreneurs, representatives of civil society and international organizations and finishing off with an address from the singer and poet Bob Geldof. Continua a leggere “International Forum on Food & Nutrition”


4 per 1000 initiative: Closed-door workshop with potential investors

Last 8 February, the Nature Conservancy, Cornell University and the 4 per 1000 Initiative organised a joint workshop, hosted by the Hoffman Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy. This invitation-only event explored the potential creation of synergies in terms of investment and action on soil organic carbon storage and sequestration. It sought to better understand the results of scientific studies on soil organic carbon to feed into the decision-making processes of the various public and private economic sectors.

This event followed the Chatham House rules, whereby participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker, nor that of any participant may be revealed. Only the final document, summarising the debate, is made publicly available. Continua a leggere “4 per 1000 initiative: Closed-door workshop with potential investors”


Soil Association – Scotland

Ideas we may find original have often already been thought of. This is the case of Soil Association in Scotland. Looking at the name you may assume this is the “usual” group consisting of soil scientists or researchers, it is actually a group which lobbies for healthy food coming from sustainable use of soil and agriculture. Born in 1946, it is made to counter the changes taking place in the rural and agricultural world, currently under pressure from intensive agricultural and food production.

The Soil Association entirely patrols its trading subsidiary, the Soil Association Certification Limited, the largest organic certification body in the UK. This is managed in the manner of a non-profit organization, which aside from partly supporting the Soil Association strategy, generates funds which are then re-used within the Association’s wider scope. Within the framework is also the Soil Association Land Trust, a charity established especially to acquire and maintain farmland sustainably and to connect the public with land stewardship. Continua a leggere “Soil Association – Scotland”