This post was researched and written by Holly Rose. She is a writer, blogger, environmentalist, and Kiss The Ground accredited soil advocate. She writes about regenerative agriculture, sacred ecology, and rewilding on her blog HollyRose.eco / Instagram @hollyrose.eco
Behind a veil of clever marketing, and beyond the pristine shelves of our supermarkets, lies a monster that controls our food, and with it the health and vitality of all the Earth’s ecosystems.
This monster is industrialised agriculture. Feeding off fossil fuels, spewing out agrochemicals, destroying soil, water and biodiversity. Poisoning every living being it touches, from seed-to-table and back again.
While the agricultural industry in the UK has committed to reaching net-zero by 2040, there are a number of political and systemic changes that need to be made to support farmers’ transition towards sustainable carbon farming methods.
To tackle these needs, The Green Party has worked hard to create policy proposals which build regenerative food systems and honour food sovereignty through agroecological farming practices.
To understand the solutions gathered, we must first understand the problems we face.
Farming contributes to climate breakdown
Conventional farming of both animals and plants contributes to global heating and ocean acidification by displacing carbon dioxide from the soil.
When CO2 is safely stored inside soil, it supports life, but with the practices of industrialised agriculture, carbon is released from the soil and forced into the atmosphere and oceans, where it causes harm and takes lives.
Green Party Solutions
The Green Party has a ten-year plan to support farmers in their transition towards agroecological farming, including agroforestry and rewilding.
What is agroecological farming?
In one teaspoon of soil, there are more lifeforms than there are humans on earth. CO2 and water stored in healthy soil feeds those lifeforms, who keep our soil alive. Healthy lifeforms in soil help plants access minerals and nutrients and, in return, plants pump CO2 into the ground to feed them in a harmonious exchange. The healthier the soil, the more CO2 plants take in through photosynthesis to pass to the life forms below ground, and the more nutrients are passed back to the plant. This results in more carbon stored below ground, more nutrient-rich foods, and plants with healthier ‘immune systems’ that are more able to fight off pests without the need for synthetic pesticides (this is why plants in the wild don’t rely on pesticides to grow).
Without healthy soil, we can’t grow food and nature can’t thrive.
Agorecological farming is designed to protect this soil life while ensuring plants, animals, humans, wildlife, and the environment can thrive within an agricultural system. This type of farming also reverses the effects of climate breakdown and global heating by keeping carbon out of our atmospheres and oceans, and inside soil instead.
Because each ecosystem and soil type is unique, there is no single method of Agroecology that works everywhere. Instead, it’s an umbrella term for many diverse practices which regenerate our soil. Each offered through wisdom passed down through traditional and Indigenous Ecological Knowledge.
Some of the main themes include:
- not tilling the land
- planting diverse cover crops and perennials
- holistically mob grazing native animals
- planting tree crops alongside food crops (agroforestry)
- crop rotations (which eliminate monocultures)
- banning pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and synthetic fertilisers
The amazing thing about Agroecology is that its principles can be practised in spaces as small as a plant pot, or as big as a farm, offering food sovereignty for all.
What is food sovereignty?
Food sovereignty should be considered a fundamental human right. It is the belief that everyone should have access to healthy, culturally appropriate food, produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods in the country they live in, and the countries they import food from.
One of the major problems with industrialised agriculture is that it can only function in a position of supremacy over the planet, and the lives of those who cultivate food within its systems.
This creates cheap food, by subsidising farms that do the most harm. Hiding the ‘true cost’ associated with human, animal, climate and environmental rights, as well as health effects caused by the degenerative practices forced on them.
This degenerative farming system creates other issues as well. What many people don’t realise is that the UK imports nearly 80% of its food, drawing ingredients and food from around 20 million ‘ghost hectares’.
These ‘ghost hectares’ are made up of vast swaths of other people’s land. Their cultivation comes at a great cost to the communities they stem from, and the health of those who bring each ingredient from seed to harvest. What’s important to recognise is that ‘Ghost acres’ are an extension of colonialism, and an act of environmental racism, contributing to food poverty in these places.
Green Party solutions
By transferring agricultural subsidies away from degenerative industrial farms and towards small-scale agroecological farms, we can support farmers already practising these methods, while helping other farmers transition to more sustainable, diverse and environmentally friendly forms of land use.
This means that the public funds currently being spent on ‘bad’ industrialised agriculture, will be spent instead on projects and people which create jobs, restore ecosystem health, tackle food poverty, preserve local culture, and provide fresher, healthier seasonal food for everyone.
To complement this transformation of the countryside, The Green Party also holds plans to encourage localised community food initiatives and urban food growing which can be cultivated in diverse spaces including community and public gardens, private gardens, parks, allotments, and orchards, on living green roofs and walls, through foraging projects, and through school gardens, putting land and food back in each community’s hands.
But to make this plan a reality, each one of us must get involved and offer support in whatever ways we can.
Five ways to support regenerative food systems
- SHARE this info with friends and family.
- SUPPORT local farmers by purchasing local seasonal foods from farmer’s markets and food boxes (if you can).
- VOLUNTEER with a local community food project where you live.
- VOTE GREEN in the Local Elections on May 7th – without Greens in local seats, it is impossible for their food sovereignty plan to take root.
Most importantly, you can also choose to give £20 for 2020 here, to help raise £50k to create regenerative food systems across the UK
The Green Party relies on small grassroots donations. They don’t take funding from degenerative corporations (every other party does), so anything you can give will help!