charity no 1061607
“A new breed of sustainable farmers is emerging . . . These new farmers have a different vision of the future of agriculture and a fundamentally different approach to farm management.
These farmers may call themselves organic, ecological, holistic, or biodynamic; they may market their products as natural, organic, GMO-free, grass-based, hormone & antibiotic free, humane, or local; or choose any number of descriptions that distinguish them and their products from the mainstream food system. Regardless of what they are called or what they sell, their success is defined by their ability to distinguish themselves from the unsustainable mainstream food system by producing foods with ecological, social, and economic integrity.”
Professor John Ikerd
The Economics of Sustainable Farming (2011)
FUNDING ENLIGHTENED AGRICULTURE
Funding Enlightened Agriculture ( FEA) is a working group comprising food and farming activists, social entrepreneurs and a wide range of funders (philanthropic, local authority, social finance, ethical investors, crowdfunding).
Over the next 15 months we plan to work with 8-10 enterprises, helping them structure their businesses, get themselves investment-ready, and set about raising the money they need. This will demonstrate how the wider aim of establishing a Fund for Enlightened
Agriculture will work -- funding and match-funding projects to get to scale or providing models for others to replicate; and assessing the Fund’s potential social impact. During this time we will also have obtained interest in the idea of the Fund from at least five potential financial contributors.
The “industrial” agriculture that is now promoted by Britain’s and other powerful governments -- high input, high tech, high capital, minimum labour, monocultural and large-scale -– is perceived to be necessary to feed the rising population (9.5 billion by
2050). But it is already failing (one billion of the present 7 billion are undernourished); it is unjust, fomenting righteous anger and unrest; and it is unsustainable – degrading soils, wasting and polluting fresh water, polluting the oceans, oil-dependent, and destroying forests and other natural environments and wildlife.
The fundamental problem is that agriculture is currently driven by economic dogma – the perceived need for an ultra-competitive, globalised market designed to maximise wealth. Instead we need farming that is expressly intended to produce good food and promote social justice with minimal damage to the environment – what has been called
“Enlightened Agriculture”. Much evidence shows that the farms that could meet these requirements should be polycultural (mixed, diverse); low-input (with organic as the
default position); therefore complex; therefore skills-intensive; and therefore (since there is little advantage in scale-up) typically small to medium-sized; the very opposite of the status quo. Of course, too, such farms need an appropriate infrastructure of distribution and retail, geared in particular to local delivery. Such farms and their markets already supply half the world’s food even though they are now being sidelined.
Aims and Objectives
FEA will support small enterprises in Britain in line with the goals of Enlightened
Agriculture: those that have the potential to increase agricultural output, adopt sustainable farming methods ( renewal, regeneration and responsiveness, resistance, resilience and redundancy) , create local supply chains, increase employment and engagement, revive local economies and bring other social benefits.
The potential for employment is tremendous: The principle of “Enlightened Agriculture” suggests that Britain now needs to increase farmer numbers from the present 160,000 to at least 500,000 and preferably to a million, and the corresponding food chain could usefully absorb at least a million more. The countryside would be transformed enormously for the better – with more people actively engaged but also with a far more varied and wildlife-friendly landscape.
In particular, we aim to focus on:
1 Small-scale dairying. Small, closely managed herds of traditional breeds can make far better use of small areas of land than the present, industrialised, large-scale units can, with far less capital investment. In addition to providing local employment and benefiting the local community, they can provide very high standards of welfare, and the freshest possible milk with a very favourable polyunsaturated fat ratio.
2 Pasture-feeding in general (preferably with trees).
Grass is Britain’s greatest crop by far – and we could be making far better use of it through dairying, suckler-beef, sheep, and even (to a great extent) pigs and poultry. The general advantages are as in 1 – plus the enormous contribution that natural pasture (especially with trees) makes to wildlife.
3 Agroforestry. Forestry and farming are often perceived to be in opposition. Yet there are tremendous potential synergies between the two and the growing, worldwide interest in “agroforestry” is one cause for encouragement. For Britain it is highly pertinent.
4 Horticulture. Horticulture has been sadly neglected in Britain. But it has the potential to produce the most food per unit area and to be a huge employer – and offers the principal route into larger-scale farming. We also need to extend the range of horticulture, into staple crops – tubers, pulses, and even small-scale cereals.
5 Small-scale arable. Arable farming has become the exclusive domain of the largescale industrial farmer (the “grain-baron”). But there are many advantages in smallscale – even horticultural-scale -- cereal-growing which should be encouraged.
6 On-farm artisinal processing. Artisinal processing – traditional baking, brewing, charcuterie etc – is the acceptable face of “value adding”. We seek in particular to encourage on-farm, or closely-linked enterprises that can make the difference between economic success and failure.
7 On the grander scale, in conjunction with CPRE and the National Trust, we aim to
develop new mechanisms (financial and legal) to help new entrants gain access to agricultural land. In particular, in the immediate term, we will focus on rescuing the remaining county farms/smallholdings.
How FEA will Work
We will help new enterprises all along the food chain: provide advice when necessary on how to structure their business; arrange or help them to attract finance; and in general to establish systems that can be replicated, or indeed franchised. Indeed we have already begun. Thus at one end of the food chain we have already provided help for a group developing new strains of non-GM blight-resistant potatoes; we are beginning to work with a small dairy-enterprise in Hampshire – which incorporates a mobile milking parlour of a kind that would be a boon for micro-dairies everywhere; and with a
“people’s supermarket” that is delivering local food in Brighton. Mainly, however, we will focus on production -- growing and farming enterprises. This raises the greatest and most urgent problems. Key to this, too, is to foster links between farmers and their local communities.
Our approach to funding is, we believe, unique. Thus we will be seeking to develop investment financing for these projects (in the form of grants, funds raised, loans and appropriate investment) in such a way that funding from several streams can be mixed and matched so as to generate the funds needed whilst meeting the requirements of each particular funder.
Principal Project Advisers
Olivia graduated from Manchester University in 1997, and has worked with Gaeia since
1999. It was always her goal to work within an ethical organisation, and she became a director in 2008. Gaeia and Olivia have won and been short-listed for various awards over the years -- including Top 100 Advisers by New Model Adviser/Citywire; Unbiased’s
Responsible Investment Adviser Runner-up. Olivia advises on all aspects of financial planning, advising Businesses, Charities and Individuals, and is working towards further
Advanced qualifications, with the aim of becoming Chartered.
Elizabeth is an Investment director at Rathbones and Chartered Fellow of the Chartered
Institute of Securities and Investment. She is responsible for the management of private client and trustee ethical investment portfolios, with special interest in the development of social enterprise investment. Elizabeth began her career at Laing &
Cruickshank Investment Management in 1987 after graduating from the University of
Bristol. She moved to Albert E Sharp Investment Management where she launched the
UK’s first tailor made investment service for private clients, trustees and charities in
1992. Elizabeth moved to Rathbones in 1997 where she and her team established an ethical investment service, which they developed into Rathbone Greenbank Investments
(specialist ethical investment unit of Rathbones) in 2004. She served as head of
Rathbone Greenbank Investments from 2004 to 2009 and has been involved in shareholder engagement throughout her career in socially responsible investment.
Jamie is Managing Director of Ethex. He describes himself as “a life-long social entrepreneur specialising in businesses with social or environmental objectives. . with substantial board experience as both non-executive and executive director”. His latest venture is Ethex: an investment platform that makes it easy for individuals to channel investment into the social business sector. Ethex and FEA may well collaborate on projects once they have passed the start-up stage.
Michael founded the Directory of Social Change in 1975 and was its Director until 1995.
He co-founded Changemakers in 1994 to find new ways of engaging young people in social action, and was its Executive Chair until 2001. In 1998 he founded YouthBank UK to enable young people to act as grant-makers, supporting local projects run by other young people. He co-founded UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs; and in
2011, he was made an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate School of Business at the
University of Cape Town to assist in the creation of the Bertha Centre for Social
Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He was also made Philanthropy Instructor at Beijing
Colin is a biologist by education and a writer by trade. During his times at Farmers
Weekly and New Scientist, BBC Radio 3 he was able to look at farming and agricultural research in dozens of countries in all the habitable continents. In the 1980s, he wrote scientific reports for the old Agricultural and Food Research Council, and so visited virtually all the original AFRC research stations. He attended the first World Food
Conference in Rome in 1974 and there realised that the world’s food problems were not caused by lack of resources or the foolishness of farmers but by misguided policy and inappropriate technologies. His books on food and farming include: The Famine Business
(1977), So Shall We Reap (2003) and most recently, Good Food for Everyone Forever
Ruth West (Trustee and project manager)
Ruth has worked with grassroots groups -- as a community worker in London’s east end, a farmers’ market manager; and in international fora -- in advocacy work at the UN on indigenous, environment and health issues, and as a consultant to WHO, UNEP, and the
Commonwealth Secretariat. She has managed projects at regional and international levels: as a member of the United Nations Environment and Development UK Executive
Committee (along with Fiona Reynolds, Jonathan Porritt), she worked with an alliance of indigenous peoples’ organisations to raise funds for the indigenous village in Rio at the first Earth Summit; and subsequently was in charge of organising European NGO participation in the WHO/Euro Ministerial Meeting on Environment and Health. It was work with First Nations People in Belem that first brought the world of social enterprise to her attention.
Advisors will include: i) Business planning and the enterprise model:
A network of successful social entrepreneurs including Jamie Hartzell; Michael Norton;
Tim Crabtree, Wessex Reinvestment Trust Group. ii) Investment readiness advice: Lennart Hergel, UnLtd Ventures.
iii) Technical advice on replication and franchising: Dan Berelowitz, International Centre for Social Franchising. iv) Legal advice: Stephen Lloyd, Bates Wells & Braithwaite, v) Investment readiness for social finance: Ian Price, Triodos; Azlina Bulmer, Charity
Bank vi) Community shares and cooperatives: Simon Borkin, Community Shares Unit, Coops
UK; Jim Brown, Baker Brown; Martin Large, Biodynamic Land Trust & Ecodynamic
Community Benefit Society Ltd; Jennifer Smith, Mike Perry, Plunkett Foundation. vii) Angel and ethical investment: Olivia Bowen, Brigid Benson, Gaeia; Elizabeth Haigh,
Rathbones Greenbank Investment. viii) Crowdfunding and fundraising: Michael Norton, Buzzbnk. ix) Tax advice: Gerry Jackson, Critchleys. x) Land tenancies, partnerships, community land: Mark Charter, Blake Lapthorn; Tom
Curtis, LandShare CIC; Jeremy Iles, Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens
(community land advisory service and growing together).
xi) Land Trusts: Martin Large, Biodynamic Land Trust; David Riddle, Soil Association
Land Trust. xii) Farming: a network of advisers (farmers and scientists) from around the country on whom we can draw