About admin

I lead on the Cwm Harry Skills and training enterprise, am a qualified teacher and permaculture design tutor and garden designer and project consultant. I write several blogs and am an avid networker and communicator on the subjects of sustainability, transition and co-operatives. I have written an occasional column for Channel4/green and have worked for Channel 4 on their 'Dumped' seriesworked as well as for BBC Wales as a green advisor on their Changing Lives- Going Green series, Nov-Dec 2009. I have been working in sustainable development, on project management and development, teaching, growing and small business development all my life really. I also grew up living and working on farms and have a broad experience working in Britain and Canada and Zimbabwe on sustainable agriculture, grass roots permaculture projects, micro business development and housing and worker co-ops. I have been based in Wales since 1994 and currently live in the Welsh borders.

Thursday in Llanfyllin


Plant selection at the Cultivate nursery in Newtown.

After a 2 week break, as I have been away running a permaculture design course we are back at Cae Bodfach, the community field in Llanfyllin for Thursday volunteer sessions. We are usually parked in the bottom car park by 10 am and work on the community orchard until 1 pm. There is a little team of 3 or 4 of us each work, joined by whoever else might drop by.

Thanks to Seri from the Cultivate Nursery in Newtown who donated a mixture of perennial plants this week, which we planted along side the 35 or so fruit trees and 80+ support trees we have already planted.

Its a very informal affair.. people are welcome to drop by and join us on a Thursday morning, where we are scything grasses and mulching the trees as well as adding bee friendly pollinator plants, fruiting shrubs and herbs to the orchard.

I might remember to take my camera next week.. and I will add some shots of beautiful meadow down by the Cain river where we have planted the orchard.


Snap shot of Pen Dinas

Selection of images from the Pen Dinas horticulture centre for BBC researcher.








Our location in Newtown, next to the Hafren theatre and Newtown College

Our location in Newtown, next to the Hafren theatre and Newtown College

View of the Cultivate horticulture centre

View of the Cultivate horticulture centre

Support for Agro-forestry urgently required!


Growing crops and trees together can increase total yield by a factor of 1.4 according to research undertaken at the Wakelyns research farm.

Despite support from Europe and increasing evidence of the benefits of agroforestry Defra seems set against it. I would urge you to read the following from Stephen Briggs and write to your MP.  The more responses they get from farmers/growers that are practicing/ considering agroforestry the better, to counter the view that there is ‘no demand’ for an agroforestry option in England.


Dear Colleague

I am writing to ask for your support in lobbying your MP, or contacts you have in Defra, Natural England or the Forestry Commission to overturn a decision NOT TO ADOPT agroforestry measures in England which have been made available by the EU under article 23 of Pillar II of the CAP (2014-20) and to ensure that agroforestry is an option under the Eclological focus area Greening Measures in Pillar I.

Here is some text you might like to use in a letter to your MP

XXXXXXXXX Esq, MP                                                       Your Name & Address
House of Commons



We are XXXXXX of XXXXXX and have a strong interest in sustainable land management which is capable of delivering food, fuel and public goods.

I am writing to you to you to draw your attention to a crisis regarding the implementation of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Pillar I & II measures in England and the adoption of Agroforestry measures and options.

Agroforestry is  the practice of growing trees and crops and/or livestock on the same agricultural area for greater productivity.  The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development  has described Agroforestry as a “win–win” multifunctional land-use approach that balances the production of commodities with non-commodity outputs such as environmental protection, biodiversity opportunities, cultural and landscape amenities.

Agroforestry is one of the few options with the potential to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help protect natural resources whilst at the same time producing more food and biomass and one which is less reliant on greater use of oil based inputs to achieve greater productivity. Governments, farmers, landowners and the public alike need farming systems that are productive, protect natural resources and the environment, encourage greater biodiversity and are visually and socially acceptable.  The greater cropping diversity associated with agroforestry can also lead to greater local employment opportunities.

Agroforestry is increasing recognised as a practice which can meet the targets set for European agriculture. The EU has recently funded two major projects focused on agroforestry “AGFORWARD” (2014-2018) a new 20 partner European FP7 research and implementation project  and  “AGROFE” (2013-2015) a new European Leonardo framework project on improving education and training on Agroforestry.

The new CAP (2014-20) has recognized agroforestry in Pillar I as a valid ‘Ecological Focus Area’ option under the greening measures and there is provision under Pillar II article 23 to support the establishment and maintenance of agroforestry, via implemntation through the Rural Development Programme (RDP) in England.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are pursuing options to integrate agroforestry into regional policy and provide agroforestry options for farmers and landowners through either agricultural or forestry schemes.

The Government and Defra are proposing not to adopt these options in England, denying English farmers a valid and climate smart farming option which has recognition throughout the  EU and at the wider global scale.

There is an immediate danger that the merits of Agroforestry are not being understood by Government, DEFRA, Natural England and the Forestry Commission and that in an attempt to simplify policy delivery, agroforestry options in England will be ignored. This would be disastrous.

We urge you to lend your support to our efforts to persuade Owen Patterson and Lord de Mauley to implement the following ;

  • The adoption of CAP Pillar II Article 23 measures, making  agroforestry options available to English farmers.
  • The adoption of Agroforestry as an Ecological Focus Area (EFA) option in CAP pillar

This issue is of vital importance to me, my business and my rural community and I would very much appreciate an opportunity to discuss the predicament we face in a little more detail at some point in the near future.

Yours Sincerely



Whose up for the potato challenge?

potato heartI am going to propose we run a ‘Who can grow the most potatoes in the smallest area competition’.. along the lines of as illustrated below. Get in touch if you are up for the challenge, or want to help us run the competition.

Update: Lots of positive interest via Facebook. and thanks to Emma who sent in this lovely potato image. I will be consulting with colleagues and we will launching the challenge later next month (Feb). Watch this space!

Llanidloes community food garden

What’s cooking in the new Llanidloes community food garden?

Garden clearing team, Llanidloes

Garden clearing team, Llanidloes

Wiith lots of help from local volunteers. In association with the Llanidloes Scout Explorer group the Get Growing project has just been awarded £1000 from the Russell commission youth led grants scheme. This will fund the construction of a sunken seating area and a clay pizza oven to be built during a series of volunteer days and workshops over the next 2 months.

A 2 day workshop will be held 24th & 25th February to construct the clay oven, followed by a pizza party in March once the clay has hardened. These workshops are open to all ages with a particular emphasis on teaching new skills to Llanidloes young people.

Building a cob oven, one we done  earlier

Building a cob oven, here’s one we did earlier

During November RWE Renewables donated time and money to build terrace beds which Llanidloes Level 2 gardening students have now planted with fruit trees awarded by Powys County Council Nectar Tree Scheme. These trees have been grown locally by Gareth Davies of Old Chapel Nursery and will be trained as espaliers so that they do not cast shade over the neighbouring houses.

Emma Maxwell, lead horticulture tutor at Get-Growing visiting the Wakelyns organic rwsearch farm

Emma Maxwell, lead horticulture tutor at Get-Growing & cultivate visiting the Wakelyns agro-forestry research farm

Emma Maxwell local horticulturalist and trainer will be delivering a fruit tree pruning course on the 15th Feb 2014 for anyone who has their own orchard or is interested in growing fruit trees. Regular volunteers Rhys Williams and Brian Marsh have been busy on Mondays planting a bed of strawberries that were donated by local residents along with fruit bushes and other perennial food plants.

Space is available for micro allotments so that local people can have a go at growing food crops and enjoy the harvest for themselves.  These small plots can be amazingly productive and allow you to Get Growing without it becoming a chore. Now is the time to get busy preparing gardens for the coming year by building structures, planting perennial plants and planning your summer vegetable growing.  On Monday 27th January we will be launching the micro allotments and anyone interested in Getting Growing should join us at 11 O’clock for enrollments and a cup of tea.

Site for the new Llanidloes public growing space, before being cleared by the Get-Growing team and volunteers

Site for the new Llanidloes public growing space, before being cleared by the Get-Growing team and volunteers

Weather you have never gardened before or you have lots of experience there lots of fun to be had and always more to learn. Get involved in community growing or enroll on a course or workshop with the Cwm Harry Cultivate team and Get Growing.

If you have any plants you wish to donate, you want to get involved in volunteer or have your own micro allotment, please contact Emma Maxwell for more information: emmam@cwmharry.org.uk.

Forest gardens, compost and rainbows


Click to visit the course page for this one day event

Growing perennial plants like fruit trees and bushes although it demands thought and input at the point of establishment in general require much less on going maintenance than vegetable growing. So especially for growing projects in environments like schools, community spaces and the like forest gardens, that is mixes of trees, fruiting shrubs, herbs and vines have a very useful role to play.

The idea of the temperate forest garden was developed by pioneer Robert Hart, who had seen similar systems in Southern India where shade trees of coconuts, mango, tamarind and more were grown in amongst annual crops of rice an vegetables. In northerly latitudes such as here we are required to space plants much further apart as we have much lower light levels, but the principle still works well and it enables another layer of production to be stacked into growing systems, boosting productivity and biodiversity.

fg-plants Meanwhile, Emma and Seri on the Cultivate project here at Pen Dinas have been busy buying in plants to propagate which will be for our forest garden nursery, currently in development. There are a great many plants that suit the brief for forest gardens, however they are not always easy to get hold of.. so we are keen to develop our own supply. Lots of nurseries offer the top fruit but very few offer the under-story shrubs, bushes and herbaceous plants.

Rainbow over pen Dinas this afternoon

Rainbow over pen Dinas this afternoon

A great source to find out about these is the Plants for a Future database. The plants we bought in came from the Agro Forestry Research Trust, and nursery managed and owned by forest garden pioneer Martin Crawford.

One day compost course, a new offering from the Cwm Harry Skills department.

One day compost course, a new offering from the Cwm Harry Skills department.

Compost – the new black gold. Energy from waste is a buzz word in the world of sustainability and the best way to process waste is to turn it into compost. Nitrogen in manure and food waste quickly breaks down into ammonia and becomes a greenhouse gas, whereas once composted and incorporated into long chain complex organic molecules it becomes stable and much less mobile. Of course the composting process itelf generates a lot of heat and compost pioneer Jean Pain calculated via his experiments that composting can easily generate 10% more heat than combusting the same material, whilst of course leaving a useful residue in the form of compost that can be incorporated into soil to boost fertility, water and nutrient retention.

Of course Cwm Harry made its name via the food waste processing contract we had with Powys County Council and lead researcher Richard Northridge will be offering some of his experience on the one day Compost Masterclass we are offering on 1 Amrch at treflach farm, Oswestry

New year at Pen Dinas

Drainage trench across main growing field

Drainage trench across main growing field

We have had regualr problems with our drains at Pen Dinas so the time to replace the existing pipe has come around and it is very interesting to see a proper soil profile across the field. Makes us think we should have done this at the beginning, not only is there only about 2 or 3 inches of topsoil but there is also a huge amount of rubble, bricks etc under the turf of the field. Our choice to build up raised beds and hugl kultur type growing strategies turns out to be a good call as these thin soils would otherwise never produce any decent vegetables.

tweetWe kicked off the year with a trip to Jesus College Oxford for the Real Farmers conference, the parallel event that runs along side the mainstream farmers conference for smaller scale growers, organic and more community and environment orientated initiatives. There was lively debate across many topics and if you would like to pick up on any of the threads of discussion there was a lively conference presence on twitter. They also launched a manifesto for new agriculture.

Pic below taken at Pen Dinas in December is of a head of broccoli, and anyone who has studies permaculture or environmental design will recognise the Fibonacci patterns, I found myself gazing into this shape for ages.. fractal mathematics in nature.


Romanesque broccoli growing at Pen Dinas

training-day Finally I should mention the fantastic trainers and practitioners day we had on Dec 16th which brought together 25 local people from the Mid Wales region who are potentially interested in working with us on developing skills and training provision. An important new venture for Cwm Harry is to be the delivery courses and learning opportunities across the broad range of topic areas we are interested in, from waste management to organic growing, permaculture to green wood craft. There will be lots more on this soon as we are busy working on an extended courses programme for the coming year.

Here is a fundraiser visit from School Farm CSA in Devon, freinds of ours, who we bumped into the Real Farmers Conference who are running a really ambitious Community Supported Agriculture Project near Totnes.

Here is an impassioned speech on the potentials and importance of small scale farming and a relocalised and vibrabt local food economy and culture.

Written evidence on Food Security to the environment and rural affairs committee.

Authors. PJ Griffith BSc. MS, member of the Association of Independent Crop Consultants and TSW Jones BA. PGCE, director Sector39 partnership and CwmHarry. Both authors have an extensive knowledge of UK agriculture.


UK arable production is predominantly a monoculture based on cereals and specifically winter wheat. The lack of diversity in arable production places the UK farming sector at high risk to the impact of climate change. The intense weather conditions in 2012 turned the UK from a net exporter to net importer of wheat for the first time in over a decade. The HSBC Agriculture Forward Planning 2013 reveals that few farms would be profitable without the single farm payment. The current CAP reform gives the opportunity to directly fund agroecology systems. The World Bank and the UNCTAD report that agroecology systems are one of the best ways of developing resilience to food production in an increasingly unpredictable climate. Adoption of these practices within the UK with the emphasis on soil biota health and increased biodiversity should be an integral part of the National Adaptation Plan for Agriculture to climate change and food security.

  1. How secure is Britain’s food supply.

1.1.    UK land usage shows only 20% of the land area is attributed to crop production. Half the country is under some form of grass be that pasture or moorland. The percentage of land under urban use is almost the same as under woodland both being around 12% of the total UK land area. Only 1% of the UK is classified as fresh water.

1.2.    Half of the cropped area of the UK is under cereal production and of this wheat represents 60%. Therefore, a third of the UK cropped acreage is in one crop, wheat of which 44% is destined for animal feed.

1.3.    Over the last three years (2011 – 2013) 81% of the arable area of the UK has been in either cereals (66%) or oilseed rape (16%). Horticultural production of fruit and vegetables represents only 2% of arable land and of this 98% is grown outside.

1.4.    The fact that such a high proportion of the arable area of the UK is in either wheat or oilseed rape is a high risk strategy when it comes to food security.  A large proportion of the arable area is at risk from a breakdown in disease or pest control, either from weather conditions preventing timely applications of pesticides or of resistance developing to available products. Herbicide resistance is becoming a major factor in cereal production in areas where black-grass is endemic. Cereal disease resistance to the fungicides is well documented with the strobilurons no longer effective against Septoria tritici, a major fungal disease of winter wheat and triazoles also showing reduce activity. In the autumn of 2012 the wet conditions were perfect for the build up of slugs in winter crops which became almost impossible to control with existing moluscicides.

1.5.    The weather conditions in 2012 exemplified the vulnerability of UK agriculture with the current dependence on winter crop production. The harvest of 2012 after a dull, wet and cool growing season saw average yields drop from 7.8 tonnes/ hectare to 6.7 t/ha, a drop of 14 percent on the five year average . Yield losses were also attributable to an outbreak of Fusarium ear blight in the UK wheat crop. A report by Fera showed that nationally the non-toxin producing Microdochium species (M. nivale and M. majus) were responsible for the majority of symptoms; with 93% of crops and 35% of ears within a crop infected by these pathogens. High levels of contamination by Microdochium species will cause reductions in grain quality and yield and affect seed germination. Control from fungicides applied was almost non-existent as timely applications were almost impossible to achieve, due to the wet conditions at the time of ear emergence of these crops.

1.6.    The poor harvest was followed by a disastrous autumn sowing campaign. The Farming Online autumn sowing survey showed that across the UK only two thirds of the planned area of wheat was sown. The staggered sowing and unfavourable growing conditions also meant that only half of that sown actually established.  Figures from the NFU showed some 11.6m tonnes of wheat were harvested in 2013, down 10pc on 2012, for although the yields per hectare improved dramatically in 2013 this was not  enough to cover the shortfall in planted area.

1.7.    The net result of this change in climate was that the UK became a net importer of wheat in 2013 for the first time in a decade.

  1. The implications of volatility in global food supply and demand for UK food security;

2.1.    The UK is 80% self-sufficient in indigenous food (Defra Food stats).  But this figure hides the fact that although we have been self-sufficient in cereals and milk and over 80% self-sufficient in poultry we are below 60% self-sufficient in fresh vegetables and 20% of fresh fruit (Defra Food Matters). Fruit and vegetables account for much of the UK’s food trade deficit. In 2007 24 countries supplied the UK with 90% of its fresh fruit and vegetables – the UK supplied 19%.  The majority (36%) of imported vegetables were supplied by countries within the EU.  However, the figures for fresh fruit show we imported from 25 countries with 65% coming from outside the EU.  A recent report by PWC on the implications of Climate Change highlighted the dependence by the UK for imported food. A report by the World Bank also shows that new results on the impact of climate change published since 2007 suggest a rapidly rising risk of crop yield reductions as the world warms. Large negative effects have been observed at high and extreme temperatures in several regions including India, Africa, the United States, and Australia. For example, significant nonlinear effects have been observed in the United States for local daily temperatures increasing to 29°C for corn and 30°C for soybeans. These new results and observations indicate a significant risk of high-temperature thresholds being crossed that could substantially undermine food security globally.

2.2.    The implications of climate change on the production of food sources outside the UK could have an impact on our supply of those food products we import. This is particularly the case for fruit and vegetables sourced from outside the EU.  The countries we currently import from are considered at high risk of disruption to crop production. The risks are from high temperatures and droughts leading to lower yields and poorer quality. This will also result in diminished export opportunities from the countries concerned. The UK animal feed industry’s reliance on imported soya and maize from the South America and the US could see rising prices as shortages of these commodities results due to droughts in these regions.

2.3.    Dr Jason Lowe, Chief Scientist at the met-office speaking at last month’s event on UK climate change policy warned that in the longer term there’s a trend towards warmer wetter winters and hotter drier summers, summer droughts and more extreme weather events.

2.4.    The past three years weather has given us a taster of how climate change can impact on UK agriculture. The increasing unpredictability of the climate and more frequent intense weather events will test the resilience of any farming practice in play.

2.5.    The main factor that will influence any farms ability to adapt to climate change will be the condition of the soils on that farm. The soils will need to have high organic matter content to prevent erosion and compaction, increase water holding capacity and supply nutrients.  Any adaptation plan to climate change must include soil structural improvement.  A recent study on the soil biota and soil health across Europe identified that many of the soils in UK were at risk, the paper concludes that the high score (i.e., high potential threats) of several areas of United Kingdom and central Europe is determined by the combined effect of a high intensity agriculture, with a relatively high number of invasive species and an increased risk for the soils present there to lose organic carbon (2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Global Change Biology, 19, 1538–1548). The reintroduction of livestock onto arable farms and the use of organic manures are seen as key ways in improving soil health.  One system currently being promoted by two Nuffield scholars is the practice of “mob-grazing”.  Mob grazing is a school of ‘natural farming’ that seeks to mimic the movements of grazing plains animals on a farm scale. The approach is receiving attention around the world, thanks to pioneers who have put remarkable achievements down to mob grazing, and their claims that it can be used to replenish soils exhausted by monocropping or boost the health of pastureland. The Royal Agricultural Society of England is currently organising a series of workshops on this subject.

2.6.    The plan needs to look at water storage through rain water catchment systems and more on farm reservoirs. Flood defences are also paramount and although this is part of the Environment Agency’s National Adaptation Plan, flooding of agricultural land has not received enough attention. The influence of climate change on British agriculture will impact on food security for the UK. The UK Agriculture’s National Adaptation plan needs also to look at the current dependence upon a limited cropping or animal husbandry system which will increase the risk of failure in a climate prone to extreme weather events.

2.7.    The HSBC Forward planning in Agriculture 2014 highlights the importance of the SFP in maintaining farm profitability. The budgets compiled by the HSBC for a series of farm enterprises, arable, livestock and mixed farms identifies that without the current level of support many farms would be unviable.  The current CAP reform offers the perfect opportunity to link support payments to better resilience of farming systems by encouraging more diversity on farms and better soil management.

  1. Agro-ecology – building resilience into farming systems and mitigating against climate change.

3.1.    Agroecology has been defined as the application of ecological science to the study, design and management of sustainable agroecosystems.

3.2.    An evolution to agro ecological would provide many advantages, delivering food security and an increased resilience to climate change. Such strategies also offer greatly increased ecosystems services whilst providing a mechanism to sequestrate large amounts of both carbon and water back into the landscape

3.3.    Key Points:

  • Current agricultural practices are not sustainable as they depend heavily on fossil fuel inputs and erode the natural landscape. Top soil loss, depletion of soil carbon and loss of microbial diversity are all significant symptoms of this erosion of the biosphere.
  • A further limitation of agriculture is that it interferes with the hydrological cycle. Deforestation affects evapo-transpiration and therefore dehumidification of the atmosphere whilst ploughing, bare soils and soil compaction greatly affects infiltration of precipitation to recharge groundwater reserves. This is a significant long term impact.
  • Agro ecology and permaculture mimic natural systems, require decreasing inputs and offer a diversity of yields which also include a restored natural ecology
  • These benefits would enhance local social, food and monetary economies and could transform and energise economic activity.
  1. How Farming Can Reverse Global Warming

4.1.    The Green revolution has transformed farming from what it was 60 years ago. Increased field scale, intensification of cultivation, agrichemicals, machinery, seed technology and more has combined to create the present day system. However, there are some fundamental flaws in this approach and recent evidence is showing that a further transformation of farming will be required.

4.2.    Climate change challenges farming models on several levels. Not least the monoculture approaches are extremely vulnerable to variable climatic conditions and potential pest invasions. Agro-chemical inputs are also of course all derived from fossil fuels: fertilizer, pesticides, diesel for water pumping, farm machines and long supply lines are all extremely vulnerable to a rise in price for oil and of course their use also intensifies climate change.

4.3.    Land management patterns, based on the simplification of the natural diversity has also had significant impacts on wildlife and biodiversity which in terms can make crops more susceptible to pest invasion, without the natural self-regulation afforded by a healthy and diverse natural world surrounding our cultivated lands.

4.4.    The key factor to resilience in a natural system is biodiversity. ‘There is no redundancy in natural ecosystems’ In other words loss of any species in a system erodes the resilience of the whole system. Agroecology needs to, therefore , value the contribution of every species and not to concentrate simply the target species for production but to think far widely about cultivated an ecosystem.

4.5.    Agriculture of the type typified by the intensification of land use increases productivity but only in inverse relation to the inputs required to drive the system. At worst agriculture pits us directly against natural principles and creates an ever increasing dependency of external inputs to maintain a productive system and at the expense of ecosystem function. Agriculture is typically a net consumer of energy when all the inputs are factored in.

4.6.    The UNCTAD report, (supported by a great many others) points to the possibilities of agro-ecology, an evolution of our current systems to embrace much of our increased understanding of the function of the natural world. Small scale farms with wildlife zones and interconnected wildlife corridors provide an intensely rich patchwork of ecology, much more akin to the natural world. Water retention habitat creation, humidification, natural pest regulation and a multitude of other ecosystem functions can be integrated in to functional and highly productive landscapes. One of the report’s conclusions was that climate change will drastically impact agriculture, primarily in those developing countries with the highest future population growth, i.e. in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Against this background, the fundamental transformation of agriculture may well turn out to be one of the biggest challenges, including for international security, of the 21st century.

4.7.    Perhaps a key perspective in this discussion is whether agriculture and our whole approach to land management can be evolved to a) sequestrate far more carbon into the ground and, therefore, slowdown the onset of climate change b) to insulate and mitigate the possible impact caused by more extreme and variable weather patterns and c) to guarantee a rich diverse landscape consummate with long term conservation, ecological and ecosystems services considerations.

4.8.    Observations of natural world show that in many ways agriculture pits us directly against the ecology of the system. Nature builds diversity, builds soil and traps more water into a landscape, via increased soil carbon, wet lands and general rising biomass. Agriculture tends to simplify biodiversity, accelerate the passage of water through a landscape and dry out soils and allow more soil carbon to be oxidised and therefore return to the atmosphere.

  1. Potential benefits of Agro-ecology, permaculture and polycropping systems.
  • Decreasing inputs of fossil fuel derived chemicals and energy
  • Increased biodiversity of crops and wildlife, and therefore resilience to external climatic or pest induced stresses
  • Longer harvesting season due to reduced intensification and increased diversity of yields
  • Re stimulation of the rural economy
  • Create opportunities for more urban farming and gardening
  • Public heath benefits from greater social interactions and more exposure and involvement to local food production and recycling
  • Increased food autonomy and food security
  • Use of cover crops and compost to cover bare soils builds soil organic matter with multiple benefits
  • Sequestration of atmospheric carbon
  1. Embracing agro ecology and integrated ecological farming strategies would unleash a new economic wave of opportunity. It would serve to create relocalisation of a significant part of the food supply which would regenerate local trade and related services whilst providing a far greater degree of actual food security of the economically vulnerable sectors of the community.
  2. Perhaps because of the degree of capitalisation of agriculture, with its huge increases in investment in technology, machines and in working at an increasing scale policy makers are tending to look in the wrong places for possible solutions, strategies and ways forward from current challenges. When we evaluate agribusiness through a prism of energy return on investment what is revealed is that it is a net consumer of energy and not a producer at all and at a significant cost of erosion into the biosphere and the ecosystems services of water storage, purification, transpiration and so much more performed by natural wild systems.
  3. In the light of climate change and energy depletion it is likely that agriculture needs to evolve to take on board hard won ecological lessons. It should embrace far more diversity in terms of crops, varieties and wildlife whilst being much more closely integrated into human living recycling and energy systems. The application of a far greater understanding of the role of wildlife and biodiversity in regulating the natural world would serve to greatly reduce agricultural inputs and to enhance resilience and to ameliorate the worst excess of climate change.
  4. Restructuring subsides and incentives to reforest much of our uplands would act as a short term immediate response to the urgency of carbon sequestration, with better understanding it is likely that land management practices might have to prioritise this as the full impacts of climate crises unfolds.
  5. New economic initiatives might be developed that then build productive systems into these reforested area, such as honey production, fruits, poles for timber, biochar, construction, deer and other game. Just a few examples of the potential for going forward.







An estimate of potential threats levels to soil biodiversity in EU: Global Change Biology (2013) 19, 1538–1548, doi: 10.1111/gcb.12159

International Threats and Opportunities of Climate Change to the UK- PWC

UK Food Security Assessment: Detailed Analysis. Defra January 2010


Food Matters Towards a Strategy for the 21st Century The Strategy Unit July 2008


Farming statistics provisional crop areas, yields and livestock populations at June 2013, United Kingdom – Defra


UNCTAD – Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate September 2013