Publications

Many of the projects we've funded have produced reports of some kind - illuminating hidden aspects of the food and farming system, and establishing a basis for action. You can find some of these reports below. 

Growers and farmers who are Black or People of Colour (BPOC) face discrimination and a lack of inclusion in the food and farming world on the basis of race. Yet there is little awareness of how this dynamic affects BPOC growers in the food and farming movement.

 

Against this background, the Rootz into Food Growing project team conducted research into, and published a report on, the experiences of the few BPOC growers with experience of commercial or social enterprise food growing in and around London. They conducted interviews with food growers past and present, asking about their journeys into the food growing world, and the challenges and opportunities they faced.

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This report, co-produced by The New Economics Foundation and the Croatan Institute, takes a deep dive into the various obstacles and opportunities associated with financing a more rapid transition to agroecology in the UK, as well as a number of emerging funding models and mechanisms that could be established with the support of grants and investment. It then lays out recommendations on how policy makers, financial institutions, philanthropists and impact investors can support the agricultural transition beyond the common agricultural policy.

You can read more about our Redirecting Finance workstream here.

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In 2019/2020, the New Economics Foundation (NEF) conducted an evaluation of the impact of Growing Communities’ weekly veg scheme and its farmers market on consumers, farmers, food processors, employees, ‘food eaters’, and the environment. They found that for each £1 spent at GC, £3.73-worth of returns were delivered in social, economic and environmental value.

 

These returns were distributed amongst customers, farmers, GC staff, food processors, and the environment. Interestingly, the research found that the environmental benefits of organic farming in the supply chain exceed the value of any yield forgone more than four-fold.

UK pesticide standards, while far from perfect, are some of the strongest in the world in terms of protecting human health and the environment. As such, future trade deals with countries with weaker pesticide regulations present a considerable risk to the health of the UK’s citizens, its environment and its agricultural economy. Potential trade partners are keen to weaken British pesticides standards through trade deals, with this being a key priority for some. However, the British public is overwhelmingly opposed to lowering pesticide standards to meet trade deal demands.

 

The report makes a range of recommendations, including not allowing pesticide standards to be weakened through trade deals, maintaining the Precautionary Principle as the basis for pesticide-related decisions, and introducing additional legislative protections for food safety standards and environmental protection.

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The UK has applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership—one of the largest Free Trade Agreements in the world. Signing up to this agreement risks weakening the UK’s pesticide protections, which are currently more stringent than those of other member countries. A dilution of British pesticide standards would expose citizens and the natural environment to higher amounts of pesticides, as well as a broader range of pesticides, as well as risking the economic future of British agriculture. There is significant public concern about the implications of joining the CPTPP in terms of its implications for pesticide use.

 

The report makes recommendations including not weakening the UK’s pesticide standards during accession to the CPTPP, protecting UK farmers from being undercut by cheaper imports produced with higher pesticide loads, and publicly acknowledging that the CPTPP would herald a departure from the UK’s currently strong approach to pesticide restrictions.

The Landworkers Alliance (LWA) carried out research to inform discussions with the Defra on support programs for New Entrants to agriculture in England. They found that while barriers to entry to farming are well documented, there is little research into the number and nature of new entrants. What does exist suggests that there is substantially more interest in starter farms than currently available, and indicates that the number of aspiring new entrants in the UK must at least be in the low thousands, compared with around 40 new entrants that access land annually through Farm Business Tenancies and county holdings.

 

The report finds that new entrants are younger, are more likely to be female than established farmers, and are more likely to be interested in ecological farming and in social and environmental outcomes. They are also more entrepreneurial than their established counterparts and, because many new entrants have to start with small farms, they will be required to be more productive per acre employ more labour per acre.

The report makes recommendations including not weakening the UK’s pesticide standards during accession to the CPTPP, protecting UK farmers from being undercut by cheaper imports produced with higher pesticide loads, and publicly acknowledging that the CPTPP would herald a departure from the UK’s currently strong approach to pesticide restrictions.

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The Landworkers' Alliance (LWA) has a vision for change in woodland and tree management in order to enable them to provide benefits for people, wildlife and the climate at the same time, set out in this manifesto. Their vision would see the thoughtful reintegration of a diverse range of humans into forests to enable both to thrive.

 

Tree-planting must benefit local communities and wildlife as well as meeting international obligations – to achieve this goal requires coherent national strategy and a revitalised Forestry Commission. Existing woodlands must be more sustainably managed, more forests must be planted, and more trees must be integrated into agroecological farming systems. The threat of tree disease must be met with sufficient resources, and greater woodland and forest education is required to produce skilled workers and support a self-sufficient timber industry.