Why community farming?
Community farming is a term that has developed from the 'Community Supported Agriculture' (CSA) movement. Although community farms have existed in the UK for decades, they have become more popular in recent years since people have become more concerned about where their food comes from, and the ethical, environmental and social impact of how we source our food.
Community farming addresses these concerns in so many ways:
1) Get social, get fit
Playing a role in growing your own food can increase your physical fitness and get you outdoors having fun with like minded people. No gym, or strict exercise regime, just taking part in farm activities at your own pace. This is fantastic for making friends, to build confidence, exercise the brain and work in a team. Skill that help all of us at home and a work.
2) Our wellbeing
Being outdoors, with your hands in the soil, making friends, and being part of a team with the common goal of growing the food you will eat, can contribute towards better mental health by reducing depression and releasing endorphins. Numerous of studies have been conducted into the hollistic benefits of being outdoors in nature. There is a real feel good factor to seeing the seeds you have planted, growing into strong nourishing vegetables that will end up on your family table.
3) Conscientious living
You have peace of mind knowing that the highest ethical standards are in place on the farm, ensuring that the welfare of the land and its habitats are always our highest priority. No chemicals are used in the growing of our food. We constantly review our organic methods and philosophy in order to develop new and innovate ways to grow food without having a negative impact on the land or the environment.
The industry is challenged over the use of various chemicals on land and crops, how it affects surrounding natural habitats such as bees, insects and birds, and the long term effect on the health of consumers.
There is growing concern over the legal framework in the UK that currently allows animal welfare to fall desperately low of what should be acceptable in the meat and dairy industry. Here at the farm, we challenge these accpeted norms. We are committed to providing the highest standards of animal welfare. All life on the farm, from the live stock to the birds, bees and bugs that rely on the farm being well maintained in order to thrive.
4) We challenge the norm. We challenge ourselves.
By farming in this way, we grow to demand. We farm by hand, make our own compost and grow what we need which means that per metre square, significantly less food goes to waste than the conventional UK farm. In fact, in 2014, less than 1% of what the farm produced went to waste. We don't throw away food because it's not the 'right' shape or size, and we don't over charge for our food because it's organic.
Organic food as we commonly understand it, has bcome an expensive label available to the fewer rather than the many. It is expensive to the consumer and the farmer, and for farmers there is very little state support to provide healthier and more environmentlay friendly food, plus heavy fees and some unrealistic terms and conditions from organic standard providers.
We believe that this is fundamentally wrong; food that is most healthy for us and least damaging to the environment is what needs to be prioritised by farmers, consumers and the state.
Throughought our journey at Longwater Community Farm, we will continue to explore the concept of moving agriculture on a large scale to the small holding and looking at such issues as;
- "To take away large farms and replace with small holdings; how would this affect employment in the industry? What is employment currently like in agriculture both for CSA's and large scale farms?"
- "Smallholder farmer VS large scale farmer. Skill sets and resources - the plight of the modern farmer."
- "Farming in the UK has evolved this way from a need to provide enough food. How will smallholdings live up to the demand?" Looking at import and export of food, and exploring ways to maximise food production without sacrificing health or the environment.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please get in touch here.