Guest blogger; Caroline Drummond MBE, of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) comments on the importance of delivering healthy food and farming, and its importance for a healthy future.
The start of a New Year is always good time to reflect on the past years successes, failures and learnings and plan for the year ahead.
This year, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) celebrates 25 years – how fast that time has passed and how much has changed, developed and improved since 1991 in the food and farming sector!
LEAF’s vision for ‘A world that is farming, living and eating more sustainability’, remains as true today as it was when we started. However, the challenges we all face become more intense as we feel the impact of climate change, growing world population and increased urbanisation and pressures on the demand for quality land. It is essential we become more savvy and smarter in fashioning effective solutions.
Our theme for our 25th year is ‘LEAF: Delivering Healthy Food and Farming – Fit for the Future’. Building on the importance of ensuring businesses that are economically, environmentally and socially healthy – more resilient, robust and prepared for the long term.
Similar to getting fit for a run, ensuring your business is resilient for the long term is built on the same principles:
- Be prepared
- Use monitoring tools
- Seek out the opportunities
- Find a substitute for weaknesses
- Stay focussed
- Check your attitude
These six key principles lie at the very heart of why the LEAF Sustainable Farming Review supports farmers as an effective management tool in the adoption of more sustainable farming – Integrated Farm Management (IFM). With its origins from the LEAF Audit developed back in 1993, it helps farmers take stock of what they are doing, monitor their performance and set targets to drive forward continual improvement in their businesses – economically, environmentally and socially.
It covers the nine sections of IFM from Crop Health and Protection, Water and Soil Management, Animal Husbandry through to Community Engagement and Organisation and Planning. Together these sections cover economic performance, environmental quality and social health. We have worked closely with farmers, heard what matters to them, listened to what they want and it is clear that the LEAF Sustainable Farming Review is making a real, practical difference to delivering more sustainable farming. This is especially important as global markets put huge pressure on returns to farmers, meaning efficiency, attention to detail and seeking out the opportunities for new markets and added value are all critical.
It also prepares farmers for meeting the requirements of LEAF Marque – a leading environmental assurance system recognising sustainably farmed products, developed by LEAF and based on IFM principles.
As you consider ways to get your business ‘fit’, it is worth reflecting on these key principles:
- Be prepared – consider the impact of global markets, climate change on your business
- Use monitoring tools – the LEAF Sustainable Farming Review is a great start to prepare your business across the whole farm
- Seek out the opportunities – there are many, such as LEAF Marque where you can demonstrate your commitment to sustainable farming
- Find a substitute for weaknesses – work with others and seek advice
- Stay focussed – be clear on your business priorities and commitments. Communicate how you are taking them forward
- Check your attitude – change is inevitable, embrace it positively!