About Us

We work to accelerate the transition to sustainable food and farming systems for the benefit of climate, nature and health.

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Mission

This mission of the SFT is to accelerate the transition to sustainable food systems, inspired by our philosophy of the interconnectedness of the health of soil, plants, animals and people. Our vision is for future food and farming systems which nourish the health of people and planet and are equitable and accessible to all.

 

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Around the world, we now face multiple crisesclimate change, loss of nature and biodiversity, food shortages and famine, partly as a result of conflict, and a worsening public health crisis driven by industrialised food with poor nutritional value.

How do we respond to these crises? We have a choice. We can either double down on industrial farming to produce food that is bad for our health, the environment and food security – or we can seize the opportunity to accelerate more sustainable food and farming and, ultimately, ensure everyone has access to healthy, sustainable food. Today, food and farming are part of the problem, but we believe it could be a big part of the solution if we make the right choices in the coming months and years.  

Our Work

Now, more than ever, we need to work to create a policy, economic and cultural environment that supports sustainable food and farming. 

To bring about the transformation in food and farming that is urgently needed, we work in three key areas.

Policy 

We work closely with government, leaders and other organisations to undertake high-level advocacy for policy change that will support a transition to more sustainable farming systems.

Measuring and valuing sustainability

Informed by our work on True Cost Accounting and building on the proposition that you can’t manage what you don’t measure, we believe that we need a ‘common language’ for measuring farm sustainability, and a globally harmonised framework which takes a holistic approach to measuring sustainability on farms.

Public awareness raising 

We support citizens to be part of the change through our communications and research work.

Within these areas we actively work and campaign on a number of issues and projects, from relocalising food systems, to advocating for sustainable livestock. Find out more on the Our Work page.

 

Food and Farming 5-point plan

Everyone needs to play their part in bringing about a transformation in food and farming. The Sustainable Food Trust is therefore calling on the government, private sector, farmers and civil society to back a ‘Food and Farming 5-point plan’: 

  1. Short and long term Government Actionincluding emergency support to prevent famine around the world and ensure farmers stay in business. In the UK, a package of measures is needed to help families weather the cost of living crisis. Over the long-term, the government needs to more boldly address the underlying structural challenges, including using Government farm aid to incentivise regenerative agriculture.      
  2. Agreement on a common measurement for sustainability on farms – a Global Farm Metric (GFM) – that will empower farmers to become stewards of change and be rewarded financially for it. 
  3. A Green Finance plan from banks and the private sector that will support farmers through this transition, including cheap loans and favourable banking terms.
  4. Retailers to provide guaranteed prices for farmers who farm sustainably and measure their impact using the GFM. 
  5. Consumers and citizens able to make easy and informed choices about what to buy, underpinned by a common framework for sustainability which provides the consistent farm-level data needed to inform all current and future food labels.
Sustainable vegetables

History

The Sustainable Food Trust is a registered charity that was founded by Patrick Holden in 2011 in response to the worsening human and environmental crises that are associated with the vast majority of today’s food and farming systems.

He identified a number of major barriers preventing large scale uptake of sustainable food production and healthy diets. These include the lack of an enabling policy and economic environment for sustainable food production and consumption; a tendency towards reductionist and siloed thinking amongst scientists and some campaigning organisations; and a myriad of conflicting messages, often perpetuated by those with vested interests, leading to considerable confusion amongst citizens and policymakers alike about what to eat to be healthy whilst at the same time supporting just and sustainable food systems.

History highlights

Since being established, the SFT has worked collaboratively to inspire change. Some of the highlights from the past ten years include:

  • Helped to establish True Cost Accounting as a concept and discipline, particularly through holding the True Cost of American Food Conference in San Francisco in 2016.
  • Published our report, The Hidden Cost of UK Food, in 2017. It is still regularly referenced as the go-to source for true cost accounting in the UK.
  • Founded the Harmony Project, inspired by the Prince of Wales’ book Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World. It takes inspiration from nature in changing the way we look at the world, most notably in our education system. After holding the Harmony Conference in 2017, the project has grown and is now becoming its own registered charity.
  • Published A Good Life and A Good Death: Relocalising Farm Animal Slaughter in 2018, a report about the decline of small abattoirs in the UK and how this impacts sustainable, high welfare farming. The report sparked our Campaign for Local Abattoirs which has led to the creation of the Abattoir Sector Group which works with government to address problems facing the industry.
  • Campaigned for the reduction of antibiotic use in farm animals, publishing our report, Maximum Growth: Whatever the Cost in 2020.
  • Founded the Global Farm Metric Coalition, beginning in 2017 through working with farmers. The coalition now has over 50 members.
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