This week the Sustainable Food Trust went along to Farmers in Parliament, an event organised by the All Party Parliamentry Group on Agroecology for Sustainable Food and Farming

Claire Peeters, Research and Fundraising Manager and Chief Executive, Patrick Holden set up a stand in the Churchill Room. Armed with the SFT banner, a large block of Hafod cheese from Patrick’s West Wales farm, Bwlchwernen, and a rather sharp knife (sadly confiscated by Parliament security!), they were ready to speak to MPs and Peers.

The event was hosted by Kerry McCarthy MP and introduced politicians to some of the UK’s most innovative farmers and NGOs working to put sustainable food issues on the map. The exhibition provided the opportunity for all to demonstrate the wide variety of techniques they use to ensure their farms are economically viable, productive and efficient, while also producing a range of benefits to society and the environment. McCarthy commented that “the APPG for Sustainable Food and Farming is looking at ways to use 21st century science to understand nature and work with it to produce productive sustainable food systems. We believe stakeholders need to listen to many of the farmers present today when looking at food and farming policies for the future.”

Businesswoman and smallholder Deborah Meaden, of Dragon’s Den fame, opened the event by reminding us all that truly modern farming should take account of ecology. She highlighted that there is a sound business case for agroecological approaches, as well their being good for human and planetary health, concluding that “Farm and food management methods grounded in biology make both sound long term financial and environmental sense. Farmers, landowners, food producers, policy makers and society as a whole must share the collective responsibility for future food production and work together to ensure truly sustainable solutions.”

Fellow Co-Chair, Baroness Miller of Chilthorn Dormer added that, “True sustainable farming isn’t about turning our back on new technologies it is about understanding how the natural world operates and then tailoring our activities to be ‘in sync’ with nature.”

Events like this help open communication with MPs and Peers in a direct and personal way, engaging them in discussion and debate on sustainable food production. It raises awareness of the vital need for a fundamental shift towards sustainability in agriculture and how to create this change. We need more of them, because we need more politicians listening.

Photograph: Steph French

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