What was the inspiration for setting up farming carbon?
I used to work in an industry that was negatively impacting our environment and every morning I felt like I had to put my values aside to go to work.I believe that the world is changing and farming is an opportunity for positive work against climate change and protecting biodiversity. There is so much hope but the farming industry can be traditional and resistant to change so I sometimes feel like I'm fighting against the grain.
I work in collaboration with a farm in Clough, 5 years ago the farmer looked into changing his farming practices. He wanted to find a way that moved away from chemicals to protect his health and the health of his family, that was sort of the trigger for him to look into regenerative farming.
I want to create advocates for a new movement in farming to try and release the grasps of the chemical companies.I started farming carbon as a place to build these advocates and collect research that acts as proof that changing farming will change the world we live in.
Who do you work with through farming carbon?
We use third party relationships with leaf, ulster wildlife and basis to accredit the conservation and innovation we follow on the farm. We would like to work with more students from Queens and Ulster university, we have previously had PHD students working with us and found it very useful. We want to provide data for larger data driven organisations like the MET Office to drive better policy decision making and prove the worth of regenerative agriculture. We are also working at the moment with the Nature Friendly Farming Network creating a web course.
We work with a variety of clients, but are always welcoming more, some industries that we work with that are in greatest need for social value work are: Textiles, transport, energy, chemicals, IT, manufacturing and construction. These companies are being pushed to find a meaningful local solution. They are doing good yet and we can do exponentially better and farming carbon can help. In the most part we put together education opportunities to those heavily carbonised companies to have employee afternoons so they all understand the impacts sustainable farming has on the environment and social issues, with seminars and question sessions to help them feel a part of the process.
There’s a benefit to sitting between the people and the corporations and to work with third sector organisations. It bridges the gap and defeats stigmas from both sides working together will always result in a more meaningful impact.
Have you seen an increased interest in regenerative farming and knowledge around carbon efficiency since the start of the pandemic?
The biggest increase I have seen has been since the start of the Ukrainian war. Because farming was kept as essential work throughout the pandemic and people were still able to go to the supermarket, there wasn’t a huge change in income for the larger scale farms. But the cost of living crisis and energy crisis linked to the Ukraine war has definitely changed profits for farmers. Fertilisers and chemicals also cost so much more. It’s making farmers think differently and look around for different methods that don’t rely on these chemicals. Conversations have shot through the roof, everyone is talking about longevity and protecting their farms for future generations.
For example until recently a lot of the typical meat we eat has been fed on soy grain from Ukraine. The deforestation in Ukraine to plant soybean monocultures was on an unprecedented level to facilitate the demand across Europe. People now see the strength and reliability of localising these supply chains. Morocco is another example of a country that feeds Europe but it is close to the equator and is already being hit by warming, and water insecurity.
We want to empower people to think differently, there is an opportunity for farm land to be both productive and good for nature by observing natural patterns and ecosystems to balance themselves. It’s so important for us to seize this now to build our movement.
Why do you think regenerative agriculture should be valued by everyone in our society, not just the farmers?
To me the most important thing is longevity. I compare how we are dealing with the climate crisis to stealing food from a baby. Everyone needs to eat, it’s true everyone deserves life and to be able to eat, and that’s being taken from us. After approximately 60 more harvests that will be it, I’ll be 87 when there's no more food, the small patches of growing space will be warzones.
There is no other solution than to work with the way the world works naturally. There is no losing scenario to this but complaints are that a regenerative method looks untidy and that’s not good enough.