Bristol Port Company at Portbury, a Warburton’s factory and the Humble by Nature prototype aquaponics greenhouse provided a wealth of inspiration and a thought-provoking backdrop to our LEAF Network Event last week. Dave Rabbich, LEAF Intern went along and tells us more…
The two day event was designed to stimulate the exchange of knowledge and discussion between LEAF Demonstration Farmers and LEAF Innovation Centre representatives, based around the principles of Integrated Farm Management (IFM).
Events like these are a key part of continuous improvement. In addition to providing an opportunity for these volunteers to engage with each other, and share their expertise about farming, it allowed us to explore how businesses in the food sector working under different situations and scales, operate and strive to achieve their own sustainability goals.
The Bristol Port Company handles a range of products for import and export. As we toured the site, they were preparing to load 60,000 tonnes of grain onto a ship – around 2,000 lorry loads! The scale of the operation was very impressive, and it was interesting to see how the combination of modern technology and long-standing methods is used to achieve their targets.
The Warburton’s bakery in Bristol manufactures 800g loaves, 400g loaves as well as wraps and thins. Their approach to quality control, attention to detail and flexibility has allowed them to gain 26% market share.
Our evening discussions revolved around how farms and zoos could cooperate to enhance biodiversity conservation and how consumers perceive the value of farming.
Humble by Nature is home to a prototype aquaponics solar greenhouse which was created to investigate the mutualistic relationship that can be formed between fish and plants. This pioneering project is making inroads into understanding these growing methods further.
Each operation we visited faces different challenges and each had an ingenious way of overcoming them. It was really interesting to find out more about these different businesses and from the many discussions that followed, it was evident that all of the farmers that joined us gained useful insights into how sustainability targets are being delivered in other sectors.
The range of businesses we visited revealed a breadth of solutions the food sector has used to overcome a number of issues. It also became apparent that to overcome future concerns, it will require the cooperation of all stages of the supply chain to continue to provide nutritious food as well as maintaining a healthy natural environment in a sustainable way. LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management, LEAF Marque and LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday will all have a large part to play in this.
To find out more about LEAF, LEAF Demonstration Farmers and LEAF Innovation Centres, please visit www.leafuk.org