Tag Archives: Sustainable Agriculture

Frogmary Green Farm Joins Network of LEAF Demonstration Farms

We are delighted to welcome Frogmary Green Farm as a LEAF Demonstration Farm. LEAF’s nationwide network of over 40 LEAF Demonstration Farms showcase the very best of sustainable farming practices.

Nick and Claire Bragg run Frogmary Green Farm, a 500 acre poultry and arable farm, based on the edge of South Petherton in Somerset.  The farm also grows potatoes for supermarkets and maize and grass for fodder.  Frogmary Green Farm joined LEAF in 2008, became LEAF Marque certified in 2013 and regularly hosts both Open Farm Sunday and Open Farm Schools Days.

Frogmary LDF Launch

From Left to Right: Lord Cameron of Dillington (Dillington Farms), Nick Bragg (Frogmary Green Farm) , Patrick Wrixon (LEAF Board member), Claire Bragg (Frogmary Green Farm) and Caroline Drummond (LEAF Chief Executive)

Speaking at a lovely LEAF Demonstration Farm Launch event yesterday, Nick explained, “LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM) approach is all about striving to achieve balance across the whole farm. We’re working hard in lots of practical ways to conserve and enhance the natural environment by planting trees, creating wetland areas and cutting our carbon footprint.  All of us on the farm care deeply about our precious environment and want to do all we can to enhance it whilst producing food to the highest welfare and environmental standards.  “We are also passionate about bringing people onto the farm, to share what we are doing and help to break down some of the barriers that exist between producers and consumers.”

Frogmary Green Farm was officially welcomed to the network during yesterday’s event which included the planting of a large leaved lime tree by Lord Cameron of Dillington who spoke of the great work Nick and Claire are doing.

A short tour of the farm included a visit to one of the chicken houses, where one of Frogmary Green Farm’s main ‘crops’ can be seen through a viewing gallery. Nick and Claire were the first to install a biomass woodchip boiler for heating chicken houses, utilising locally sourced timber. Other discussions included potato production and more about their ongoing commitment to environmental enhancement such as through the planting of some 4 kilometres of hedgerows and over 500 trees since 2002. Pollen and nectar margins to provide extra habitat for bumblebees and other insects have also been established.  This has resulted in a huge variety of wildlife making its home at Frogmary Green Farm including cuckoo, linnet, song thrush, swift and whitethroat.

Nick and Claire Bragg Frogmary Green Farm, LEAF's latest demonstration farm

Nick and Claire Bragg,  Frogmary Green Farm, the latest LEAF Demonstration Farm

As a LEAF Demonstration Farm, Frogmary Green Farm will act as a ‘living classroom’ demonstrating and promoting the principles of Integrated Farm Management to opinion formers, educationalists, politicians, consumers and conservation groups as well as to community groups and local schools.

LEAF Demonstration Farms play a hugely vital role in sharing best practice amongst farmers as well as being a great way to help educate the public about how modern food production can co-exist with protecting nature and the countryside.  Frogmary Green Farm is an excellent example of sustainable farming in action and represents what Integrated Farm Management is all about.

If you are interested in visiting Frogmary Green Farm, or another LEAF Demonstration Farm, to learn more about Integrated Farm Management in practice, please get in touch with the LEAF office:


Sustainable Agriculture: Show me the money

Next week (it’s come around quickly!), we will be holding our annual President’s Event in London. As always, the response has been tremendous and we’re now fully booked. However, for the first time this year, you can follow the event live on our website! Commentating on the event live will be LEAF Trustee, Cedric Porter – click here to go to the live event page.

The theme of this year’s event is ‘Sustainable Agriculture: Show me the money’. Valuing the outputs of sustainable agriculture is an incredibly difficult task, the public goods farming delivers are vast and often difficult to quantify. This conference will explore the three pillars of sustainability, debate new ideas on how money can be made from each of them and examine LEAF’s role in making this happen.

We interviewed LEAF’s Chief Executive, Caroline Drummond about the theme of this year’s event, you can see the video below. Caroline spoke about the increasing demands society is placing on what it expects from agriculture – ranging from a plentiful supply of affordable food, traceability, a thriving environment and access to a well-managed landscape, bringing with it a host of health and wellbeing benefits.  She explained that new ways of thinking need to be explored to ensure farmers are able to deliver on all these levels, whilst also looking after their own bottom line.   Ultimately, she said, profitability has to lie at the very heart of sustainability.

Get involved in the event by tweeting with the hashtag #LPE13 and follow the event live here!  To keep up to date with our President’s Event, please subscribe to LEAF’s EBrief here.

Measuring what matters

This post also features on the 2degrees network here. 2degrees is the world’s leading community for sustainable business.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” goes the old management adage. Over the 21 years of LEAF’s existence we’ve gathered a lot of data on farming practices. We’re now taking the next step towards effective measuring of sustainable farming, with our initial results in our new report ‘LEAF – Driving Sustainability’ (launched 19th March 2013).

Sustainability report front coverMuch of the data in the report was from the LEAF Audit. This is one of the tools we offer our farming members. It is a self-assessment farm management tool, which helps farmers take a look at their farm and guides them towards more sustainable practices. The flip side of this is that we can then use this information to monitor trends and assess the progress of our members towards delivering more sustainable agriculture.

We developed 24 objectives for sustainable farming and scored progress towards the objectives using data submitted by LEAF Audit users. Doing this has allowed us to spot trends over time and to assess performance under each of the three pillars of sustainability – economic performance, environmental quality and social health.

We found that farmers who complete the LEAF Audit have an impressive average sustainability index rating of 2.50 out of 3, indicating that the majority of LEAF Audit users’ businesses are economically, environmentally and socially robust. LEAF farmers are strongest when it comes to Environmental Quality with an average score of 2.57, followed closely by Economic Performance at 2.53 and Social Health at 2.13. Although Social Health, which includes engagement with the community, has a lower rating, it is in this area that the greatest gains have been made over the last three years.

Sustainability dashboard

We’ve presented this information in much more detail in our report ‘LEAF – Driving Sustainability’. We set out to do this as transparently as possible; the source of much of the data in the report comes from LEAF Audit responses over the last three years. We also ran two surveys, one with a group of LEAF farmers and another targeted at the food industry to gather views on sustainable food and farming. Richard Perkins, Food, Agriculture and Land Use Specialist at WWF UK, spoke at our seminar at the International Food and Drink Event when we launched the report. He shared his views and advice on developing sustainable farming indicators, “Sustainable farming indicators need to be simple and few. LEAF needs to develop robust and innovative ways of measuring how farmers are progressing towards sustainability targets. They have made a brave start. Moving forward, it is critical that they engage with the wider food and farming sector to ensure that measurement systems are applicable to all farms, not just LEAF farms.”

We wanted to have a few simple indicators and we’ve ended with 24 objectives, which could be simplified. I think this is quite indicative of a first attempt but we’re not hiding from that, we’ve put it out there for the industry and we want your views.

The report is available to download here. Please feel free to share your views with us as comments here, on twitter or via email.

A Showcase for Sustainable Farming – Overbury Farms

Caroline Drummond, Jake Freestone and Penelope Bossom

Caroline Drummond, Jake Freestone and Penelope Bossom

Long standing LEAF members, Overbury Farms, have become the latest farm to be launched as a LEAF Demonstration Farm.

Many of you will be forgiven to think that Overbury Farms are already a LEAF Demonstration Farm! They have taken a very active involvement in all our activities since they joined us in 2003 – they were one of the first farms to sign up for our very first Open Farm Sunday back in 2006 and have achieved LEAF Marque certification on all their lamb. Farm Manager, Jake Freestone is an avid tweeter and blogger and can often be heard expounding on the benefits of LEAF membership!

Overbury Farms, set within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the historic slopes of Bredon Hill on the Worcestershire/Gloucestershire border, was formally launched as a LEAF Demonstration Farm last week by local farmer Mark Tufnell from Calmsden Farms. Along with our 40 other Demonstration Farms, Overbury will play an important role in promoting the sustainable farming principles of Integrated Farm Management.

They will host visits to farmers, community groups, conservation organisations and local schools, to show how they are combining commercial farming with the highest standards of agricultural best practice and environmental care.

Jake Freestone, Penelope Bossom, Mark Tufnell and Caroline Drummond

Jake Freestone, Penelope Bossom, Mark Tufnell and Caroline Drummond

Speaking at the launch, Jake said he was delighted at achieving this recognition, “Overbury has a long tradition of farming with nature. Following the sustainable farming principles of Integrated Farm Management, we are able to strike the right balance between commercial farming, environmental sensitivity and linking with our local community. We want other farmers to be inspired by what we are doing and to help the public get a better understanding of how their food is produced as well as how their countryside and its wildlife are cared for. We look forward to reaching out to diverse groups and showing them what we are trying to achieve here at Overbury Farms.”

If you would like to visit any of LEAF’s Demonstration Farms, take a look here. You can see photos from the launch on our flickr page and on facebook.

New Podcast: Climate Week and Trade-offs

Image by SamSnook on flickr

LEAF’s Justine Hards is joined by LEAF’s Chairman, Stephen Fell, Vice Chairman, Robert Kynaston, and Chief Executive, Caroline Drummond, discussing some key topics brought up at a recent debate around the competing choices and trade-offs facing food producers in addressing food security and issues around climate change and agriculture.

This week is Climate Week, and in this podcast we address some of the challenges that all of us face as a result of climate change and address the statement, ‘Why rising CO2 levels are actually good for food security’.

You can listen to the podcast with the player below, download an Mp3 or use our RSS feed. The podcasts are also available through itunes here.

Download Mp3 (Right click and “Save target as” to download)

Taking a Broad View

Tony Worth, EISA Chairman, speaking at International Green Week in Berlin

I’ve just returned from Berlin’s International Green Week – the world’s biggest fair for food, agriculture and horticulture.  It was a truly inspirational event attracting over 400, 000 visitors where just about every country in the world was represented, celebrating their food, culture and traditions.  The sense of pride they feel for their farming industry and their regional and local specialities and produce was overwhelming.   But nowhere to be seen was Britain’s fares; we should be promoting more to our continental partners.

Together with our EISA (European Initiative for Sustainable Development in Agriculture) partners, we did a presentation on ‘Building public trust and understanding of farming and food – what more needs to be done.’ It was interesting to hear how each of our partner countries is connecting with consumers in slightly different ways, but we were all united in recognising the need for:

  • Clear and concise messaging
  • Farmers to take a handle of the press, rather than ‘be handled’
  • Farmers to learn the skills and know-how to communicate effectively with different audiences
  • Farmers to shout loud and clear about what they are delivering and take pride in what they do

LEAF is addressing these issues, through Speak Out training, Open Farm Sunday, Demonstration Farms and the Let Nature Feed Your Senses project.   But we have a lot to learn from our partners and we look forward to continuing to work with them.

It was a huge privilege to be at the Green Week – a real reminder of the UK’s place in a much wider food economy. Together with our EISA partners and the growing number of farmers, across the globe, growing to LEAF Marque standards, we will continue to work together to identify workable solutions to grow production, enhance the environment and build public trust and understanding.