For many of us, and especially our customers, being sustainable is something we aspire to in our day-to-day lives. It‘s fantastic that people are waking up to the ‘no planet b’ idea and thinking about what they buy, use and consume. It’s a great start. But in the last few years, some people have begun to question if being sustainable is really enough. Can we aim a little higher and improve the state of our planet and our own lives?
It’s from this starting point that the term ‘regenerative’ has sprung and morphed into a philosophy that is making an impact across agriculture and horticulture… Admittedly, it’s a bit of a buzzword – whose origin lies in permaculture, the organic movement and ‘no-dig’ / ‘no-till’ – but it’s an approach that’s here to stay and it is becoming a lot more than just a catchy phrase. In fact, my cousin (Bek’s brother James) has decided to go the regenerative route here at Loddington Farm – which is great news all round.
Since starting in 2007 we have grown our flowers using organic principles – though we have chosen not to be certified organic, for a number of reasons. (The mere fact we use a lot of municipal waste compost would rule out organic certification). Bek studied environmental biology at university and has been an organic grower for as long as she has been growing. In more recent years we’ve also adopted a no-dig approach, influenced to a large extent by Charles Dowding and also by the toll that digging took on Bek’s back. We’ve effectively been regenerative from the beginning – it’s just few people were using the term or aware of the concept.
Until recently, the orchards that surround our flower plot were farmed using conventional methods which, by their very nature, involve using chemicals. But James has become increasingly disillusioned with conventional practices: “If you’d visited the farm a few years ago, you would have seen lots of tidy, modern and intensive apple orchards – now you will see cherries, apricots and cover crops, new varieties as well as sheep, pigs and soon chickens.” He plans to be completely chemical free within 5 years and has stopped adding artificial fertilisers or using herbicide. There are many benefits: “We are working with nature, making a positive contribution to the environment and producing more nutritious food.” We’re thrilled by this decision.
It’s cool to see that, in the 14 years we have been in business, so many things are going in the right direction: more people are adopting a no-dig approach to gardening; more farmers are looking into re-wilding and regenerative agriculture. The combined efforts of the ‘big people’ and ‘little people’ as well as those in-between, are creating an ever-increasing band of regenerative farmers and growers. These are exciting times, that couldn’t come soon enough…