We've Teamed Up with Soil Heroes
We love soil and we think you probably do too. Why? Because 95% of food production directly relies on soil, so healthy soils are essential - absolutely fundamental even - for healthy, thriving communities and ecosystems. With soil health comes nutritious food, increased biodiversity, natural carbon storage, climate change resilience, food security and happy and prospering farmers. All things we can’t help but feel passionate about. So, chances are, if you love healthy, thriving communities and ecosystems, then you love soil too.
Image source: Soil Heroes
How do we help create healthy soils?
It’s not too different to how we make ourselves healthy - soils need plenty of water, a varied diet of minerals and nutrients and less of the synthetic stuff. Unfortunately, this isn’t how we typically manage soil.
The overall trend since the 1950s has been toward gaining efficiencies and we have become increasingly dependent on synthetic inputs (like pesticides and fertilisers) and mechanisation; and we favour monocultures over diversity. This enabled a huge population boom and achieved considerable results in providing food security worldwide. But we now know that this way of farming - interfering with natural the balance of soils and squeezing the land for maximum, short-term efficiencies - comes at a huge environmental and social cost, for example:
- 52% of all soils globally are now classified as degraded - a process which ultimately turns 30 million acres of food producing land into desert every year (link)
- Biodiversity loss is a major issue, as indicated by the 75% decline in flying insects over the past three decades (link)
- 500 million farmers producing food on less than two hectares each supply 70% of the world’s food. They represent the poorest and hungriest people in the world (link)
- More than 2 billion people suffer from the hidden hunger of micronutrient deficiencies (AKA lack of vitamins and minerals) (link)
These issues are vast and complex, but it has become abundantly clear that farming and healthy soils sit at the nexus of many of our biggest environmental and social challenges and are a critical part of the food system puzzle.
Enter regenerative agriculture
A bit of a mouthful, but regenerative agriculture essentially means sustainable farming, with soil health at the heart. It broadly looks to work with nature, instead of against it, restoring balance, and we want to encourage more of it.
Image source: Soil Heroes
On the farm, this involves practices like crop-rotation (instead of monocropping), no-till farming, agroforestry and creating biodiversity corridors nearby. All these together mean roots go deeper, nutrient uptake improves, water retention increases, plants are more pest-resistant and soil fertility recovers. These in turn lead to a host higher-level benefits, including:
- Increased yields
- Greater resilience to climate instability
- Increased biodiversity
- Reduced soil erosion
- Improved quality of life for farming communities
- and a vastly improved ability to capture and store carbon
Increased yields and soil fertility also make these methods profitable in the long-term and a good business choice for farmers. However, there are inevitably upfront costs and knowledge barriers in making the initial transition away from better-known models of farming.
That is why we’re partnering with Soil Heroes who are building a collective of farmers, buyers, and businesses that share a belief in the necessity of a transition to more regenerative agricultural practices, with soil health its heart.
How it works:
- As farmers themselves, they provide growers with the knowledge and skills to adopt more sustainable practices
- We provide the sponsorship to cover up-front costs for things like equipment and planting trees
- They track core environmental improvements with data on carbon stored, water capacity of the soil and biodiversity to help us communicate the impact of their transition, inspiring others to do the same
In summary - we’ll be working shoulder to shoulder with a UK farmer (from Feb 2021) leading an agricultural transformation and we’re extremely proud to be doing so. Long-term, this will also better equip us to help others on this journey, including growers in our supply chain, so watch this space!
Some resources if you’re now hooked on soil like us:
by Ellie Harrison
Ellie heads up all-things sustainability, making sure everything we do is as conscious as possible. She couldn’t live without volleyball, killer whales and porridge… though hopefully not at the same time.