Sustainable Food Trust Progress Report

The Sustainable Food Trust Progress Report outlines the development and successes of the SFT over the last 8 years. The report was launched on Monday 9th December 2019 at an event kindly hosted by Sir Alan and Lady Parker at the Lincoln Centre, London. We wish to thank all of our supporters and funders who have enabled us to work towards our goal of achieving the transition to more sustainable food systems that is urgently needed.

Patrick Holden thanks supporters

Since the foundation of the SFT in 2011 by Patrick Holden, we have made significant contributions with a number of projects, campaigns, reports, events and collaborative partnerships. In particular, our work on true

View Original

The Prince of Wales becomes Patron of the Sustainable Food Trust

We are delighted to announce that HRH The Prince of Wales has accepted an invitation to become the Patron of the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT).

The announcement was made at the launch of the organisation’s Progress Report on Monday 9th December which outlines the development and successes of the SFT over the last 8 years.

Commenting on the announcement, Patrick Holden, Founder and CEO of the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) said, “The decision by The Prince of Wales to accept this invitation comes at a vital moment in history, when the pressures that unsustainable land management, farming and food production systems are putting on the planet’s ecosystems are threatening to precipitate irreversible climate change, biodiversity collapse, the further destruction of natural capital, food

View Original

Unbalanced anti-meat coverage: A threat to sustainable farming?

The last two weeks has seen significant TV and radio coverage of issues relating to meat, not all of it well balanced. Sustainable Food Trust Policy Director Richard Young gives his analysis.

‘Meat: A Threat To Our Planet?’ a prime time BBC One documentary looked at intensive beef and pork production in the US and the growing number of cattle being ranched on former rainforest land in South America. It’s difficult not to go along with the documentary’s theme on this. US consumers eat more meat, on average, than anywhere else on the planet and the programme wallowed in the over-sized portions and other excesses, including a steakhouse in Texas advertising that consumers eat fee if they can finish a

View Original

Bringing biodiversity back into farming

Earlier this year, the UN announced that 1 million species around the planet are at risk of extinction, with agriculture the primary culprit in what is being hailed as the sixth mass extinction, the first global extinction event to be caused by humans. With 72% of Britain comprised of farmland, what farmers do on their land has never been more critical. Without a radical change in practices, we may lose the vital ecosystems upon which we rely for our survival.

The recently published State of Nature report says that in the UK, “Agriculture has been identified as the most important driver of biodiversity change over the past 45 years, with most effects being negative.” The push to increase productivity and profit

View Original

How alive is your soil? Start digging into the underworld to find out

Who cares about soil anyway? Actually, we all should – soil is a miracle substance. It cleans water, prevents drought and flooding, sequesters carbon and produces nutritious food.

Until about three years ago, I had very little interest in soil – it was just the dirt under my feet. Many people told me it was important, and while I sort of believed them, I didn’t think too much about it. It was only once I started investigating the health of the soil on my own family’s farm, by digging into the soil and truly looking at it over time, that I began to realise how incredible it is.

After looking at a spade full of soil a few times, it

View Original

What’s the problem with soil-less agriculture?

As we celebrate World Soil Day 2019, the need for and value of healthy soil continues to be of utmost importance. The statistics are well known: a third of global arable soils are degraded with 25% severely degraded. In the UK, 84% of topsoil has been lost since 1850, and the UK may only be 30 to 40 years away from eradicating its soil fertility. Globally, it is predicted that only 60 years of farming are left if the rate of degradation continues.

Into this grim scenario, comes an expanding new sector: soil-less agriculture. While hydroponic production has been around for some time, its incorporation into ‘vertical farming’ has been a more recent innovation that is taking hold. It falls

View Original

Why sustainable livestock farming is essential for a healthy planet

Ahead of the broadcast of the BBC 1 documentary, ‘Meat, A Threat to our Planet?’, Patrick Holden, CEO of the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) stresses the importance of differentiating between the livestock systems and meats that are part of the problem, and those that are part of the solution.

“There is no doubt that grain fed, intensively farmed livestock, including those found in feed-lots in the USA, are hugely damaging to the environment and public health, and for this reason should be phased out entirely.

However, it is also true that sustainable agriculture represents one of     the most significant opportunities to mitigate irreversible climate change, primarily through the regeneration of our soils. With this in mind, grazing ruminant animals (including cattle and sheep), have a critically important role to play in rebuilding our

View Original

A brief history of wheat

Most of us eat grains every day – in bread, cereals, biscuits or pasta. In recent years, with gluten intolerance on the rise, wheat has been getting bad press. But how much do you know about this grain that forms such a significant part of our diet, and how has the wheat we eat changed over the centuries?

 The era of the landrace

Wheat has been cultivated for more than 10,000 years, beginning in the Fertile Crescent and arriving in the UK around 5,000 years ago. Milling wheat for flour only became common in the 12thcentury, but by the turn of the 19thcentury, wheat was the UK’s most significant crop grown for human consumption. However, this wheat was very different

View Original

How eating heritage barley could be a useful weapon in the fight against climate change

Re-discovering how to cook and eat heritage barley – especially in the world’s biggest barley-growing nations of Europe, Australia and North America – could encourage farmers to grow special landrace heritage varieties. These could be grown in marginal climates and make a substantial contribution to ensuring global food security in the face of climate change.

Barley was one of the earliest crops cultivated by humans, and it played a large part in kicking-off the first agricultural revolution in the Fertile Crescent around 10,000 years ago. Since then, it followed the flow of human migration and spread all over the world. Being an incredibly nutritious and adaptable food source, able to grow in a wide range of climates and conditions from

View Original

The antibiotic crisis – 50 years on

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics is an alliance of health, medical, civil society and animal welfare groups campaigning to stop the overuse of antibiotics in animal farming. It was founded by Compassion in World Farmingthe Soil Association and Sustain in 2009. Its vision is a world in which human and animal health and well-being are protected by food and farming systems that do not rely on routine antibiotic use.

The 2019 World Antibiotics Awareness week (18-22 November) falls on the 50 year anniversary of the Swann report, a seminal government report that concluded that the overuse of antibiotics in farming was a threat to human health which had already caused human deaths. The Swann report said the intensification of livestock farming had led to more

View Original

What I See: Mid-October views

What I see at this time of year is butterflies searching for a place to hibernate, free from cobwebs and other dangers, and partridges in threes, in every gateway on the farm – in Spring, they are in twos. I see huge and amiable toads and smaller but equally likeable frogs, waiting patiently by the back door for us to open it and let them proceed down the steps to the garden, as they undoubtedly have been doing for millennia, long before our house, begun in 1666, was abruptly placed on their ancient marching route.

I see the last wood vetch in brilliant flower under the oaks in the old woodland. I happily admit this year was the first year

View Original

Why sustainable farming needs Government support

Why sustainable farming needs Government support – Sustainable Food Trust – Sustainable Food TrustVector Smart ObjectmenuVector Smart ObjectSustainable Food Trust Logo

We use cookies to enhance your experience. By continuing to vist this site you agree to our use of cookies.

This summer our Chief Executive Patrick Holden was interviewed about the future of sustainable farming in the current economic and political environment. In this short clip he outlines why the Government needs to make sustainable farming a financially viable option.

[embedded content]

Sign up to our Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest SFT views and

View Original

Farmerama: Compost, soil and community beer

This month, we chat with compost pioneers Dr. David Johnson, a microbiology researcher and Associate at the Centre for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems at Chico State University, California, and his partner, Hui-Chun Johnson, about the breakthrough compost methodology they have devised, called BEAM.

Next, Abby shares some thoughts on soil carbon and soil health, encouraging us not to forget about all the many benefits of improving soil health aside from carbon sequestration. We hear an impassioned call to farming action from Jyoti Fernandes, co-founder of the Landworkers’ Alliance and member of La Via Campesina.

We are very excited to announce a six-part series called CEREAL on the UK Cereals industry, starting Sunday 24th of November. In the series, we ask how the industrial food system

View Original

Small abattoirs facing increasing pressure: What is the future of local meat?

Is the UK’s network of small abattoirs on the brink of collapse? Having lost more than sixty small abattoirs over the past decade, the UK was down to just 108 small red meat abattoirs at the start of this year. Since then, and despite efforts to address some of the problems, a further three have closed. Many more are seriously struggling to stay in business and without urgent action from the Government, we are likely to see a catastrophic loss of small abattoirs across the country. This would have a devastating impact on the future of local food and sustainable farming systems.

Martin Evans, FSA, addresses meeting

At a meeting of

View Original

National Food Strategy: Sustainable Food Trust written response


The Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) welcomes the opportunity to give a written response to the inquiry on this issue and would be pleased to provide further information, or to elaborate on any points.

The SFT is a small UK based organisation, established in 2011, that works in the UK and internationally to accelerate the transition to more sustainable food systems. We focus our work in three main areas:

Leadership and Collaboration: Influencing leaders and policy makers Research and Policy: Enabling policy change based on sound science Communications: Acting as a source of information, sharing ideas and empowering citizens 


We need to link future UK diets to the output of sustainable farming systems.

We need to align what people

View Original

National Food Strategy: Submission from the Campaign for Local Abattoirs

The Campaign for Local Abattoirs submitted evidence to the UK Government’s National Food Strategy in October 2019. The campaign group represents those interested in protecting local abattoirs and the future of local meat, including the Sustainable Food Trust and National Craft Butchers. 

Click here for the pdf version of the submission.


Small abattoirs continue to close due to a harsh economic climate and poorly matched regulations (Campaign for Local Abattoirs, 2018). This creates problems for those supplying local meat markets (Kennard and Young, 2018). While UK beef and lamb producers have seen a downturn in demand recently, anecdotally sales of meat from pasture-fed, organic, free-range, environmental stewardship, or indigenous breeds, are on the increase. This has been helped by

View Original

G’day for a trade deal?

Secretary for International Trade, Liz Truss, believes a free trade deal between the UK and Australia can be agreed and signed quickly, and she’s said that she’d “cross any road for a trade deal”. Similarly, Australian High Commissioner George Brandis said in response that his country is ready to begin trade negotiations with the UK as soon as Brexit is resolved. However, leaked documents from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) make it clear that food standards are at risk through future free trade deals and could cause “irreparable damage”.

Currently, Australian total exports to the UK are worth £6.7 billion. Given the historical connection, the common language and the mature market, it is easy to see why a post-Brexit

View Original

General Election 2019: Our call to all Parties

The future of UK food will be decided by the general election since the next Government will have the responsibility of bringing future agriculture policy into law and setting the direction of travel for UK farming. Consequently, we are calling on all the political parties to state their commitment to UK farmers in their manifestos and to give a high priority to developing an environmentally sustainable and healthy food system.

We urge all parties to adopt our 10 key policies in their 2019 manifestos:

Promote sustainable farming practices that function in harmony with nature Support local food systems, including maintaining a national network of local abattoirs Enshrine the polluter pays principle in law to hold polluters to account for any damaging

View Original