Future of Farming
Vim: hi, it's Vimla Appadoo,
Tim: and I'm Tim Panton.
Vim: And you're listening to the distributed features podcast today is a really interesting episode talking about the future of farming and food consumption Our Guest was Abby Rose from Vidacycle a physicist.
who set up her own farming company when she saw how far her family's Farm is doing and Chille are just a really really interesting story, but it got me thinking a lot about you know, climate change the current state of affairs and actually our consciousness as Society over the things that we wear in the food that we eat and I think there's been a shift slightly in the last kind of maybe five or six years to to be more conscious of that.
Tim: Yeah. I mean for sure although I think it gets it's very complicated understanding because of like how manufacturing works. Knowing where things come from is actually like you need a spreadsheet half the time to work out why the ingredients have got there from and what their carbon footprint is and those sorts of things and I think like there's a huge amount of kind of complexity and in the end you basically have to take it at least some degree of trust in your immediate supplier that they've done their work.
Tim: and present you. Which is
Vim: I think it's when you start looking at global trade links. Right begin to scratch under the surface. So the things that I is a consumer take for granted. So if I buy a British Apple, for example, my assumption is that that British Apple has been grown on a British farm and has gone straight from Farm to store.
But in reality the British Farmers growing the Apple, they get picked they get sent abroad to be washed and cleaned then get sent back to the UK and distributed and it's when you start realizing. I think that even when you think you're doing the right thing and buying the right stuff that they're still this this Global Link that isn't spoken about and that's what worries me.
Tim: Yeah. I mean it's not coming back to my point. It's not visible. I mean it's happening but you're not like it's not explained to you and to be fair if the whole process was explained to you that you've been next week before you bought the Apple. When I had this kind of brought home to me a while ago in in a in a big way and I was I was on this island where there's one flight a week and one boat a month.
And and so I think the provenance of things is really clear, you know, if you haven't grown it on the island, then it's been imported and it came probably almost certainly came last month on the boat and. There is times when there's rough seas in the boat doesn't duck for a couple of months
Tim: which point you start to become.
I mean not that I was there for that but the Islanders are dependent on what they can grow for themselves what they can fish for themselves and it's a different it's a very different mentality the thing that I had this. It really kind of wake up experience route. I had this absolutely beautiful.
Perfect. Tuna steak in a restaurant there and. And then like a week later, I went back to the restaurant and try to run the to order the Tuna of state and the woman who ran it said. No, I'm sorry. We don't have any tuna steak. I'm like, how does that happen? How do you have your the best thing on your menu not available.
So I was wouldn't quite that rude to her. But I said, you know, why not? She said my son didn't go fishing today.
Tim: and I mean that tells you two things one a bit which is why it was such a good steak is because like that have been caught the day that day by the staff effectively or by the family downside is that if they've got other priorities like he's mending his boat or you know, he's helping a friend round up some pigs or something then it doesn't happen.
So yeah, I think it's part of it for me is our consumerist obsession with getting what we want we go to the shop with a very clear idea that we want apples. We're not in season. We still want apples and they'll come from New Zealand.
It's getting what we want and getting it now so that and I'm as guilty of this as anyone of one want right being on Amazon seeing something getting it delivered the next day and that mentality is something I really want to consciously
prune out with myself like it's not it's not a sustainable way of living. It's just yes and even the kind of Health Food trends that we see so avocados or quinoa or whatever that they aren't grown here and our expectation that we have them all year round. We totally ignore the impact that that has on Farmers abroad and what it means for their lifestyle.
And as soon as the trend Fades or stops how that kind of impact their life livelihood. So if we all of a sudden stop by and quinoa in the UK what happened to the farmers in Peru that have given up their lives to just Farm quinoa because of the demand
Tim: right? I mean comming back to your thing about the kind of instant gratification I think
there's Hope there because one can just retrain it slightly because I mean what we used to do and to extent I still do do is you go into a Greengrocer and you see what looks nice and you buy it for tonight's Tea is that instant like, you know buying something now for today. You get that Rush. It's just that you can't go in there with a preconception about what it's going to be you.
Tim: see what it is that that looks nice that would be able to do that day and be a bit more spontaneous about it.
Tim: actually I'm I love doing that. I'd you know, I find that you have to be a bit creative about what you're going to cook with it in the end. But but I really do, you know, I find that quite satisfying way of kind of
being I mean the downside is that there's a sort of you know season when the only thing you can get is no kale or something.
Vim: Yeah, I do the same so I get a local vegetable box delivered. So it's all local farms. Whatever's in season they put in so half the time I have no idea what the vegetables are because it's not what you get in the supermarket, but it means I only cook the things that.
In this veg box because that's my shopping for the week. And it's in it's meant that my diets become more varied and I know by I'm only supporting local farmers, so it's really shifted that planning aspect. It's quite nice because it's taking the stress out of what am I going to eat tonight? Because I'm only going to eat what they give me,
Right. Well, I mean. Exactly, what you're going to do with it is still you still scope for being creative about it. But like you say the kind of infinite Choice problem doesn't drop up which is nice. I mean, I you know, I think that that's good. Well,
Vim: I really do and it's yeah, it's almost like rationing in a weird way.
Is that what this is? This is my share for the week. What am I going to do? How am I going to make it last? What am I going to add to it to make it? Make it nice.
Tim: Yeah, I think the seasonality of it is also kind of is nice. I mean, you know, there's certain sorts of vegetable that really don't work in high summer and during the winter and you know, I don't know if that's because we kind of been brought up eating them in the winter or whether it's like intrinsic to the vegetable.
I don't know but like I think that that is the case.
Vim: Hmm, but there's something really interesting as well about receiving all your vegetables and they are covered in mud. And like really it just brings it back home that you know, this is stuff that is grown and someone's put in their effort to kind of put it out of the ground get it to me that you just lose in big supermarkets.
You lose that sense of feeling with the farmer.
Tim: Right? Right. I mean, I I like farmer's markets for that to some extent and and I don't know what you're saying about the veg boxes, although. I quite often the veg boxes don't necessarily have the things in them that you would choose for other reasons not necessarily seasonality, but like, you know.
They just don't grow them in in your neck of the woods like yeah, you know that's sort of rules out Tomatoes if you're not in the Southeast or something, you know, but that I think that's pretty much that's quite problematic. I mean,
Vim: it's where you going over warming has its benefit. Yeah.
Tim: Well, or a greenhouse, you know, it's do able.
either the way but
Vim: yeah, but it was interesting to start. Hearing about how technology is being used to help farmers internationally Supply Mass markets. So from understanding your soil content through to your crops and what needs to be done. And yeah that whole kind of crop management cycle because the shift from local farming to Industrial farming.
Has had the biggest impact and I can't remember the statistic but it was really shocking about the percentages of farming for feeding us and feeding the food that we eat. So we spend more time farming for for our animals that we consume versus the the actual foods that we want to eat.
Tim: Oh, yeah know that the efficiency of most.
And unless you're vegan
is is like, you know is a huge problem, you know beef for example is a immensely consume consumes huge resources, just you know per kilo of beef you're looking at enough to feed, you know, I can't I don't know the statistics but but huge huge ratios, I mean that to some extent.
That's less true. We look at like sheep on Hill Farms the argument always was that well, actually, they aren't places where you could grow anything else.
Tim: and therefore, you know having sheep grazing your whole Farm is it is a as efficiently use of the land as you're going to get and so, you know, that's legitimate now again, I don't know the numbers for that and I don't know how like how steep your Hill has to be before.
That's actually true.
Vim: Yeah. Yeah, no, it's really interesting. I don't I don't know enough about it at all. But I also think there's a kind of equality problem here
we are privileged enough to have this as a problem and a provision has to be doing something about it, but it's only because we can access.
It's accessible to us. Whereas for a lot of people these kind of choices just aren't even they're not available. So what is it that can shift over the next 10 years to make a real impact for everyone. Not just the people that can afford to access it. That's that's the big thing for me.
Tim: I think I mean the conversation that I've had around
this has been the. If as one expects transport costs go up dramatically, you know because of carbon taxes and environmental concerns, then a lot of this gratuitously be shipping your apples to Peru because it's cheaper to wash them there or whatever it is that happens. Thought that becomes much less economic because the moment shipping is still relatively cheap.
Although it's quite environmentally damaging and whether it's there's there's already moves to make that less the case that make shipping more expensive.
Tim: and that I think will shift a lot of that a lot of that. Price advantage and then that just change starts to change Behavior.
Vim: Yeah, and
maybe you do see that now anyways, well kind of it happens all the time doesn't that prices have dropped so people got used to things being cheaper, but the address can happen when prices rise people get used to paying more.
Tim: Yeah or or buying different things. I mean, I think that's the that's the interesting aspect. Is that like if you start to see that. You know buying pears in season is sensible. But buying pears out of season is insane and then you'll buy pairs in season and your bottle them like or yeah bottle pairs the rest of the year or whatever like, you know, and and and enjoy them, you know.
Yeah, I think that's the trick the only other piece of farming that I think I've which I guess wasn't covered is is the whole kind of. Indoor industrial farming like Hydroponics.
Yeah, we didn't touch on that side.
Love to try and get somebody on to talk about that as well because
Vim: I think the people that I can speak to about that.
Tim: that would be really interesting because I think that's that's like that's the sort of 90-degree other angle of this is yeah, like, how do you. Go from like there's a mix of very. Kind of not exactly Back To Nature, but much more kind of pragmatic stuff that you're talking about.
I mean still high tech but but to do with like respecting the soil and whatever and then another set of people who are going off and saying we'll look this is just let's just throw a hundred and ten percent of the science at this let's let's like really
Vim: on its head completely
Tim: totally science there.
Whatever. What's your great idea where so
Tim: let's really throw the science book at it and and you know will grow these things in vertical farms in warehouses in you know, densely populated areas. And then the food miles are shorter,
a. At this conversation with somebody and I can't remember it was which is annoying but one of the advantages she saying if you like it's really short food miles.
If you grow these things in City warehouses, then like they're on your doorstep already.
Vim: Yeah, great,
Tim: which is kind of I'd still getting my head around that. But anyway
Vim: I think that is a perfect point to leave it and to introduce the podcast
Abby: my name is Abby Rose and I run a company called Vitacycle as well as a podcast showing the voices of the smaller scale farming movement called farmerama and I can explain a little more about Vita cycle.
Vim: Yeah, a
little bit about both.
Actually, that'd be great.
Abby: Totally, okay. So about 12 years ago now my parents started farming in Chile. And that are it's a small family farm and prior to that. I hadn't really had any experience of farming. Yeah almost thought it was more like I don't know boring or something, which is really bad to admit now what it was I was just not engaged and then actually.
After uni, I went and lived and worked on the farm for a while and started to realize that actually farming is the main interaction that we as Humanity have with the natural world.
Abby: and that actually farmers are some of the most important people on the planet in terms of the decisions. They make will actually affect us all.
Yeah more that more than we know and so from then I became more obsessed with farming and Vita cycle is really it's a combination or it means life cycle and it's a recognition of the Chilean English Connection because Vida is life in Spanish, okay. And
Vim: do you think that was like an aha moment for you when you when you moved back to the farm as I kind of like a trigger point that was like I need to do something about this.
Abby: Yeah, I guess it was. It was as I started to realize that so for example on our farm, you know, we were planting trees, but also there's a creek on farm and Creek was starting to run dry
Abby: for large parts of the Year where it hadn't before right and and you know that gets kind of scary because we don't have any access to agricultural canals or anything.
All our water comes from the land. And I guess the main reason that is is because we're surrounded by all these pine forests. I mean 10,000 hectares of Pines industrial Pine agriculture, basically and other things that are just essentially sucking up all the water and so I just started to realize that actually, you know, the decisions that farms and Forestry operations were making.
Had a huge impact not just on their own Farmland, but also on everything around and then also the towns and Villages nearby, you know, suddenly the water is not as accessible.
Abby: and you see the same thing in the UK where you know, flooding a large part of flooding can be attributed to changes in Landscape Management.
Abby: And that's just you know, simple things like cutting down a tree or a series of trees and or degrading soils just you know, not on purpose but because you you know, you have a business and you want to keep sewing those potatoes or cropping those potatoes that essentially means that. Later on flooding could be caused in a nearby Village.
Yeah, definitely and it's that kind of ecosystem between everything that we do everything that we think everything that we consume has a knock-on effect to someone else in the world and more often than Apples. That's kind of farmers.
Vim: , but
can you tell us a bit more about what Vida cycle does as a platform?
Abby: Yes, sorry, yes, so I studied physics originally and so. One thing I saw that I could really help with on small to medium scale Farms like our own is to build digital tools or apps essentially software that enables small to medium term scale Farmers to build ecology profitability and Beauty on their Farms.
Well, so we have one version of the app is called sector Mentor.
Abby: And so one version of the app sector Mentor for soils is all about empowering Farmers to go out and monitor their own soil Health through very like Visual and physical observations. So it's almost like a learning opportunity at the same time as documenting how you're seeing your soils evolve over time.
Yeah, and the app really helps you to record all these observations as you go and on our website. Soils.Sectormentor.com we have protocols for all the different soil tests you can do that's freely available to anyone.
Abby: and so yeah farmers are really learning about you know, if they try Grazing In this way, is that building soil health or if they try this clover crop is it actually having the impact they want?
Vim: Yeah only thing I'm
staying with. The kind of industrial scale of farming now, so, you know over history farming's always existed. We've always needed a way to sustain ourselves and we've gone from kind of small family Holdings to these larger more industrial scales. And I think that's where the where I see that kind of conflicts between traditional ways of farming that have always been about, you know, keeping the land as nourished.
You can to make sure you keep getting crops through to Farmers. Much as you can to ensure you get the profit. What would you say has been the biggest change over the last maybe 10 years since you've been at your at your family farm.
Abby: Well, certainly in the last 10 years. I would say I mean I completely agree with your narrative there and I think in the last 10 years things that that narrative is sort of starting to fall apart,
Abby: So, you know, even if I look five years ago when I started really engaging with the farming community in the UK. Yeah at that time it was still very much, you know, the only way to make money in farming is to scale. And it was all about that chemical agriculture or industrial agriculture really was the way we were going to feed the world.
And then in the last five years, basically, I guess a lot of it is about depressed commodity prices. So the wheat on the commodity Market is just selling for so little money that it doesn't really make sense for Farmers to grow it.
Abby: But they continue to grow it because it's you know, it's part of their system and it's what they've always done.
Yeah, so they are looking for Alternatives where they don't need to put in as many inputs or as many chemicals because that's a big part of the cost. And therefore they are, you know, looking to build soil Health as a way to keep cropping, you know, keep being able to plant. Crops and grow them effectively and sell them but at a much lower cost and that is really exciting that is kind of at the core of the regenerative agriculture movement is like actually.
How can I grow? Anything really without all these inputs and that that is part of the answer to feeding the world because I think one step that's come out in the last five years. That was really interesting from that FAO the food and agriculture organization is that 70 percent of the world's food is comes from small-scale farms.
Abby: Using 30% of the world's resources or the agricultural resources and then 30 percent of the world's food comes from industrial farming using 70% of the world's agricultural resources.
Abby: so I just think that stat is kind of mind-boggling. Yeah.
Vim: I mean, how does that work? And what's happening there?
Abby: Well my. Understanding of why that's true is because actually a lot of industrial agriculture doesn't grow food for humans my it's not feeding the world. So for example, a lot of the you know, a huge amount of the GM soybeans and wheat that's grown actually goes to feed animals or there's a lot of GM stuff that also goes to.
Creating energy biofuels.
Vim: Yeah, you
Abby: know some not a neither of those is feeding people. I think therefore it's not really food.
Vim: Yeah, it's feed our food.
Abby: Yeah, feed our food or energy. Yeah, or who knows where I'll see what else it goes into I guess, you know, you could look at and sorry that I said GM about those cases, but obviously it's not just GM crops.
There's huge amounts of grains grown in the UK that go to feed animals. Yeah, so it's all over really
Vim: yeah, and in terms of kind of what people and how people are using vida cycle. What would you say the biggest? That's
farmers and the way that they're doing doing what they do?
Abby: Yeah. Okay.
Well in terms of the soil app, I would say it's what we've only. It's only been around about just over a year now. And what we're seeing is that actually Farms big and small are using it as their their way to this. This idea of becoming regenerative is really a journey.
Abby: and so you can use this well as your guide.
So, you know you start and they've you've been using the app to get a baseline. So go and look at Key indicator fields and see you know, what state is it in now and then go look the next year and see. Okay. Well, you know last year we actually tried growing a different type of crop and we enter you know, intercropped it with Clover.
Abby: how you know now what does the soil look like? And this is all part of the regenerative Journey. So they're using it as a benchmarking tool almost along the way and its really good way to communicate it to everyone on the farm as well. Yeah, so it's a way of monitoring. We also have a version of the app that specifically for agroforestry or for trees my and then another version that specifically for Vineyards.
Vim: All right.
Abby: Yeah, and I think the. Vineyards, there's some really you know, that is the industry where I've seen some really amazing results that have even really surprised me. Like one thing that Vineyards do is the balance of the vine is really important and it's a real art and craft to be able to have a Vine that produces really top quality grapes year in year out without losing health.
And so one thing they do is they monitor how much they prune you from each fine each year. And so we have found that by looking at Trends in pruning weights.
Abby: year-on-year you can actually see basically they think about two years in advance whether a Vine is starting to lose find health. So.
That means you can then like proactively apply for example compost to build up the vines health and so rather than. Two years down the line you find the vines got disease and then you have to apply a foliar feed or you know, which is a more sort of reactive way
Abby: by using the app to help you monitor.
What's going on in the vineyard? You can be more proactive and therefore more ecological in a way.
and I think the kind of my assumption is with farming. There's so much left up to unpredictability is
weather. It depends on. Last year's yield how that might affect this year's you was and like all of the stuff that I don't even know the basics of but in my head, it's like it's really unpredictable spectrum of uncertainty and I got some tools that we can use to try and help limit that unpredictability.
There's always going to be helpful
Abby: totally get your your spot on there and I think. You know in the in a way you can understand why so many farmers have chosen chemical agriculture because that also is a way of limiting your risk,
Vim: right? Yeah,
Abby: because you know, if it doesn't look good you apply more but I think.
I completely agree. And I also think actually there's a community aspect to that in a sense. That's why CSA is or community community supported agriculture schemes or so exciting because it's a way of you know, people like yourself and myself. Recognizing that the farmers in our community are taking on a lot of risk when it comes to planting things and that we will share in that risk by putting up some money up front.
Vim: Yeah. Yeah. I think it is really interesting and I mean going to that kind of chemical. Based agriculture. I just have a small chillie plant in my flat and it got bugs and my instinct was what can I get to kill these bugs immediate thing was just get a get a chemical and kill them and I was like, wait what I
is not like that's not a good thing to do, but it is it's just the easiest it's the simplest and quickest
under to make that a double.
Abby: And you can just look at how many people use Roundup in their Gardens or no and I in our cities and all the pavement sidewalks. Yeah, you know, we are very down on the agricultural industry for using Roundup or glyphosate at agricultural level, but then it is a simple quick fix in the city and I guess yeah, it's just about understanding.
Why people do it?
Abby: and and and yeah, and I do think it's really important not advocating for its use by the way. I'm just saying that there's always it's not as black and white as people some people make out
Vim: and you
easy to forget that this is someone's livelihood
exactly. I why
would they jeopardize that in any way if there's a solution out there?
Vim: And when you when you think of it in those kind of real human terms where the consumer and we demand this food all year round. If we didn't would that change the way people farm
Abby: exactly I think yeah, I completely agree with you there and that, you know Farms are businesses fundamentally or that's the way that we as a society have set it up.
Abby: and therefore. If you look at you know how a business functions it's it's all about the market. I mean that was the one thing to acknowledge. Obviously. It's a in this country. We have a lot of subsidies for Farmers So that obviously does change things slightly.
Abby: not lightly, but I do still think that you know the way we demand food.
Could drastically change the way that farming is done.
Oh a hundred percent, I think. And then this is me being overly pessimistic, but we eat more now than we ever have. We have more processed food now than we ever have and we have a much more International palette than we've ever had those three things together for me create this massive environmental burden and not just in terms of farming but export and import and.
Just how far our food has to travel for us to enjoy it and like all of these things that just mean we. We're not seeing food as a way of sustaining ourselves anymore. It's a social aspect to enjoy and the night in town on the that like I love eating those me there. That's probably the first thing I'd say but it is that kind of recognition that it's not sustainable.
Vim: particularly as kind of global populations grow. Like what do you think the future looks like for farming?
Abby: Yeah, well, I think that. I really think that actually AS Global populations grow regenerative agriculture really could support everyone because I I mean I'm talking in the abstract about regenerative agriculture and I think you know people have different ideas of what that means.
Abby: but it's essentially at its core. It's. A focus on soil health is being almost the most important thing on a farm in. First and foremost and then it about it's a lot about eat. There's a whole system on the farm. So the ecosystem and really mimicking natural systems around you and listening and learning from those natural systems to inform.
You know, what you grow how you manage it all those things? Yeah, so. Yeah, I really think that that has huge potential to transform many different Landscapes. Like there's a guy called John D Lu who has he his first project that he did or that I've seen. Was a project in China it was done in an area that had become huge area that had become seriously desertifide right mainly through human use and overgrazing and I kind of thing and and in a 10-year timeline he working with many many people there.
They were able to transform that landscape into like. It looks like a you know, this green Utopia.
and to me if you you know, if you farm with the natural world in mind.
Abby: you can you know water does start to flow again in places where it just seems like this is going to be desert forever.
And trees have amazing potential to form microclimates and reduce temperature by it, you know, like a good amount of degrees in a in a location. Yeah, because they create these microclimates so I think. We need to really look to those kinds of models. So whether that's agroforestry systems or silver pasture, which is essentially animals Grazing In amongst trees.
Yeah. And yeah animals have a big part to play in regenerating Landscapes because you know, they've been on the land certainly as long as we have. Yeah, and and so everything sort of works together. Yeah, so I don't know if that answers your question exactly, but that
Vim: well, I think it's a starting point for us
A lot of what you said in there. It's kind of looking holistically around all of the players that were part of this. So I guess my next question is like what do you think we as individuals can be doing to help transform the future or even make the future sustainable?
Abby: Yeah, it's I guess it all depends.
But let's just take yourself and I will both live and in cities most of the time so the main actions that I think we can take is to engage with like a community supported agriculture scheme. Yeah. So I think that is a brilliant way to access food that is seasonal. And somewhat local and if possible, you know, you have a conversation with the people growing the food and talk to them about, you know, are they if they're not organic than are they looking to reduce inputs?
You know, what are they doing about that? How are they working with the system's I mean obviously. Not everyone has the time to be able to be asking those questions. Yeah, and you could argue not everyone has also definitely not everyone has the economic resource. Although a lot of csas do have the ability for subsidized lunch boxes.
Yeah, or and they aren't particularly expensive compared to the equivalent stuff in a supermarket. Yeah.
Yeah, totally and then the other thing like a lot of farms now are selling directly like through Instagram and so. The nice thing about that is you can almost follow the story and you can start to learn for yourself and see if you know, okay cool. They you know, they're really focused on soil health and okay.
Yeah. I do want to for example buy half a lamb from that farm because I recognize the value it's bringing. To everyone.
Abby: and to me that's a completely different way of eating meat if you choose to do that then just going to a supermarket and buying meat as such so yeah, I think the other thing that comes up that's just started to really come on my radar is about.
Abby: And yeah, I kind of I was kind of shocked by some stats. I read the other day that a quarter of the world's pesticide use is actually used on Cotton.
Vim: Yeah. Yeah, I know and
Abby: I just thought wow,
Cotton is supposed to
Vim: be the good guy.
Abby: I know so I think that increasingly in the next five years. We will see much greater questioning and accountability around our clothing and fiber hmm and sourcing of our fiber and.
You know, how are we going to create fiber systems that don't kill all the pollinators. For example.
Vim: Yeah, we can say it seems so disjointed from reality. It's kind of when you're in a shop in 10 seconds to look a label to see. Where it's coming from what it's made of and that's it like that. It's not any different to when you check a food label to see how much fat and salt was in it or you know, whatever.
It might be.
Abby: Yep. Totally.
Vim: There's such a big shift in consumer behavior. And I think it's especially as you kind of have the war one fast fashion that too. Okay, this you know focus on social media and aesthetic and Who's got what on Instagram and
that type of thing.
Abby: Yeah. Yeah, exactly and I think.
Yeah, more and more I guess some of it is just a shift in Behavior away from buying things.
Abby: but also. You know, I guess you know, there are things like hemp as which is starting to be grown more in the UK. Although it is quite heavily. There's a lot of legal Frameworks around it here in the UK anyway, but you know, there is great potential for hemp fibers in clothing and I think.
you know the other side to that the problematic side is that of course, there's plenty of plastic based clothing fibers. which also aren't great know. So yeah, we really need Innovation. And can I get I think also just the fact that most people you know, when you buy clothes you don't connect it to farming.
No, you don't I'll tell you can't connect it to the factories.
Yeah, you process
almost stops there. It's kind of like, I don't know
really it does.
Abby: Yeah, it's a funny thing. So I think maybe also there's something about just increasing awareness that actually obviously not plastic based ones, but most any natural fibers come from farms.
Abby: and that's also part of the farming discussion going forward. Yeah for everyone.
Vim: I think
I read a statistic the other day that said the majority of plastic that's in the sea comes from clothes.
is yeah, which is terrifying just don't think of it. But even to the point where we don't really recycle clothes now, you might give it to a charity shop, but we don't encourage recycle it in the same way.
You do your Plastics and paper and Tin.
Abby: Yeah, totally. Yeah right
Vim: notice. I'm not sure why
Abby: no, it seems. It's just yeah, but I think there are some interesting projects happening around fashion and obviously sustainable fashion is a growing kind of field and the ideas of slow fashion and certainly from a farming perspective.
I'm quite excited. There's this movement called fiber sheds in the u.s. Right and that's all about localizing. I guess fashion systems or Fiber production. In systems and they have done a brilliant job of connecting up the farm to the processors. So people who are weaving or dying or tanning Etc and then to the designers who you know, turn it into.
Pieces of clothing or whatever it is. And I think that you know, their fiber sheds are popping up all over the world. Yeah, and some are just starting in the UK as well. So I think that's really exciting.
Vim: Absolutely. That's
the first time I've had a little bit sounds really exciting.
Abby: Mmm totally and and there was you know, I was talking to a young designer the other day called Alice Robinson and her collection from her
MA was she had taken a sheep from her local farmer in Shropshire when she had.
Use the whole sheep everything from the Sheep. So for her final collection, so the burns everything had made up the whole collection and then she served the meat at her show and I think. What I think is brilliant about it is it really makes you realize the connection between the farm? Yeah and the clothing or accessories or whatever it was.
She made all it's almost a bit of a shock.
Vim: We are definitely you don't make the connection. That probably should be made between the food that we eat and the things that we were
I mean I'm making a mess of assumption now, but I'm assuming the it isn't done that way like the sheep that killed for meat there will write bne Harvest to make.
Abby: yep, you're absolutely right that a lot of wool a lot of cow hides are burned my because you're right at the abattoir, you know, it's like too expensive to ship it here or because yeah and away it goes back to your very first point, which was that as the systems become more industrial.
Yeah. Although in some ways the system looks more efficient it actually in other ways is much less efficient because there's much higher or there's more waste. Yeah because things aren't you know, financially it doesn't make sense for a company who's focused on who knows how many cows you know, they're processing for meat.
They don't care about the hides and they just write it off.
So yeah, it's interesting kind of one of the things that really excited me that happened two years ago was it was the first time I'd ever heard about a farm downsizing. So it was a Thousand Acre Farm in Denmark and they split it up into 10 100 Acre Farms because they saw that that was a more efficient efficient is the wrong word but a more.
Maybe ecological and profitable way of managing a farm was actually at that scale. And I thought that was really exciting.
Vim: Yeah, yeah, definitely and I think you know even trying to encourage ourselves to only eat fruit and veg that's in season is a great example in point. So not expecting to have. Is it while I mean, I love mango but anger in the UK is probably a good starting point because
written that, you know, we need to try all like having it as a treat instead of every day.
because even though we can afford it and where. we're lucky enough to be able to import it doesn't make it. Okay.
Abby: Absolutely, and I think. But one interesting thing about this whole you know, I talked a lot about local.
Abby: but I don't think you know, I've actually there's a few people in the UK food and farming world who are gosh.
Where's she from? There's a lady called Momma Dee and her Origins. I can't she's from a country in Africa. Yeah, anyway, so, you know, she talked a lot about actually in some ways the local narrative from her perspective could be seen as like quite. In opposition to the I you know, we went out the UK went out and colonized and then now they're saying actually we're not going to take anything from these countries.
We colonized and this idea of like just stopping International Trade,
Vim: right? Yeah,
Abby: and that the local narrative could be quite like a also almost xenophobic.
Narrative and so she's does she did some workshops that made me, you know, really think about that and I do think you know, we need to recognize.
There's something about long life high-value products that actually you know, certain amount of global trade is a positive and it opens up people's minds and it provides, you know, it's a way of Distributing funds around the world in a way and it's yeah, it acknowledges the beauty of other other countries what they can produce yeah.
So I think like with the example of mangoes is just like could you you know, could the mangoes be dehydrated? Yeah, and then ship shipped around, you know, and it could be then shipped by sailboat. Yeah, and so we need to find ways of making trading of those goods just much more. I guess it will lower carb lower carbon.
Less carbon-intensive. Yeah, and and more positive for the countries also that the goods are coming from
good point like we've set up this International global trading system that now supports other countries as their main source of income so too because in the west we've had the sudden Awakening to our impact on the climate doesn't mean we can jeopardize.
That whole ecosystem, you know, it's
Abby: yeah and I think that in a way that's what excites me about the idea of small farmer networks. Yeah is like the more that we can. Build those networks and have cooperatives that you know, almost talk to each other and find ways of building these alternative global trading systems that work for people and planet that could be that's a really exciting future for me.
Abby: I don't know about you
Vim: definitely I think the the whole future of
One learning to farm ourselves. So let you say either supporting a Community Cooperative or finding an alotment or even like windowsill farming
to how we can become more conscious of the things we buy and like wear through to the changes that are happening International scale of connected farming and.
I don't know. There's something that there's something about just being able to take but a stock of what's being produced at an international level and where that's going and who is feeding but I don't know if I'm being too optimistic about this now.
Abby: I think that's right because you know, I think in a way the horror stories are the stories of you know, they produce the mangoes in.
I don't know where most mangoes are produced actually, I mean but okay, let's say they produce blueberries in Chile. For example, you don't know about that and then they're shipped to I don't know Morocco because that's where a processing unit is and then they're shipped back to the United States.
You know, that kind of weird Global Supply chains where. Processing is done, you know things are shipped Elsewhere for no real reason other than other than to process them at a cheaper price. So then get them back to the people who are going to be able to buy them. I don't know. I find that that's really dark to me.
Vim: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I you know, it's. You just have subscriptions of the surface to see what this is happening. You know, I think it's apples in the UK is shipped to and to a country in Africa to be cleaned to then be shipped back to the UK to sold and these are these are British Farms that are having to do that too small of Britain, but you will you as consumers still buying British apples thinking it.
Not had that Journey but it has
yeah, that's where I
might know that's straight up lying to your consumer
Abby: and yeah,
totally and in a way it's so exactly you know, what you said about understanding as to being able to see the supply chain or Supply networks is actually important and I guess that is another place that technology can help there's apps like Provenance, you know that are really trying to address.
Exactly those issues and make that all more transparent. Yeah, so there is there's potentially hope
Vim: yeah, yeah, definitely and what and what role do you see what you're doing playing playing in the future in the next 10 years, for example?
Abby: Well, that's a good question. I guess we were just that's kind.
Well, I guess we haven't spoken at all about farmerama radio know the podcast I make and I think there's a there's huge power in. You know for me, that's about what it's about inspiring people because we share the voices of the smaller scale farming Community from many different countries around the world.
And so people can tune in and they literally hear the voices of farmers elsewhere and realize that we're all working towards the same goal of a more ecological farming future. So I think that's really exciting. But also, you know, ultimately the aim is to share knowledge and for the community to learn together that in the in the idea that that will you know expedite our learning.
And build a more ecological future for all of us more quickly. And also it's about educating people and the hospitality industry or you know, chefs food people interested in food people invested in the climate change narratives, you know, giving them an insight into what it really means to farm and and the things farmers are trying to do.
Yeah, so I think. Yes that for me, you know farmerama radio is really about just really giving a platform for the people who are sort of stuck in with the nitty-gritty doing the work. Yeah and innovating on the front line and then in terms of vidacycle and the apps. The apps really are so that in a very similar way.
It's about enabling other small to medium scale producers who are also really making the shift towards more regenerative practices. To learn together and to thrive that you know in my mind in 10 years time what we'll see in my in my head. There's this amazing visual that's almost like a patchwork quilt.
of all these Farms growing with huge diversity. As part of what they're doing and lots of companion cropping so multiple crops planted in together and lots of wildflowers and just having these super regenerative systems being the most profitable. As well as super ecological and yeah, so that's really what we're aiming to do with the apps is to have those businesses Thrive.
have that become the norm
Vim: that's amazing. And I think that's a great note to end on thank you so much for your time today and for giving us your insights.
Abby: Thank you so much. It's really yeah, I exciting even yeah even just to have people, you know sharing and asking questions from outside the farming Community like thanks for some really great questions and highlighting really important themes.
Thank you so much.