A Conversation About the Power of Regenerative Agriculture: 

Patrick Holden, Founding Director, The Sustainable Food Trust


Worked for Soil Association and set up the Sustainable Food Trust

Runs dairy farm – see photo of slide for more information.

Worked in policy areas and the economics of food and farming.

We have a situation in the UK where it is currently more profitable to farm intensively.

The importance of engaging with individuals otherwise change will not happen.

We are currently at the tipping point of change, especially with the rise of the internet.

Idea of microcosm and macrocosm – we need individual change as well.

My own personal epiphany was to do with soil. I have a new perspective on soil and grazing management and recognise the difference between knowledge and understanding.

David Wilson at Highgrove described the soil as being the stomach of the plant. Symbiosis of fungi and bacteria in the soil. This reflects the human biome – there are more organisms in the body than cells. Breakthroughs such as faecal implants demonstrate the relationship between our own health (our stomach ‘soil’) and the health of the soil on our farms.

We can increase the biological fertility of the soil just as we can eat the right things to increase our own health.

I am currently using holistic grazing management on the farm. It is 239metres above sea level. Cows get fresh grass every 12 hours. The soil has responded by increased plant complexity.

Richard Young of the SFT has campaigned for many years against the misuse of antibiotics in agriculture. He challenged the argument from the Eating Better Coalition to eat less meat (see his argument here.). Ruminants are not only important but essential. The ratio of Omega 3 to 6 in the meat of grass-fed animals is extremely beneficial health-wise.

The importance of challenging orthodoxies!

We need to adjust the diet of people to sustainable farming systems. There is too much conflicting dietary advice. We need to connect with people and encourage them to change their eating.

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