Soil Association 70th anniversary lecture hosted by The Sustainable Angle

21st May 2016     Event The Sustainable Angle

The Sustainable Angle recently hosted the Soil Association’s 70th anniversary lecture as part of our work related to the edible environment and more sustainably grown food. The lecture delivered by Professor Herbert Giradet resonated deeply with the Soil Association’s core principles of closing nutrient cycles, understanding and respecting our fundamental connection with, and dependence on, the natural world.

Source: Soil AssociationSoil Association lecture at Iris Studios London. Source: Soil Association

According to Giradet, “we are living in the age of ‘Petropolis’: Cities powered by fossil fuels and supplied with food from increasingly precarious sources. Land grabbing and growing crops on land unsuited to agriculture is becoming a matter of great concern. Deforestation of tropical forests for food production is causing major ecological problems. Modern farming and global urbanisation are causing climate change. Meanwhile nutrients leaching and soil erosion are undermining humanity’s capacity to feed itself in the long term.”

Giradet believes “we need a new model of the city, ‘Ecopolis’, which goes hand in hand with a new model of organic, regenerative farming. The metabolism of cities needs to encompass the need to keep farmland healthy and naturally productive. The ‘Living Soil’ concept of the Soil Association needs to be incorporated into the give and take between cities and farmland.”

Source: Soil AssociationSoil Association lecture at Iris Studios London. Source: Soil Association

He says “the case study of Adelaide shows how this can be done:  Over a 12 year period, from 2003 to 2015, this city region of 1.2 million people re-established a close connection between itself and its local farmland – 100 per cent return of organic waste, waste water irrigation of nearby farmland and vineyards, and also rapid steps towards mainstreaming renewable energy. This model of regenerative urbanisation is of great significance to other city regions.”

“In various parts of the world appropriate measures are being taken to counter soil erosion and degradation. In the uplands of the Yellow River in China significant measures to replant denuded land and establish organic farming systems are being taken. In London soil from the Cross Rail excavations is being used to help create a new nature reserve on the Essex coast. In Europe and the USA farmers markets, community supported agriculture and free range rearing of farm animals are making rapid strides.”

“But there is no doubt that in the process of building an urban future, humanity is threatening its own future and that the natural world. Much more vigorous measures are needed to establish a viable relationship between an urbanising world and the farmland than feeds it, and the ecosystems that support their long-term wellbeing. We need to act as responsible citizens, parents, voters, consumers and as multipliers of opinion. And we need to support the urgent changes needed financially. This issue needs far more attention that it is currently getting.  Let us trust that we are up to the challenge to deal with it.”

Source: Soil AssociationSoil Association lecture at Iris Studios London. Source: Soil Association

The Soil Association has been campaigning on this for 70 years, and it does now feel that the doors are opening a little, for the solutions we have to offer. At the recent Westminster Neonicotinoid Scientific Briefing, with a broad cross section of interests groups represented; it was hard for anyone, even the agrochemical companies, to make the case for continued routine use of these or other pesticides. This gives us an unprecedented chance to show what organic and ecological approaches can do to ensure that these chemicals are just not needed anymore.