Buy food from your local farm

| 16th April 2020
Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) says consumers should use online farm shops and markets to buy good-value fresh, sustainable and seasonal produce direct.

We know many of the farmers have a good supply of food but it's connecting it with the public.

Shoppers are being urged to buy fresh, seasonal and sustainable food directly from farmers during the pandemic - and to take care not to waste it.

People are also being encouraged to find their local farms and help harvest food if they have the time, as the UK is facing a potential shortage of 80,000 workers due to Covid-19.

The Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) said consumers could seek out online farm shops or markets and buy good-value fresh, sustainable and seasonal produce direct.

Lambing

And the network is urging people not to waste food, more than a third of which is thrown away worldwide, by not stockpiling, planning their shopping trips carefully, buying only what is needed and using up leftovers.

A report from the NFFN said supporting farmers who are farming in ways that look after the landscape and wildlife and tackles climate change and its impacts such as drought, would help ensure more resilient food supplies.

The report highlights the work of nature-friendly farmers around the UK and what they are doing in the pandemic.

They include Sally-Anne Spence, from Berrycroft Farm, Wiltshire, who is supporting those who need extra help in her village, and has taken sheep off nearby fields so people can exercise on them with their dogs off the lead.

Her family is also posting updates on nature on the village Facebook page and sharing videos of the lambing barn.

Connecting

Polly Davies who farms organic Slade Farm, Glamorgan, with her family, said they had lost volunteers who help plant, weed and prepare vegetables, and at the same time had seen a large boost to their veg box scheme, where they were prioritising villages around the farm and NHS workers.

David Walston, of Thriplow Farms, Cambridgeshire, has started a "Coveg" community vegetable growing scheme for local people to grow food and then distribute it to whoever needs it most.

Jock Gibson of Edinvale Farm in Scotland had "sleepless nights" because most of his produce on his farm, where his highland and shorthorn cattle are grazed in ways that protect soils and boost wildflowers and wildlife, is destined for restaurants.

But he has managed to rapidly realign his business and people are now buying from the local shop or ordering online, he said.

Martin Lines, a Cambridgeshire farmer and chairman of the NFFN said: "We know many of the farmers have a good supply of food but it's connecting it with the public.

Emergency

"Many of the supply chains have been cut off, and many farmers have changed their business models to get food to the consumers more directly."

Farmers who already had websites or farm shops were "overwhelmed" with interest from shoppers looking to buy direct and were struggling to keep up with the massive surge in demand.

But other farmers needed to be supported to make the move to selling directly to shoppers, at a time when empty shelves had put the focus on where people's food came from.

Food bought directly from farmers was not necessarily more expensive, Mr Lines said, and could provide producers with more income while consumers got better value for the money they spend.

He urged consumers to support farmers who were farming in a way that looked after the landscape better, adding: "We still have a climate and ecological emergency and we still need to address those challenges."

This Author

Emily Beament is the PA environment correspondent.

MERCH

T-shirt