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Latest News

Big Farmland Bird Count - the results are in!

BFBCThe first ever Big Farmland Bird Count took place between the 1st and 7th February this year.  Despite some truly horrible weather across most of the UK, loads of farmers downloaded their recording sheets and got counting on their farms.  We are proud to support such vital monitoring work across the UK.

Much of the good work done by farmers to help reverse farmland bird decline goes unrecorded.  We want to remedy that and help farmers record the effect of any conservation schemes currently being initiated on their land such as supplementary feeding or growing wild bird seed crops and game cover crops. 

This year, over 500 farmers took part in the count and over 90 of you were LEAF Marque certified.  The results were announced on Countryfile on the 13th April and are available to download here.

116 different species were recorded with 11 red list species recorded.  Six of those red-listed species, linnet, yellowhammer, hedge sparrow, tree sparrow, starling and lapwing appeared in the top 25 of birds counted.

If the count has inspired you, perhaps you would like to use LEAF’s Green Box to monitor wildlife populations on your farm.  The Green Box also features monitoring tools for soil, water and air quality.

The Green Box is free to access for LEAF members, simply log in to myLEAF at www.leafuk.org/myLEAF

Save the dates for next year’s Big Farmland Bird Count - 7th and 15th February 2015.

 


 

What's your biggest soil management challenge?

LEAF is launching the first issue of it's new service, LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management Bulletin. The first issue of the new email bulletin service is being issued to all LEAF's members on Friday 7th March and focusses on sustainable soil management. So we’re asking what you think will be the biggest challenge to your soil over the coming year. Please answer the poll below, and it will be followed up on our blog later in the year. The Integrated Farm Management Bulletin is a benefit of LEAF membership, for full details click here.

 


LEAF urges farmers to consider opportunities presented by wet weather

Following recent severe wet weather, which has left hundreds of acres of farmland covered by floodwater, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) is urging farmers to take a longer term view and consider some practical steps they can be taking now, to ensure more sustainable water management going forward. 

Simple steps to assess water drainage on your farm:

  • Walk the fields and waterways (where possible) in extreme conditions as some issues only show up during extreme weather
  • Maintain existing drains to ensure they are free flowing and outflows into ditches are not blocked
  • Manage drainage ditch clearance to ensure optimum water quality levels and to encourage wildlife, in co-operation with neighbours and in line with stewardship agreements
  • Consider establishing field scrapes or reed beds
  • Monitor water quality at field drain outlets
  • Develop field drainage maps and keep them up to date with any changes, such as new drains or outlets
  • Avoid draining environmentally valuable wetland areas and meadows. Wet woodland, wet grassland and wet meadows are very valuable habitats, rich in biodiversity.

Read the full press release here.


 

LEAF conference highlights the economic benefits of sustainable farming

LEAF's President's EventLEAF's President's Event 2013 - Read the blog summary, written live at the event by LEAF Trustee, Cedric Porter 

Experts from across the food and farming sector have urged farmers to realise the economic benefits that sustainable farming delivers.

Speakers at LEAF’s annual President’s Event on 5th November entitled “Sustainable Agriculture: Show me the money”, highlighted the multiple ways in which farmers can maximise the three pillars of sustainability - economic performance , environmental quality and social health - to drive their businesses forward.

Key note speaker Gregor Henderson, Public Health England challenged farmers to realise the full potential of their assets and the social return on investment. He explained that farmers are key players in the promotion of health and wellbeing through farm visits, open days and community engagement. He demonstrated that this approach can deliver benefits for farmers and the wider community.

Download the full press release


 

10,421 Farming Biggest Job on Earth t-shirts given away by BASF

The word is spreading and so are the t-shirts. Since BASF launched its Farming: The Biggest Job on Earth campaign, the company has given away 10,421 t-shirts and anticipate that a further 20,000 will be requested over the coming months.

Commending the campaign, LEAF's Chief Executive, Caroline Drummond said: "LEAF is really proud to support the Farming: The Biggest Job on Earth campaign. By collaborating with others, we can all help raise awareness of what farmers are doing to meet the global challenges of sustainable food production. We can work to develop practical solutions which will enable farmers to make the changes on the ground that are required. Together, we can work towards a more sustainable farming system – for the benefit of all."

Download the press release here.


 

LEAF member crowned the most nature-friendly farmer

After weeks of public voting and a nervous wait for the finalists, LEAF Member, Nicholas Watts has been crowned this year’s winner of the RSPB’s Nature of Farming Awards.

The awards recognise the extra mile that farmers like Nicholas go to to give nature a home on their farms. The competition was tougher than ever this year, with the number of UK finalists increasing from four to eight.  Nicholas entered the competition in order to show that producing food and protecting nature can go hand in hand.

Nicholas, who has been a LEAF member since 1995, farms Vine House Farm, a 2000 acre arable farm in the Lincolnshire Fenlands, together with his son in law Robert and daughter, Lucy.  It is a perfect example of how a large, commercially successful farm can support a diverse range of birds and wildlife.     He grows a wide range of crops including wheat, potatoes, sugar beet and vegetables as well as a range of seed crops for the farm’s wild bird feed enterprise, including many acres of sunflowers.  The farm also has its own farm shop supplying home-grown and locally produced food as well as its own bird feed mixes. He also farms 300 acres of land organically, primarily with wildlife in mind.  You can find out more about the business here.

Since 1982, Nicholas has kept detailed records of the wildlife on the farm, tracking positive and negative changes.  Based on this, he tailors his farming practices to achieve the best possible habitats for wildlife including insect-rich meadows and nectar flower mixtures, arable plants flourishing in cultivated strips and seed rich habitats for sacrificial cereals crops for birds. As a result of his efforts, his farm attracts numerous seed-eating species like tree sparrows, skylarks, corn buntings, chaffinches, greenfinches, linnets and yellowhammers.

Speaking on the award, Nicholas said:

“It was in 1982 when I started recording the breeding birds on the farm but I didn’t realise just how fast they were declining until 1992, and this really worried me. I love farming and I love wildlife especially the birds so I just had to start reversing the decline on my farm. It was about this time when LEAF started so I joined without delay.”

Across the UK more than 13,000 people cast their votes in this year’s RSPB Nature of Farming competition. The public were clearly inspired by the work Nicholas does on his farm to combine profitable farming with environmental care.  Also amongst the finalists, was LEAF member, Richard Bramley from Manor Farm in Kelfield, Yorkshire.  Congratulations to Nicholas, Richard and all the finalists!

Click here for more on all the finalists.


 

M&S demonstrates sustainability credentials with its fresh pork

The LEAF Marque logoAll fresh Outdoor Bred pork sold by Marks & Spencer is now LEAF Marque certified, demonstrating that it has been produced sustainably.

The fresh pork sold through the retailer is produced by family farming business, Mercer Farming which achieved LEAF Marque certification last month. The LEAF Marque is an assurance system which recognises sustainably farmed products. It is based on LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM) principles, which use the best of modern technology and traditional methods to deliver prosperous farming that enriches the environment and engages local communities.

Like all LEAF Marque certified farms, Mercer Farming was independently inspected to ensure it met the stringent sustainability criteria. Integrated Farm Management has always been important for the Staffordshire based farming company; some examples of how this is implemented on the farm include the use of manure from pig units as a natural fertiliser and using their own straw for the pigs to use as bedding.

Click here to download the full press release.


 

World Water Week

1st - 6th September 2013

Throughout this year's World Water Week we will be raising awareness of the importance of good water management in agriculture. As one of the nine sections of Integrated Farm Management, water management is a key part of farming sustainably. For farmers and the food industry, LEAF is here to help.

On our World Water Week page you can find quick links to our resources for farmers and landowners, videos, links to various blog posts and articles, global water statistics and all the tweets from #wwweek.

Click here to see more.


 

LEAF welcomes new Government Agri-Tech Strategy

Agricultural knowledge, science and technology will be crucial in addressing the challenges of moving to more sustainable food production systems. LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) therefore welcomes the new Government Agri-tech Strategy, launched Monday 22nd July.

A £160 million investment into new technologies to help farmers deliver sustainable, healthy and affordable food is certainly very positive. However, in order to meet the stated objectives of the strategy, it is essential that we take an integrated approach to science, policy and practice. The challenge will be to bridge the gaps between farmers, industry, academics in delivering independent and transparent advice which supports knowledge exchange between researchers and farmers, but with commercial interests also served.

Read the full statement here.


 

LEAF receives global recognition from ISEAL

LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) has been accepted as an associate member of the ISEAL Alliance, the global membership association for sustainability standards. Becoming an associate member of ISEAL recognises that LEAF is committed to embracing credible practices, such as transparency and accountability, and improving with like-minded peers in its efforts to deliver sustainable farming on a global scale through the LEAF Marque assurance scheme.

Associate membership is an important step to gaining full membership in ISEAL and indicates that LEAF is on a path to demonstrating full compliance with ISEAL's stringent Codes of Good Practice within a set time frame. ISEAL's Codes of Good Practice are a global reference for developing credible sustainability standards covering the standard-setting and design process, monitoring and evaluation and the implementation of the assurance process. Compliance ensures that standards strive for continuous improvement and use credible and effective systems that are more likely to deliver positive social and environmental impacts.

Download the full press release here or find out more about ISEAL here.


 

Record Numbers Attend Open Farm Sunday 2013

Right across the country farmers have reported record attendance for Open Farm Sunday 2013. Feedback from farms indicates that, in many cases, visitor numbers were up by between 10-20% on last year, leading organisers’ LEAF, (Linking Environment And Farming) to estimate that over 200,000 people visited one of the 365 farms that opened.

With sunshine bathing most of Britain, the increase in visitor numbers was seen in farms from Cornwall to Northumberland and Scotland to Essex. Conversations on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, had already reached new levels before the weekend, and on Open Farm Sunday itself, the channels were literally buzzing with fantastic feedback from visitors about their day on a farm – as well, of course, appreciation for all the work farmers and their helpers had put into their events.

Read the full press release here.


 

Social media bridging the gap between farmers and consumers

 

  • Eight in ten farmers now active on social media
  • Three quarters of farmers claim the internet has brought them and consumers closer together
  • Seven in ten farmers say they have seen an increase in consumers’ interest in farming over the past 12 months
  • Six in ten farmers have increased the time spent on social media over the past year
  • Nearly half of farmers say people are surprised to find them online
  • Most popular platforms are: Facebook (70%); Twitter (45%) and LinkedIn (24%)

As part of their drive to connect with the public, more and more farmers are turning to the internet and with great success. Three quarters of farmers surveyed believe the web has helped them get closer to consumers and many now use Twitter and Facebook to connect with the public, as well as their own websites and blogs.

Read the full press release here.

 


 

New Tried & Tested Guide - 'Feed Planning for Cattle and Sheep'

A feed plan for your cattle or sheep can make your farm run more sustainably. There is potential for cost savings and greater profitability at the same time as improving the environment through reducing nutrient losses to the atmosphere and water. The feed planning approach can help bring things together on the farm, linking the environment with the health of your cattle and the profitability of your farm.

An innovative new Tried & Tested guide, 'Feed Planning for Cattle and Sheep', has been launched to help boost farm profitability, reduce nutrient waste and environmental impact. See the principles in action with LEAF member, Stephen Hobbs, below. Click here for more information and to download the guide.


 

LEAF Launches New Report - 'LEAF Driving Sustainability'

Sustainability is high on the agenda for the food industry, but many companies are not actively monitoring or measuring the sustainability of the ingredients and products they source. These findings come from a new report, Driving Sustainability, from LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming)

Driving SustainabilityThe report, which surveyed nearly 1,000 representatives from across the food industry, showed that while 82 per cent of respondents agree sustainability is very important to their company, one in five (19 per cent) do not monitor the sustainability of food products they source.

The report was launched at the International Food and Drink Event 2013 where we had a panel discussion on the subject of measuring sustainability. The videos are available to view here.

Download the report here


 

LEAF Launches Simply Sustainable Water

LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), in association with ASDA and Molson Coors Brewing Company, has today (22nd January) launched its ‘Simply Sustainable Water’ initiative with a free online resource for farmers.

Following five years of extreme weather patterns, combined with a rapidly expanding world population, it is now recognised that farmers must manage water resources much more sustainably.

In the video above, Jake Freestone, Farm Manager at Overbury Farms, talks us through the 'six simple steps for managing water quality and use on your land' outlined in 'Simply Sustainable Water'.

For more information and to download a copy of Simply Sustainable Water' please click here.


LEAF's President's Event 2012: The Changing Faces of Sustainability

LEAF President's Event 2012

What will sustainable food systems look like in the future? What lessons can we learn from the past?

These are some of the issues we explored at LEAF’s President’s Event on 14th November 2012. We enjoyed a wide range of speakers including keynote speaker, Professor Charles Godfray, who spoke on food security and sustainable intensification. You can read a full report on the day on our blog here.


 

LEAF announces new partnership with Unilever

Unilever has committed to work with sustainable agriculture charity LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) and ADM to increase its use of LEAF Marque certified oilseed rape. The LEAF Marque gives consumers an easy-to-spot symbol that indicates that the oilseed rape within a product has been sourced sustainably, to high environmental standards.

This new partnership will contribute to Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan which requires all of its oilseed rape to be sustainably sourced by 2020. Through the collaboration, LEAF, ADM and Unilever will be finding ways of working together to increase the number of UK farmers achieving LEAF Marque certification for the benefit of the environment and consumers. ADM Direct will issue contracts to UK farmers for 2012 initially and will then seek to increase the amount of LEAF Marque oilseed rape sourced from the farmers over the next three years.

Read the full press release here.


AtlasFram joins LEAF

AtlasFram, one of the UK’s largest farmer owned cooperatives has joined LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming). AtlasFram which has an annual turnover of £168 million is now encouraging its 1250 farmers to become members and gain LEAF Marque certification. The LEAF Marque logo is widely recognised as the leading environmental food label, and a key reason why AtlasFram has elected to join LEAF.

AtlasFram’s farmer members will have access to the services of Suffolk FWAG to help them with this process, including the completion of the LEAF Audit. Suffolk FWAG, (which joined AtlasFram in January and is also a LEAF advisor), will work with farmers to help them implement LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM) principles, on which LEAF Marque is based.

Click here to read the full press release.


LEAF’s Demonstration Farm Network Expands

LEAF’s (Linking Environment And Farming) UK wide network of Demonstration Farms is to increase, with the launch of two new farms this month.

They join over 40 Demonstration Farms which are centres of excellence for sustainable farming and demonstrate the principles of LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management. They are selected against stringent criteria and host visits throughout the year to a wide range of invited groups including farmers, teachers, government officials and the media. Read the full press release here or watch the video below.


Practical Measures for Improving Water Quality - New videos available!

Following our Practical Measures for Improving Water Quality events at Midloe Grange Farm in Cambridgeshire (22nd March) and Stratton Farms in Somerset (28th March), videos filmed at the events are now available.

The videos, supported by Catchment Sensitive Farming, look at ways of improving how your farming practices impact water quality. Including:

  • Background information from Catchment Sensitive Farming on some of the issues of diffuse water pollution from agriculture through surface run-off
  • Interviews with LEAF Demonstration Farmers, David Felce and Jeremy Padfield, on the measures they have put in place on their farms to mitigate surface run-off

The videos are available below and on LEAF's YouTube channel - subscribe to be the first to see LEAF's new videos!

 

 


Florette goes green with LEAF

The UK’s leading salad brand, Florette, will soon be displaying the LEAF Marque logo on over 60 million salad bags, demonstrating to its customers that they have been produced to high standards of environmental care.

From the 9th April 2012, the LEAF Marque logo - the leading environmental food label - will be placed on the front and back of packs of Florette’s biggest selling bagged salads, Crispy and Mixed. This will be followed by a roll out of the LEAF Marque on pack across the whole range by 2013. Read the full press release.


LEAF Marque acknowledged by Government as the Environmental Food Production Standard of choice

The LEAF Marque has been recognised in Defra’s recently released plans for new standards of food procurement across all Government departments and agencies. The LEAF Marque is cited as a solution within the new standards as one of the ways the Government can meet its new sustainability targets.

LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), a membership organisation at the forefront of sustainable agriculture, has championed Integrated Farm Management (IFM) since 1991. IFM looks at the whole farm, enabling farmers from all sectors to achieve high productivity with low environmental impact and is the key principle behind the LEAF Marque. Farmers certified by the LEAF Marque, farm to the highest standards of environmental care. They take measures to save fuel, reduce energy use, manage water efficiently and enhance biodiversity. The fact that the Government has identified the LEAF Marque as the environmental food production standard of choice, enforces LEAF Marque as a clear way for farmers from all sectors to demonstrate their environmental credentials. Read the full press release here.


LEAF’s statement on the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) research funded by Defra

NEA puts a value to our countrysideLEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) welcomes the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) funded by Defra. It shows that farmers who manage 75% of the land in the UK are vital in the delivery of more than just food and that the natural environment contributes to the economic and social prosperity of the countryside. Read our full statement on our blog


Farmers Get a Helping Hand to Improve Their Soil

LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) in partnership with Asda today launched a new guide to help farmers improve the long term sustainability of their soil.

Soils Brochure'Simply Sustainable Soils' is a practical, hands-on guide offering farmers six simple steps to improve the performance, health and long term sustainability of their land. Looking at soil texture, structure, drainage and compaction through to nutrients and biological health, the guide helps farmers to get the best out of their soil and monitor changes in soil health. Read the full press release


Sodexo Flies the LEAF Flag!

LEAF (Linking Farming And Environment) is delighted to announce that Sodexo, a leading provider of on-site service solutions, has joined LEAF as a corporate member, the first of its kind from the food and facilities management sector.

Michelle Hanson, Commercial Director, Sodexo UK and Ireland, said: "Sodexo is excited about becoming a corporate partner of LEAF, which has done a tremendous amount over the past two decades to advocate, demonstrate and audit sustainable agricultural practices. I believe that Sodexo and LEAF share the same values in terms of being committed to sustainability and a spirit of continual progress. Read the full press release


LEAF Adds Value

A new independent report published on 16th November 2010, shows that LEAF membership offers clear, tangible and valuable benefits to farmers.

The study, commissioned by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) was carried out by CCRI (Countryside and Community Research Institute) and examined the wide range of services that members receive and their impacts on farm businesses.  Click here to read the press releasedownload the report and the summary.

The study identified three main areas where farmers benefit from LEAF membership: financial, environmental and social. Dr Janet Dwyer from CCRI who led the research says there are many ways in which farmers profit. “LEAF membership had enabled the farmers whom we interviewed to save money in several ways - such as by improving energy efficiency and reducing their use of chemicals and fertilisers, without compromising output. But the value of LEAF goes much further than the pure financial, with the majority of farmers also highlighting the social benefits and increased confidence that membership brings. Farmers also reported increased awareness of the environment on their farms, which in turn had helped them to improve biodiversity, soil structure and water quality."

 

Stockcroft Pigs joins LEAF to benefit from environmental expertise

Pork producer Stockcroft Pigs has joined sustainable farming organisation LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) as a corporate member. Stockcroft Pigs is looking to implement LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM) sustainable farming principles across its 50 contracted farms based in the South, West of England and Wales.

Download the full press release here >


 

Farming and food industry unites to celebrate agriculture’s biggest day

LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) is delighted to announce that the backing from the farming and food industry for this year’s Open Farm Sunday is stronger than ever, with both new and previous sponsors committing to support the 2014 campaign. Asda, The Co-operative, M&S, Tesco and Waitrose are all confirmed as 2014 sponsors, alongside Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board, BASF, Country Life butter, Defra, Farmers Weekly, Frontier Agriculture, John Deere, LEAF Marque, National Farmers’ Union, Syngenta and Hellmann’s.

Click here to read the full press release >

 


New perspectives on sustainable soil management

Sustainable soil management

LEAF's Simply Sustainable Soils booklet has taken a step further and you can now see Simply Sustainable Soils in action on farms across the UK. There are six preview soil case studies available on the LEAF website and a further 17 will be available to LEAF members soon.

The case studies feature practical on-farm data and guidance behind the assessment in the Simply Sustainable Soils booklet. This data has been compiled into a set of case studies to act as a reservoir of suggestions and ideas for farmers looking at their soil management.

Download the case studies here >

 


Big Farmland Bird Count

Big Farmland Bird Count

1st - 7th February 2014

This year, GWCT is launching the first annual Big Farmland Bird Count, in partnership with LEAF and the FWAG Association, sponsored by BASF. We're urging our members to take part to help determine how our farmland bird species are faring and to highlight the good conservation work being undertaken on farmland across the UK. Click here for more details and to take part.

What is the Big Farmland Bird Count?

The count will take place between the 1st and 7th February 2014, and involves to spending about 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of your farm. Interested? Click the link below and sign yourself up - make the first Big Farmland Bird Count a great success!

Take part in the count


The countdown begins to Open Farm Sunday 8th June 2014
Register early to help Celebrate British Farming and Food

Registrations for next year’s Open Farm Sunday opened on Sunday (1st December) and organisers LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) are encouraging farmers to sign up as early as possible.

To help and support host farmers to open on 8th June 2014, LEAF are organising a series of free Information Events, running from early February to late April across Britain. Packed with advice, top tips, key learnings and new ideas, these events are also a great opportunity to share experiences with experienced hosts.

Farmers planning to host an Open Farm Sunday event can register online at www.farmsunday.org. Registering as early as possible ensures farmers get all their free resources early as well as ongoing help and support from LEAF throughout the run up to the big day.

Sign up here and download the full press release here.


BASIS and LEAF launch new Integrated Farm Management course

BASIS and LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) are launching a new Integrated Farm Management (IFM) course, designed to provide farmers and advisers with the skills and knowledge to take a whole farm approach to more sustainable farming.

Rob Simpson, BASIS Managing Director says: “The changing pace and demands on our food production systems require a more sustainable approach to farm management. Implementing IFM principles enables farmers to operate profitable businesses capable of both producing quality food and managing the environment sensitively.

IFM provides a sound basis for the development of farm assurance schemes, in particular LEAF Marque. The course also plays an important role in developing the knowledge and skill of any adviser, agronomist or consultant, especially in the delivery of the Thematic Pesticide Strategy and Integrated Pest Management.

Read the full press release here.


Elveden Farms Joins Network of LEAF Demonstration Farms

Elveden Farms has become the latest farm to join LEAF’s nationwide network of LEAF Demonstration Farms. It joins over 40 other farms across the country set up to showcase the very best of sustainable farming practices.

Based in East Anglia, on the Norfolk-Suffolk border, Elveden Farms is one of the largest single farm units in lowland Britain, extending to 9,100 hectares, specialising in the production of vegetables, including potatoes, onions, carrots and parsnips. It also grows a variety of cereals including barley and wheat and is the largest producer of rye in the UK. The farm is LEAF Marque certified, which means it is independently audited to ensure it meets stringent sustainable farming standards.

Download the press release here.

 


LEAF’s Chief Executive awarded an Honorary Doctorate

Caroline Drummond, Chief Executive of LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) will receive an honorary doctorate from Harper Adams University in recognition of her work to combine modern farming with conservation and in engaging the public in farming matters.

Caroline has worked for LEAF since it was established in 1991 and was recognised for her contribution to the farming industry as a Pioneer for the Life of the Nation by Her Majesty the Queen. In 2009, she was awarded an MBE for services to the agricultural industry. Caroline also sits on a number of government and independent committees and is actively involved in many industry partnerships.

On receiving her honorary doctorate, Caroline said: “I am hugely privileged and honoured to be recognised in this way. Harper Adams University has a long tradition of inspiring young people to make a difference. Our work at LEAF is about working towards a sustainable agricultural industry where the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the next generation of farmers can be realised. It is important to stress that this degree recognises the high calibre of staff at LEAF, who work hard to support our members and help to make my job possible.”

Caroline will be presented with her honorary doctorate at the Harper Adams Graduation Ceremony at 2.30pm on Friday 20th September. Other awards are being made to Stephen Woodgate, Professor Sir John Beddington and the Duke of Westminster.


 

LEAF Marque celebrates 10 years

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the LEAF Marque, a global assurance system recognising sustainably farmed products. The LEAF Marque was first launched during the Wimbledon Championships in July 2003, giving recognition to farmers producing food to LEAF’s sustainable farming practices.

During LEAF Marque’s first year, over 150 farmers achieved certification representing some 10,000 hectares of fruit and vegetables. Members of the public wanting to buy products carrying the LEAF Marque were able to find them in Waitrose, which were the first supermarket to stock LEAF Marque products.

Key achievements since LEAF Marque launched:

2003: Over 150 farmers signed up for LEAF Marque, representing some 10 000 hectares of fruit and vegetables. LEAF Marque produce became available in Waitrose stores across the UK.

2004: LEAF buyers and suppliers directory launched to put likeminded suppliers and buyers in touch.

2005: Burts Chips became the first brand to use the LEAF Marque on pack.

2007: LEAF Marque became global and Marks and Spencer encouraged all of its suppliers to become LEAF Marque certified.

2011: LEAF Marque was recognised in Defra’s plans for food procurement. Cited as one of the ways the Government can meet its sustainability targets.

2012: Florette set out its commitment to source 100% LEAF Marque salad for its full salad range and Unilever committed to sourcing 100% of its oilseed rape from LEAF Marque growers through ADM.

2013: Waitrose announced it will source all of its UK grown oilseed rape and wheat from LEAF Marque growers.design process, monitoring and evaluation and the implementation of the assurance process. Compliance ensures that standards strive for continuous improvement and use credible and effective systems that are more likely to deliver positive social and environmental impacts.

Download the full press release here.


Owen Paterson calls for GM in the UK – Statement from LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming)

Owen Paterson called for businesses to come to the UK if they want to research and develop GM technology. Speaking at Rothamsted Research yesterday, Mr Paterson said, “We cannot expect to feed tomorrow’s population with yesterday’s agriculture. We have to use every tool at our disposal.”

LEAF Comment

Caroline Drummond, LEAF Chief Executive, said, “GM technology has the potential to benefit the sustainability of farming systems in the UK. However, the potential benefits to farmers and consumers need to be clearly identified and weighed against the possible risks and there are several areas that cannot be neglected.

“One of these is the need for more research into GM technology. We need to be able to establish the development of plants that have greater resistance to pests and diseases, more resilience to adverse environments and develop the nutritional value of crops.

"Added to this, is the importance of beneficial husbandry practices through the adoption of Integrated Farm Management. Rotations, safe use of inputs, cultivation choice, variety choice, good record keeping and management systems such as those advocated by LEAF are essential. GM will never be an alternative to these practices but it has the potential to be one of the tools in the box.”


 

Waitrose to source LEAF Marque certified commodity crop ingredients

LEAF is to work with Waitrose to source LEAF Marque certified commodity crop ingredients, such as wheat and rapeseed oil.

The LEAF Marque is a global environmental assurance system recognising sustainably farmed products. It is based on LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM) principles and all LEAF Marque farms are independently inspected. There are 487 LEAF Marque farmers in the UK and 580 in another 36 countries.

LEAF Marque farmers already supply Waitrose with all of its UK sourced fruit and vegetables and Leckford Estate – the Waitrose Farm – is a LEAF Marque certified farm. Adopting the LEAF Marque standard for its commodity crops means that Waitrose will strengthen its control frameworks for ingredients such as wheat and oilseed rape.

Read the full press release here.


 

Young shoppers’ backing sees support for British farmers rise

  • Nearly eight in ten shoppers (78%) would buy British food when available

  • 18-24 year olds are twice as likely (69%) to buy British than in 2007 (36%)

  • Nearly eight in ten shoppers (78%) believe that British farmers deserve the full support of the British public

  • Almost half (45%) say that they want to hear more about farmers

The number of shoppers seeking out British food is at a record level according to new research from IGD ShopperVista. The findings, released ahead of LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday, show that shoppers are nearly 1½ times more likely to buy British food than they were six years ago, with younger shoppers and families driving this growth.

Read the full press release here.


 

Parents turn to British countryside for family tripsfarm visit

 

  • One in five parents are more likely to visit the countryside than they were five years ago
  • 82% of families from urban areas have visited the countryside in the past 12 months
  • Top three locations for family visits are parks, seaside and countryside
  • Three quarters of parents surveyed agree it’s important for everyone to know more about how their food is grown and produced

The great outdoors is back in favour for families, with one in five parents (22%) saying they are more likely to visit the countryside than they were five years ago. A new survey of Asda shoppers carried out ahead of LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday, also found that more than eight in ten (82%) parents from urban areas have visited the countryside with their families within the last year. Read more here.


 

State of Nature

Today has seen the launch of the State of Nature report with input from 25 conservation organisations. This report gives a health-check on UK wildlife, revealing a decline in populations of 60% of the species studied.

Caroline Drummond, LEAF Chief Executive, commented on the report:

“The bringing together of this work highlights the challenges we face in respecting and improving the environment. At LEAF we are proud of the work done voluntarily on many of our member’s farms across the UK. Farmland has an important role to play in nature conservation. We are as certain today as 22 years ago when LEAF began, that through Integrated Farm Management, farmers can make a significant positive impact on wildlife populations at the same time as producing quality food as demonstrated through the LEAF Marque farm assurance scheme.”

We believe that an Integrated Farm Management approach to farming will aid the turnaround of many of these declines. Martin Harper, RSPB’s Conservation Director, has challenged landowners to manage their land with wildlife in mind. We know there are many farmers meeting this challenge already, but we can all do more for nature and we will continue to work with our farmers in taking forward the balance of producing quality food with care and consideration for the environment.

In a survey we conducted last year amongst LEAF members, over 80% felt their farm business was more environmentally sustainable than five years ago. This survey, alongside farm practices data from the LEAF Audit, came together in our report ‘LEAF – Driving Sustainability’.


21 Years of Linking Environment And Farming

LEAF is pleased to present a new book '21 Years of Linking Environment And Farming: Past reflections, future directions'.

The book charts the organisation's 21 years history and outlines future directions, whilst featuring quotes from some of LEAF's supporters. The book is available to download for free here. Our grateful thanks to Sodexo for kindly supporting the production of this book.


Overbury Farms Launched as the latest LEAF Demonstration Farm

Overbury Farms have been launched as the latest new addition to the LEAF Demonstration Farm Network.

Launched on 11th October 2012, it will play an important role in hosting visits to farmers, community groups, conservation organisations and local schools, to show how they are combining commercial farming with the highest standards of agricultural best practice and environmental care.

Caroline Drummond, LEAF Chief Executive, and Jake Freestone, Farm Manager at Overbury Farms, talk on the launch in the video below


'Sustainable Lamb' Now Available

Ahead of Livestock 2012, we have produced a new newsletter supplement which will be available from our stand at the event (BM - 198).

The supplement includes farmer case studies and a range of articles from industry leaders. The case studies highlight ways in which LEAF’s IFM can benefit lamb farmers, which  include helping to reduce forage and feeding costs and increase production of grass fed lambs, through the management and composition of grazing swards and growing of other fodder crops. You can download Sustainable Lamb below in PDF and ePub formats for ease of viewing on iPhone, iPad and other compatible devices.

Download pdfDownload ePub


LEAF Technical Field Days

Equipping farmers with the practical skills and know how to help them adopt more sustainable farming practices is one of LEAF’s core aims.

Our Technical Field Events aim to do just this - bring farmers closer to the latest science and current thinking in sustainable farming, look at how it can be adopted at farm level and enable farmers to meet with some of the industry’s leading experts.

This year's events were a great success, you can read the thoughts of Stephen Fell, LEAF's Chairman, on our blog here, and see some photographs from one event here.


Let Nature Feed Your Senses Animate It Competition!

Get creative and 'Animate It' by taking part in the Let Nature Feed Your Senses animation competition.

Animate it!

Be inspired by Shaun the Sheep and his farm friends to animate the nature, food and farming sounds we've collected. Golly Starzak, the Creative Director and mastermind behind Shaun the Sheep, is our judge! Closing date Friday 22nd June 2012. See the Let Nature Feed Your Senses website for more details.


LEAF Marque Global Standard consultation

LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) is calling for the wider food and farming industry to have their say in the future development of its LEAF Marque Global Standard.

LEAF, the leading environmental farming charity, is embarking on a two phase consultation of its LEAF Marque Global Standard. LEAF Marque is a global food standard which shows that food has been produced to the highest standards of environmental care. It is a higher level scheme that builds upon the ‘foundation’ assurance schemes such Red Tractor Farm Assurance and GLOBALGAP. Read the full press release


Accolade for LEAF Farmer!

Rob Kynaston has been named the winner of the RSPB Midlands Nature of Farming Award, recognising farmers who are ambassadors for wildlife in the farming community.

Rob KynastonProducing great food with a passion for wildlife and the countryside has always been at the heart of Rob Kynaston’s approach to farming. “I am unashamedly a proud custodian of the countryside” explains Rob “for me, conservation and farming go hand in hand. It’s all about looking at the whole farm and taking an integrated approach, from the way we look after our soil, our rotations, fertiliser use through to managing specific areas of the farm for wildlife.”

Read the full story on LEAF's blog.


Dairy: A Green Future

Newsletter supplement now available!

Dairy: A Green FutureWe’ve been working with many partners in the dairy industry for a number of years and now, with discussions on where the industry will be in 2020. Amidst all the talk on milk prices and adding value we need to look to the future of dairy farming and it’s implications for sustainability. Download the full supplement.

 

Find out what can LEAF do for your business

– visit us on stand BM224 at the Dairy Event

LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) have issued an open invitation to livestock farmers visiting the Dairy Event, to come and find out why LEAF is relevant to their business. On the LEAF stand (no BM224), there will be experts on hand to explain how LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM), can help farmers manage valuable resources such soil and water


Attitudes and Behaviours around Sustainable Food Purchasing

A  Defra report looking at attitudes and behaviours around sustainable food purchasing compares people’s attitudes to sustainability issues, their responses to questions about actively seeking to buy sustainable food and their actual food purchases over a twelve month period. Download the full report.

Findings from the 12-month Defra funded research project into food purchases show that:

  • More than two thirds of people consider buying British produce important and almost three quarters look to buy British fruit and vegetables;
  • More than three quarters of people think animal welfare is important but only two thirds seek out free range eggs and only half try to buy free range chicken;
  • 70 per cent of people say buying sustainable fish is important but only 30 per cent say that they do so;
  • Almost two thirds of people say that buying ethical products is important, and 30 per cent seek out Fairtrade tea and coffee; and
  • The same number of people who think it’s important to buy healthy produce say they do so – 80 per cent of people.

This is why LEAF Marque is an important tool for farmers, the food chain and consumers in delivering more sustainable food.


Today, 4th April 2011, a partnership of agriculture industry organisations, including LEAF, launches its commitment to achieving a voluntary reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Agricultural Industry is required to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year by the Carbon Budget period 2018-2022. LEAF is part of the partnership of organisations committed to working towards achieving this goal in a voluntary way without compromising production.

A reduction in GHG emissions can be effectively achieved through Integrated Farm Management (IFM). The LEAF management tools which help farmers implement IFM - the LEAF Audit, LEAF Marque and the LEAF Green Box - are key resources in the development of increasingly profitable, efficient and sustainable food production which will inherently help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information please see the press release  and the full GHG Action Plan document
 


LEAF Leads The Way

A new study out this week shows that an assurance scheme developed by a LEAF, an agricultural charity, is leading the way in the environmental labelling of food.

The research evaluated a number of schemes and compared how they help to protect the environment. It found that whilst LEAF Marque, run by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), scored the highest marks across a range of criteria, other better known schemes actually scored significantly less in some important areas.  Read the full report, the press release and the research update brief


LEAF Members Come Out on Top at Farmers Weekly Awards

LEAF members won two of the award categories at last night’s prestigious Farmers Weekly Awards.

Husband and wife team, Peter and Hilary Cochran, who run their farm shop business at Knowes in East Lothian, were named as Local Food Farmers of the Year. They were recognised for their passion for farming, their commitment to growing local food and the sense of community attached to their farm shop. More.

Andrew Rees scooped the Young Farmer of the Year Award. 31 year old Andrew successfully runs Gaulby Lodge Farm in Kings Norton, Leicestershire, in partnership with his father. His industry leadership, knowledge and enthusiasm helped him to stand out. More.

“On behalf of the LEAF team, we would like to congratulate Andrew, Peter and Hilary on their achievements” said LEAF Chief Executive, Caroline Drummond. They are excellent ambassadors for LEAF as well as the farming industry. Their commitment to running profitable farming businesses alongside environmental care and community involvement is exemplary.”


LEAF Marque: Helping caterers to realise the opportunities of the London 2012 Food Vision

Sustainability lies at the very heart of the Food Vision for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It calls for catering that delivers a tastier, healthier and greener Games. Companies tendering for catering contracts will need to demonstrate how specific benchmark standards and aspirational targets will be achieved and that they are building sustainability into their businesses. The LEAF Marque is one of the official aspirational standards for product sourcing and affords caterers the opportunity to meet many of the core objectives of the London 2012 Food Vision.  To source LEAF Marque produce see the Supply Chain Directory web page

Click here for the full press release


Find where to buy LEAF Marque Produce

LEAF has a Supply Chain Directory where buyers can access who produces and who is selling LEAF Marque food.  The directory allows the user to search by crop, postcode or name and by business type such as packer processor or retailer.  To obtain access you first need a user account in myLEAF and then apply for access in Service upgrades.  For more information see Supply Chain Directory page