Introducing a Global Network of Sustainable Farms
Network member, INTO (International National Trusts Organisations), is an international network of National Trusts and is currently holding it’s 16th annual conference in Cambridge. Amongst the organisation’s many projects is Sustainable Farms, which brings together National Trust farming properties from across the globe. Anika Molesworth is the Global Coordinator for the project. We catch up with her to find out more about it and some of the farms involved.
World-wide National Trust organisations look after a diverse range of buildings and landscapes, from coastline and castles to forests and estates. This includes a large number of farms; the National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, for example, is the nation’s largest farmer with around 2000 tenancies across a diverse agricultural estate. INTO recognises the important roles that farming plays beyond food and fibre production, including rural development and employment, environmental management, and the sustaining of cultural heritage. This is why the Sustainable Farms project was established. It enables National Trust farms and the wider community to enhance sustainable production whilst supporting the conservation of natural and heritage resources. It also means that farms can exchange knowledge and ideas, and inspire others to adopt sustainable practices.
Hafod y Llan
The National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland; Wales
Hafod y Llan is a living and breathing piece of Welsh rural upland heritage and also a flagship example of what sustainable farming in the twenty-first century can look like. A new 100KW hydroelectric turbine has been installed here to harness the power of nature, and is expected to generate 1,900 MWhr per year, which is more electricity than is needed to light up all of the National Trust places in Wales. The electricity generated is sold into the grid and the money saved ploughed back into the charity’s conservation work. The National Trust has ambitious targets to produce 50% of its own energy using renewables by 2020, and pioneers sustainable practices across a number of the farms in its care.
National Trust for Historic Preservation; United States of America
The Arcadia Centre for Sustainable Food and Agriculture is dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable local food system. This is achieved through three programme mission areas: sustainable agriculture, in both production and training; farm and nutrition education; and food access via two Mobile Markets. These markets make regular weekly stops in low-food access neighbourhoods, making healthy, locally grown food affordable and convenient for low-income families. Connecting local farmers to consumers reduces food miles, which means cutting carbon emissions and supporting local communities. The farm is also proactive in enriching the soil through compost production, the use of green manures, cover cropping, and conservation tillage practices. Not only does this help to sequester carbon, but also improves soil water-retention, reduces erosion, and creates a favorable environment for soil organisms.
Farm of Learning
Taiwan Environmental Information Association; Taiwan
The Farm of Learning is centred on environmental management, community engagement and eco-tourism. Volunteers have helped to build a shelter hut and water-free composting toilet out of 100% natural resources. Natural waste treatment systems reduce water and energy consumption, limit marine pollution, and lower household costs. Being self-sufficient when it comes to water, waste management, and fertiliser are great accomplishments, and the farm hopes to spread these messages through its educational programme. The environmentally responsible camp offers volunteers biodegradable cleaning products, bamboo toothbrushes, and locally and sustainably harvested food. Farming practices, such as raising sheep, are based on organic principles. This eco-friendly management technique has been adopted in order to ensure a healthy natural environment by reducing land and water pollution.
You can visit the INTO farms website for a full directory of farms involved and to share knowledge and ideas. Like the Facebook page www.facebook.com/INTOFarms, and follow the project on Twitter www.twitter.com/INTOFarms to hear all the latest stories from National Trust farms around the globe.