I recently spent an enjoyable hour talking to Ffinlo Costain, who runs the Farm Gate Podcast.
Farm Gate is focussed on agroecology and regenerative agriculture, and presents practical solutions for ecological and food security. The topics covered are relevant to everyone but particularly intended for farmers, food chain professionals, and policy-makers.
Together with Jessica Allen-Back from Home Farm Glamping in Elstree we had a deep dive into the value of diversification into camping & glamping as an opportunity for farmers, particularly those focussed on delivering for regenerative agriculture.
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
To me, at it's most simple it's about farming for the benefit of nature and humans - putting more back, than we get out as a way of actively trying to right the wrongs that humans and previous agricultural practices have caused. This means it's a tool to fight climate change as by caring for our soils particularly we can trap and store carbon, create and maintain life, and ultimately create nutrient dense food. Want to learn more, head over to the Sustainable Food Trust
Why is diversifying important?
Farming and feeding the nation after World War II was a fight, and as a nation we embarked (very successfully) on increasing agricultural productivity to feed the many hungry mouths. Hedgerows were ripped out, fields got bigger, and technology advanced. More efficient machinery and the other "tools" like chemical fertilisers enabled us to deliver food with increasing efficiency but at huge cost to the environment.
Today with the state of nature in freefall, we're in a race to help restore soils, eradicate chemical use and help the natural food chain to regenerate. Today we can't continue to farm like we did in the (even recent) past. Farmers also cannot rely on generating a secure income from farming in world where basic grants are disappearing and supermarkets and world events shape pricing. And that's where diversification comes in.
Most viable farms today need to be 1000's of acres to subsist on agriculture alone, so a small farm like Woodfrys needs to seek other sources of income. Not only that it's a great way for people to come and enjoy farm-life, and get closer to how food is produced.
The world of glamping may seem remote from the every day toil of working with crops and livestock, but for six months of the year it can provide a hugely important source of income that can be used to underpin other aspects of farming life.