Climate-friendly farms in the UK are being recognized with a new award.
Agriculture is a major source greenhouse gas emissions.
A 2020 study by the University of Oxford found that it is impossible for current agricultural systems to limit global warming to 1.5°C – even if all other sources of greenhouse gas emissions were eliminated.
Animals kept as livestock are particularly problematic. According to the UN, industrialists an animal farming accounts for at least 14.5 percent of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions and 32 percent of methane emissions, one of the biggest drivers of global warming.
In the race to achieve net-zero emissions, it may be necessary to switch to plant-based foods.
To help consumers in the UK in their search for climate and animal-friendly foods, rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched its first ever Farming Awards.
Focusing on ethical, animal-free farming, the awards highlight producers for their environmentally friendly practices and products.
“Each winner of this groundbreaking award has demonstrated excellence in their field,” says PETA’s Director of Vegan Corporate Projects Dawn Carr.
From a seaweed farm in Scotland to a beef a farmer who recently moved all his cows to a sanctuary, here are some of the notable winners.
This former beef and dairy farm has gone ‘vegan’
Former beef and dairy farmer Laurence Candy made the bold decision to retire his cow herd and switch to grain production.
At first, Laurence planned to turn his farm around organic. But because of the associated costs and the impact on the environment – together with a decrease in the demand for organic milk and a heavy conscience – he looked for other options.
He made it his mission to develop a ‘vegan’ farm.
“It’s not a niche, it’s a hippie system; veganics ticks all the boxes,” Laurence told Biocyclic Vegan at the time. “The more I look at it, the more I learn; it solves all the problems.”
It is pure biocyclic vegan agriculture plant-based form of organic farming. It excludes all commercial livestock farming and animal slaughter and uses no inputs of animal origin.
Mulching, composting and natural fertilizers are used to promote healthy soiland biodiversity is encouraged to ensure a healthy balance of predators that feed on pests.
Laurence is growing now vegan and organic beans and grains on the 134 hectare Northwood farm in Dorset, England. His cows live peacefully at Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk.
Northwood is the first of them since an animal farm to obtain the accreditation of the Biocircular Vegan Standard in Europe.
“This farming system aims to do as little harm as possible animals and the environment and incorporates vegan principles,” says Laurence.
“It is not possible to say ‘business as usual’. It’s about telling the truth at the end of the day and facing the facts.”.
“We have to reach out net zero as soon as possible and that means a reduction in global livestock numbers; there is no other way to do it within the timescale.”
This company harvests seaweed responsibly in Scotland
Scottish SHORE Business We grow 10 organic species of seaweed, which are harvested responsibly seaweed. They turn this harvest into pestos, crisps and other products packed with protein, fiber, magnesium, calcium, iron and iodine.
“Seaweed it is highly nutritious and grown in harmony with nature without the use of land, fresh water or chemical inputs,” says company managing director Peter Elbourne.
Located in Wick, in the north east of the County Scotland – one of the most remote communities in the UK – SHORE cuts seaweed to allow the plants to re-grow naturally.
The company carefully manages the diversity of local plants in its harvesting sites to ensure its techniques are sustainable.
The UK’s largest organic vegan farm is helping others go plant-based
Tolhurst Organic in Oxfordshire is the largest in the UK vegan and an organic farm. It has been certified organic for over 30 years, making it one of the longest running organic vegetable farms in England.
The IS a farm it has been free of grazing animals and animal input for the past 10 years. This ‘stock-free’ system uses less land than livestock-dependent systems and has lower energy requirements, resulting in a much lower carbon footprint.
Biodiversity and habitat management are at the heart of Tolhurst’s operations. The owners of the revival of soil and supporting wildlife by planting hedges and trees. Increased biodiversity ensured a healthy balance of predators feeding on pests, allowing the a farm to avoid top spraying altogether.
Not only do they provide fresh vegetable box deliveries to the people of Oxfordshire, they also advise others on organic vegetable farming farmers and anyone else who is interested.
“As a farmer, protecting food production systems means adapting to change,” says Iain Tolhurst of Tolhurst Organic.
“I am proud to run the oldest organic organization in the UK vegan farm and encourage other farmers to switch from animal agriculture.”
The whole of the farm Carbon footprint around eight tonnes – the same as a typical UK house. Compared to standard supermarket produce, Tolhurst’s vegetables are 90 per cent more carbon efficient.
You can find out about the other winners of the Farming Awards on the PETA website.