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Brighton and Hove's Downland Estate - potentials to contribute to more sustainable food systems?


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Presentation by Elise Wach, 2018. Used in the Brighton & Hove Transformation Lab of the Pathways Network.

Published in: Food
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Brighton and Hove's Downland Estate - potentials to contribute to more sustainable food systems?

  1. 1. BRIGHTON & HOVE’S DOWNLAND ESTATE Potentials to contribute to more sustainable food systems? Elise Wach
  2. 2. Trajectory of this research initiative
  3. 3. The context
  4. 4. The context, cont. 21,870 people in food poverty in Brighton & Hove2 Demand for local and ecological food exceeds supply Veg and fruit consumption is less than half of what’s recommended1
  5. 5. The context, cont. Agricultural subsidies due to change6 Water, soil and biodiversity require more protection3 1/3 of farms under 50ha closed between 2005 and 20155 26% of ecological footprint in B&H relates to food4
  6. 6. The Downland Estate 10,153 acres (4,109 ha) of farmland Purchased via 1913 and 1931 Brighton Corporation Acts to protect the water supply
  7. 7. The Downland Initiative - Developed in 2005 - 4 themes - Agriculture and Land Use - Access - Wildlife - Landscape and Education - Agriculture and Land Use aim: - “Establish a sustainable agricultural system on the Downs, with a greater emphasis on local, healthy food production, diversification and farming practices that are sympathetic to wider downland objectives”7
  8. 8. Estate management - Overall estate managed by Savills, based on Downland Initiative, in coordination with the BHCC - 29 tenancies, including AHAs and FBTs: 3,384 6,769 BHCC Downland Estate by Tenancy Acres of farmland under FBTs Acres of farmland under AHAs 15 Agricultural Holding Act (AHA) Tenancies AHA tenancies (1948 act) Can be passed on for up to 3 generations 14 Farm Business Tenancies (FBTs) FBT lengths range from 3- 15 years
  9. 9. Typical practices on farmland around B&H Majority is: • Arable • Livestock Some is: • Agroecological • Agroecology ‘on farms’ refers to reducing external inputs (especially synthetics), increasing biodiversity, building soil, producing healthy food
  10. 10. Crops: • Spring Barley • Winter Wheat • Oilseed Rape Practices: • Stewardship schemes  conserving monuments, monitoring birds8 • Lack of cover cropping  loss of fertility + contamination of water supplies • Significant pesticide use  decreased biodiversity and resilience9 • Wildflower margins  food for pollinators, but compromised by pesticides10 • Fertiliser usage  Large amount of nitrates (45% leach into groundwater) 11 Consumption: • Primarily for national or export markets • Some barley used for local brewing (?)12 Arable farming around B&H
  11. 11. Livestock farming around B&H Animals: - Sheep - Suckling cows Practices: - Stewardship  conserving monuments, monitoring birds8 - Conservation grazing  protects chalk grasslands; healthy diet for ruminants - Deworming / Sheep dip Consumption: - Some lamb sold locally (CSA and butchers)12 - Suckling cows sold to other parts of country for fattening13
  12. 12. Agroecological Farming around B&H Products: • Veg and fruit • Meat, Eggs • Dairy Practices: • Intercropping / companion planting • Green manures and soil covers • Integration of crops and livestock • Natural pest management • Integration of trees (windbreaks, food forest, orchards, etc.) Consumption: • Most are extremely local • Some sell to Brighton & Hove 25 agroecological farms identified within a 50km radius of Brighton & Hove14
  13. 13. Agroecological farming in the UK • Yields15 • Comparable to conventional field scale for veg • Higher than average in some crops (beetroot, kale, cabbage, carrots, broad beans, calabrese, French beans and spinach) • Livelihoods15 • 3.2 full time equivalent farm workers per hectare (annual work units, AWUs) • UK farming average is 0.028 AWUs • Access and Education • CSA schemes • School groups • High biodiversity / vibrant ecosystems
  14. 14. Case study: Fork & Dig It • Cultivating 0.2ha (on a 1ha site) in Stanmer • Producing parsnips, celeriac, kales, cabbages, garden cress, chard, rocket, cos, lettuce, coriander, garlic, spinach, oriental gooseberry, carrots, potatoes, rhubarb, aubergine, tomatoes, beetroot, courgette, redcurrants, raspberries, etc.16 • Distributing 108 kg of own veg and fruit per week17 • ‘7 a day’ for 36 people • Average 179 people per ha18
  15. 15. Who wants to farm? • 20% drop in farmers between 2000 and 201019 • 1/3 of existing farmers over 65 • Yet enrolment in agricultural training up 20% in last 10 years20 • Access to land is one of top barriers to new entrants21 • Availability • Affordability • Appropriateness • 125 individuals and families registered interest in small-scale farmland for agroecology in East Sussex22
  16. 16. Other councils… Suffolk County Council County Farm Estate23 Norfolk County Council County Farms Estate24 Brighton & Hove City Council Downland Estate Size of farmland estate 12,947 acres 16,061 acres 10,153 acres No. of farmer tenants 94 tenants 145 tenants 29 tenants Uses of farmland estate  Farm-related businesses  Community woodlands  Allotments  Footpaths  Farm-related businesses  Community woodlands  Allotments  Footpaths  Farm-related businesses  Community woodlands  Allotments  Footpaths  Supports new entrants  Affordable housing for farmers  Supports new entrants  Affordable housing for farmers X Supports existing farmers X No housing aims Average return on investment for council farmland estates in England is 0.83%; Some councils generate up to £2.5M surplus per year25
  17. 17. Possibilities for the Downland Estate to contribute to more sustainable food systems • Dedicate a portion of the estate to agroecological production • 122ha (3%) managed like F&DI  7 a day for people in food poverty25 • Even 1% could make a difference • Next new tenancy? • Portion of existing tenancy? • Incentives to existing famers? • Learn from other councils • Collaborate with land trusts • E.g. Ecological Land Cooperative26
  18. 18. Time to discuss!