Alastair Trickett, who farms near Leeds following a management consultancy career in London, was awarded a 2020 Nuffield Scholarship, sponsored by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and the National Trust. Here, Alastair explains his chosen topic, ‘The role of brands in scaling Regenerative Agriculture’.
Wholefoods Market selected Regenerative Agriculture as the top food trend for 2020. Patagonia, The North Face and General Mills are amongst the international brands focussing on sourcing from regenerative farming supply chains. This is because, for many, the old sustainability narrative is broken.
Until now we have been focussing on doing the least harm to our planet; on minimising our footprint, but regenerative agriculture offers farmers, brands and consumers a story of hope.
It could be a way to start actively healing our soils, waterways and biodiversity. It could be one of our best opportunities to reverse climate change by drawing down man-made emissions into the soil.
Often farm innovation revolves around what works on farm. It doesn’t focus on what the consumer wants and where demand exists in the market. As an industry farmers need to become better at this.
In my research I will travel in Australia, Europe and North America. I will meet with brands that are using storytelling to engage their consumers in the potential of their supply chain to heal the environment through regenerative agriculture. I will meet with restaurants, fashion brands, food brands and cosmetics brands.
During my studies, I will be talking with Sustainability Directors and equivalent of major companies to understand their perspective of regenerative agriculture and to understand the pressures of driving through change within their organisations. But I will also meet small brands creating direct links between farmers and consumers.