Agroecological Business: Connecting to nature and the land
The Agroecology Network, led by Professor Steffen Boehm from the University of Essex, brings together experts working in agroecology and sustainable rural livelihoods, exploring the potential for sustainable and resilient business practices for small and medium-sized UK producers.
The network will build a strong evidence base for the potential of these business practices in the UK.
See the Agroecology research network website, which provides a platform for networking, research, and engagement related to agroecology in the UK and includes a database of agroecological businesses, projects, and initiatives in the UK. The website also provides a forum for those interested in agroecology to interact.
Agroecology is a growing practice that considers the holistic relationship between all important biophysical, technical and socio-economic components of farming systems, aiming to sustain yields while minimising the negative environmental and socio-economic impacts of modern, large-scale farming techniques.
Civil society actors, together with policymakers and small and medium-sized agri-businesses, have called for more support for small-scale farming, based on agroecological practices, which focus on the holistic management of the agro-ecosystem, minimising external inputs, such as synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, producing better environmental, economic and social outcomes within the context of the challenges of the food-energy-water nexus.
These designs incorporate traditional knowledge and practices of modern agroecological science, promising to deliver food security for local and regional communities, while significantly reducing the usage of water and energy for agr icultural production as well as distribution of food.
Relative to developing country contexts, however, there has been relatively little attention to the potential of such alternatives in highly industrialised countries where top-down, high-throughput agricultural models were first developed.
This collaborative project established a network of UK academics, policymakers, businesses and civil society actors to investigate the potential, at different temporal and spatial scales, for new agroecological business practices that promise to address contemporary challenges of food-water-energy security in the UK.
Image credit: with thanks to Melissa Wall on flickr.