Eco Comment – A Food Revolution Starts with a Seed

01 March 2024

Having returned home from working in Dubai at the latest COP, Hot Poets have been working on a new project: ‘We Feed the UK’, in collaboration with the Gaia Foundation, ‘photographers, and poets and some of the UK’s custodians of soil, sea and seed in order to showcase positive solutions to climate change, the biodiversity crisis and social justice.’ (

Having recommended that people listen to the Food Programme on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday, I thought I had better do the same. What made it particularly interesting was that I had walked past a geography classroom earlier in the week and seen that they were discussing eco systems. Listening to the first poet from West Yorkshire talking from the Strickley Farm in Cumbria made me realise that farmers are reconnecting lost eco systems with their current regenerative farming methods. I was also reminded of the Christians Aware weekend that I had attended last year where the keynote speaker had written a book entitled ‘Working with Nature’. It appears that many farmers are rethinking how they should farm their land and make it much more of a personal venture rather than creating fodder for multinational corporations and just taking from the earth. These farmers are trying to put goodness back into the living earth and reaping the benefits.

Strickley Farm has been home to the Robinson family since 1875 and their herd of dairy shorthorn cows are not the only creatures in evidence on the farm. The poet Testament’s poem is called the ‘Lig’ and describes the creation of hedgerows and the benefits that creating and keeping them in good order brings to the surrounding countryside. The hedgerows encourage a diverse list of plant, animal and reptile life which in turn benefits the soil etc. etc. I found several videos of James Robinson talking about the environmental improvements and how nature restoration works alongside food production. (Search: Strickley Farm Cumbria)

The second poet, Zena Edwards, was in a very different urban situation. Her story was inspired by Black Roots and Grow with Love in London. People of all backgrounds are encouraged to grow food and get their hands dirty no matter how much land/space they have available to them, be it a pot, a window box or an allotment. The magic of seeing a seed grow into something you can smell, taste and eat encourages those who, for whatever reasons, might never have put themselves into this sort of situation. It empowers them but also makes them realise how tasteless so much imported and bought food can be.

The third poet and musician, Dizraeli, went to Gothelney Farm and Field Bakery in Somerset. The city met the country full on. The farmer here had farmed very much in a commercial sense until realising that something had to change. He was unable to justify the constant pressure and taking from the land. He took the farm from being solely arable and using lots of fertilisers to becoming a mixed organic farm with a bakery where everything was grown and eaten for a local consumer. Think of the difference in the carbon footprint!

The Gaia Foundation also runs a Seed Sovereignty Programme. One of the issues within the world food programme I had heard is that our world now relies on such a small number of varieties of grain and plants for the majority of our staple foods. In some countries farmers have to buy their seed from the big corporations and can only grow what they are given. These seeds and plants are also reliant on fertilisers from the same big companies and on our current climate and weather patterns. What happens if these change? How will we feed the world? Food poverty in general was touched on in this programme but also how we in the UK have got used to paying less for our food than we should. We appear to have been led into a world of convenience and commodities by the money people, a bit like fast fashion.

A fascinating programme which is well worth a listen and still available on BBC Sounds.

Susan Morgan
Eco Group

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Wakefield Cathedral’s Eco Group brings together members of the congregation, volunteers and staff to work towards making the cathedral a greener place to work and worship.

The Eco Group achieves its goals through a variety of activities, including partnerships with local community groups.

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