The Ecological Land Co-operative recently produced an overview of research on ecological agriculture in the UK. We’ve used this to create a new online resource, freely accessible via our website.
So what exactly is it?
The site comprises a directory of agroecology-focused UK research institutions and initiatives, along with a library of relevant research papers classified by topic. We hope that the site will be of real use to anyone conducting or intending to conduct research in this field, as well as providing simple access to information to inform evidence-based practice for agroecological land users.
This site is intended to complement other existing work in this area: in particular, the Permaculture Research Digest provides summaries of newly published permaculture-related research; while the Permaculture Association Knowledge Base is a substantial online resource on all things permaculture, suitable for both beginners and those researching technical information.
As it stands, the information we’ve compiled represents a snapshot of UK agroecological research at the time of writing. We intend to keep the resource live and up to date by adding new research papers and initiatives to the site on an ongoing basis; if you would like to suggest content to be added, please get in touch and let us know!
Why we’ve made the site
Small scale, sustainable agriculture in the UK is experiencing a surge of interest. A new generation of farmers are emerging, motivated by a desire to provide food for their local communities whilst managing the land in an ecologically beneficial way. Agroecology has historically been the preserve of farmers in tropical countries, but in recent years has become an umbrella term for farming that combines sustainable resource management with the nurturing of ecological relationships between plants, animals, people and the ecosystem. Many claims are made about its benefits both to society and the environment, including increased biodiversity, less soil erosion, improved water quality, and more fulfilling and skilled livelihoods. Such arguments are cited in the creation of farming opportunities for new entrants, through planning appeals for agricultural workers’ dwellings, in grant applications for funding, and in political campaigning for a more equitable distribution of agricultural subsidies.
Evidence for the impact of agroecological farming systems exists in the research publications of numerous academic departments and NGOs, but this evidence base is currently dispersed and sometimes inaccessible. The aim of this resource is to identify where research is being carried out, what publications exist and where the gaps are. We hope that this will help to ensure that future research efforts are targeted in an economically efficient way to expand the horizons of knowledge about how agroecological ideas can be applied in a UK context.
About the Ecological Land Co-op
The Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) is a social enterprise, established to provide affordable sites for ecological land-based livelihoods. The ELC seeks to address a range of complex and deep-rooted social and environmental challenges in a uniquely simple, pragmatic way: by removing barriers to land access for sustainable uses. Our smallholdings are aimed at new entrants to horticulture and mixed farming, and we protect our sites for affordability and agricultural use in perpetuity.
Our first project is a cluster of three affordable smallholdings for new entrants to organic horticulture at Greenham Reach, Devon. Having successfully developed this first site, we are seeking to fund the development of our next site via withdrawable community shares in 2015.
You can find out more about the ELC, and how to get involved with our upcoming community share offer, by visiting our website: www.ecologicalland.coop
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