A collaborative piece written by Abby Rose - Farmerama, Robert Reed - A Team Foundation, and twelve inspiring women.

The A Team Foundation are celebrating International Women’s Day in collaboration with Farmerama Radio who share the voices of the regenerative agriculture movement. Today, Friday the 8th March, is a day to celebrate all the women in our lives; those that are close to us and also, those who are working to shift paradigms not only in food and farming but in the wider world.

Abby: Farmerama is truly grassroots radio. We have always been focused on sharing the voices of the people on the front line of food and farming, those getting stuck into the nitty gritty of what it really means to be a food producer and how that relates to the wider world. We also have a strong focus on featuring under-represented voices as we will only build a regenerative food and farming system if we work with diversity being a fundamental ideal.

As co-host of Farmerama, I was at a women farmers conference in California, and one grazier told us about her experiences with holistic grazing cows across vast areas in order to rebuild ecosystems and regenerate soils. As a female rancher, she was in the minority amongst graziers and she shared how her way of handling animals was different to those of her male counterparts and teachers. When she decided to embrace her approach as equally valid, it started a journey of exploration. What does a ‘feminine land ethic’ look like? Ever since hearing that, I too have been asking that same question. And what about a feminine food system?  

Part of this exploration is enacted through Farmerama, sharing the voices and experiences of the amazing women out there defining this daily – the women on the front lines nurturing, campaigning, activating and not just believing in a better future but enacting it. So on International Women’s Day 2019 we are here to celebrate the brilliant work of all the women out there, and in particular to share a glimpse into the lives of these 12 awesome women all lighting the way and being a powerful force for change.

(You can also tune into Farmerama Radio to hear many more stories like this - find us at farmerama.co or on any podcasting platform).

Rob: Everywhere I turn within our Movement, there are always powerful and inspiring women leading the foray to transform our broken food system. I am honoured to work with many visionaries who are striving to give our society and the Earth, the peace, safety and sustainability that it so urgently needs.  

You have to be a certain type of person to work within the food sector and you have to be prepared to work hard. Nourishing a seed (be it literal or metaphorical) requires giving it the protection and care it requires to grow. And meanwhile, all of which, is done knowing that the efforts may not guarantee a harvest, but regardless and with love, the risk is worth it anyway. For me, this is a fundamental and inspiring trait of womanliness.

The inspiring ladies below epitomise this sentiment. Each work in their own field across the food and farming spectrum and each endeavour to nourish others in one form or another.   


Alexandra Cruz Welch
Founder, Harvester City

📷: @harvester_city

I believe in a world where we create the story behind our food. I am on a mission to transform the way we produce and consume, by sharing the stories of unconventional thinkers and doers transforming food and agriculture around the globe.

Harvester City is a publication for passionate foodies, plant pioneers and sustainability champions. A place for individuals and businesses to connect & collaborate through the sharing of ideas, experiences, knowledge, and resources from different functions within the supply chain.

What are you committed to in the world?

I am committed to enabling others to achieve greatness. I believe we live in a world filled with way too much negativity and stress. It is easy for people to feel hopeless. I think that the key to a fulfilling life starts with your health. So many of us are prisoners to our body due to illness and disease. I want to educate people about food from all sides of the story. There are a vast amount of people dedicating their time to creating initiatives that promote sustainability, innovation, education, and health within the food space. I see these fantastic individuals as harvesters of knowledge and innovation. This is why I have created Harvester City, a place both offline and online for people to connect & collaborate through the sharing of ideas, experience, knowledge, and resources.

What do you do day-to-day to this end?

The majority of my time is split between traveling, reading, writing and talking to amazing people. Most of my work for Harvester involves me researching and gathering knowledge on the food and healthcare scene around the world. The best way I have found to do this is by actually going to these places to meet these people and hear about their innovations in person. That means most months I am traveling between 3-4 different cities.

Who or what inspires you?

I take all my inspiration from the food & agriculture community. I feel so privileged to be able to connect with some many amazing people. The majority of people working in food genuinely care about what they do and how they do it. Caring and being value driven is something scarce nowadays in the world of business. Every new story I hear inspires me to do what I do. I never for a minute question the importance of showcasing these individuals; without them, we would have no food on our plate and no future to look forward to when it comes to the health and wellbeing of our planet.


Anastasia Emmanuel
Chief Growth Officer, Foodchain

🖥: https://www.joinfoodchain.com/
📷: @foodchain__

I have been in the startup world for a good decade and am obsessed with how technology and community can drive change and solve real world problems.  The problem I am consumed by now is the industrialised food system and how broken it is for people's health, the global economy and our environment. Together with a bunch of incredible people, we are trying to build a better system: one that is open, collaborative, transparent, and where everyone benefits from its growth. A food system that is economically and environmentally sustainable. For everyone.

What are you celebrating right now?

I am celebrating the achievements of women around the world, women far away and women right in front of me; my peers, women in my industry and in my team. I surround myself with smart, powerful, insightful women who know better than me, who can teach me and help me grow. I think it's really important to have mentors, women who are just in front of you and also miles in front of you. Who can help you navigate the short term challenges as well as inspire you to chase your big vision.

Today I am celebrating my peers who breastfeed in the boardroom and, normalise what it looks like to be a mother whilst building a business, the non-glamorous, bare naked truth of trying to balance family and a career. Companies have a choice if they want to retain great talent and build great companies and it may not be the easiest choice short term but it will serve companies better in the future.

I am celebrating not only women on International Women’s Day, but the men who support women, who fight for gender equality and women's rights. This can't be achieved with 50% of the population. We need men and women to work together effect real change globally and you can start in our own immediate sphere.

What are you feeling uneasy about?

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have done a huge amount for raising awareness and stopping men in their tracks when it comes to sexual harassment, abuse and inappropriate behaviour in and out of the workplace. One thing I feel uneasy about is whether this is just a moment in history, or whether the learnings we have painfully gleaned over the past couple of years, exposing this type of systemic behaviour is going to genuinely change for the better long-term or once the focus eases, whether the impact won't be long-lasting. One of the reasons for my concern is that the power dynamic is not changing quick enough. The leaders, the decisions makers, the people deciding what gets funded and what doesn't are still overwhelmingly white men. Diversity as well as gender inequality is just as large an issue.

What's amusing is that there is myriad research to prove that having women on your board, in your team and across the company increases your profitability. The bottom line is that women make your company better, not that there needs to be a reason to enforce gender equality in companies, but it's fiscally irresponsible of you not to. And shocker...having a team that represents the world and society enables you to make better products, better decisions and serve your customers best. I want an equal number of women in our company not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it makes business sense.

What gives you solace?

It gives me solace speaking to the great women in the food and tech industry. The restaurant owners like Laura Harper Hinton who are actively trying to effect change in the boardroom and at the exec level. The amazing head chefs that we work with;  Chantelle Nicholson, Sally Abe, Rose Ashby, Jane Alty to name just a few! Women who are trying to showcase other women and lift them up like Ravneet Gill who created Countertalk to give women chefs a platform, Ladies Of Restaurants who are promoting women in all areas of hospitality and of course my team.

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Anna Van Der Hurd
Director, A Team Foundation

🖥: https://www.ateamfoundation.org/
📷: @ateamfoundation

I am a Soul currently living a human experience. I am a mother. I love and live on this planet Earth we all call our home. I care deeply and perhaps obsessively about food, it’s production and consumption, how it nourishes or not. I am in awe of Life.

What are you celebrating right now?

A hot shower, the spring blooms, a meal shared with family and friends, laughter. The incredible diversity being grown and the radical farmers near me. I’ve recently moved to Durham, North Carolina and I am blown away each Saturday by what I see and taste at my local market and the deep sense of community the market brings to the town.

What are you feeling uneasy about?

The next generation of genetic modification. Call them what you will - Gene drives, CRISPR - these new technologies are no safer than their predecessors and likely far less so. The first generation of genetic modification has been a tremendous failure, causing massive increases in the use of toxic herbicides. We continue to risk altering genes other than the ones originally targeted with untold consequences and then setting these altered species loose into the environment. Once out of the lab and into the fields, water, and air, it is an unstoppable experiment, which frankly I wish would be put to bed. 

What are you committed to in the world?

I am committed to living a life of gratitude, harmlessness and love for all Life.

What do you do day-to-day to this end?  

Well hopefully some things as a commitment without action is a bit sad. It hurts me to harm. I am reminded of this if ever I lose my patience with anyone, especially a little person. I feel the ripples of every decision I make when it comes to consumption. What am I supporting behind the product when buying, eating, reading, watching? Does it bring love or harm? These are the questions I ask myself. I don’t always get it right and sometimes I want the convenience, or the superfluous, but when astray I am brought back to centre by a deeply felt interconnectivity to all and a wish for us to live with equality and harmony on this planet.  

Who or what inspires you?

There is so much in this world to be inspired by. Life itself and the myriad forms that it takes. A smile from a passing stranger. The agroecological, organic, biodynamic farmers that feed us and nourish the earth with their regenerative practice. The bravery of many in all disciplines that dedicate their life in service for a better future for all.

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Calixta Killander
Farmer, Flourish Produce

🖥: https://www.flourishproduce.co.uk/
📷: @flourishproduce

After spending some time studying and farming in the USA I moved back to the UK to start Flourish Produce, a small farm in South Cambridgeshire. We grow a large array of specialty produce, with a focus on unusual varieties. We work with heavy horses rather than tractors and are committed to this way of farming due to its reduced impact on the soil, our most precious growing medium. The horses are integrated into our fertility cycle and along with other practices, we strive to produce all of our own fertility on the farm whilst growing delicious nutrient dense produce for our customers.

What are you celebrating right now?

Spring is here and it’s always such a thrilling time on the farm. The winter lull is over and we are rushing to prepare the land and plant our crops. We are seeding a huge array of plants in the greenhouse, each year I am always amazed to watch such beautiful plants grow from something as tiny as a seed.

What are you feeling uneasy about?

As a grower so dependent on many variables, I always worry about what challenges we will face in terms of pests, disease and weather in the year ahead. I hope that we are creating a resilient farm system through our land management practices but of course there are always struggles and we make mistakes. As a grower with tight margins, crop loss can be really devastating.

What gives you solace?

The understanding that we are doing our very best here at Flourish and that each challenge is an opportunity to learn from one’s mistakes. I look to the mentors I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and work for, who have been growing and farming for decades, and cherish the fact that their thriving businesses are a testament to doing things the right way rather than cutting corners.

What are you committed to in the world?

I am committed to growing the best  food that I possibly can whilst enhancing the ecology both above and below ground on the farm. I want to build a good business that can provide a decent livelihood to those who are involved in it and one that can illustrate the benefits of regenerative/sustainable farming techniques and the use of working horses in a commercially viable farm.


Fidelity Weston
Farmer, Romshed Farm & Vice-Chair, Pasture for Life

🖥: http://www.romshedfarm.co.uk/
🖥: https://www.pastureforlife.org/
📷: @pastureforlife

I farm near Sevenoaks in Kent, UK.  We rear beef and lamb on our wildflower rich pastures. Moving them regularly to rest the fields, allows the wildflowers to set seed and give the stock fresh grass on a regular basis.  We sell our meat directly to the public who come to the farm to pick up their orders. We have open days and I love talking to our customers about food and meat, exchanging recipes and building each others knowledge on farming and cooking.  I am also Vice Chairman of the Pasture Fed Livestock Association, a membership organisation of around 400 farmers who are all trying new ways of farming to ensure wildlife is respected, soils are rejuvenated and the animals are healthy and happy.  They are an inspirational group of people and through each other we have learned an enormous amount.

What are you feeling uneasy about?  

A change in the weather as we approach lambing, but we will manage.  Last year was horrendous with snow, sleet and no grass, so whatever we get this year, it will be better.  On the bigger picture, I feel uneasy about the future of the environment for our children. They have not seen the loss that I have seen in my generation and so each generation has lower and lower expectations; we somehow need to turn the tide.

What gives you solace?  

I love walking out in the morning, hearing the birds and feeling the fields move from cold to cool to warm.  Ending the day in the same way on a beautiful day gives just as much solace.

What are you committed to in the world?  

Regenerative agriculture could do so much to bring back natural life on the earth.  It seems to me, it would provide the answer and if we can get that going on a large-scale that would be wonderful.  I am committed to achieving this in the UK.

What do you do day-to-day to this end?

I farm regeneratively but spend far more time working away for the PFLA as a volunteer Director.  That is how I feel I am influencing Government policy and helping to engender change. I spend too much time in front of my computer but feel it is all worthwhile when I am working alongside others trying to achieve the same ends.


Janie Bickersteth
Chair, Incredible Edible Lambeth

🖥: https://www.incredibleediblelambeth.org/
📷: @incredibleediblelambeth

From a young age, I have realised the importance of growing food, having helped my dad in the veg patch in my first decade of life. He taught me to appreciate how hard it is to grow food but how much tastier it is once  you've grown something yourself, harvested and eaten it on the same day. Today, I am Chair of Incredible Edible Lambeth - I first came across Incredible Edible in 2012 and set one up in a large school in Singapore - from there, one of my students has set up an Incredible Edible in Goa and has planted thousands of moringa trees! I am very proud of her achievements.

What are you celebrating right now?
I'm celebrating the growing global awareness that both our planet and our people need nurturing; the dawning realisation that our soils need protecting and that eating processed food is never going to be good for you. In short - I feel that there is a groundswell of people taking control of their own situations and not having the expectation that someone else will 'fix it'

What are you feeling uneasy about?
I'm concerned that our Governments are not recognising how urgently we need to change direction - that unfettered 'Growth'  is the primary driver, despite the knowledge that our globe cannot sustain it.

What do you do day-to-day?
I work to raise awareness of the difficult issues of our time - both in my work with Incredible Edible Lambeth, in the street I live in (I'm a street champion) and my work in my church on all areas of sustainability and faith. With IEL I work to encourage food growing (in community gardens, on balconies, in public spaces, in schools), food businesses, food knowledge (in education) and food campaigning (presently we have a pesticide-free Lambeth campaign). In church, we have achieved the A Rocha EcoChurch Gold status - the only urban city in the UK. Right now, I am spending time prepping for Earth Hour (30th March) when I am working with my church (St James' Piccadilly) and WWF to get all the lights turned off around Piccadilly Circus - we will be standing vigil for an hour that night to remind the world that we are running out of time to bring down our CO2 levels and to save so much of our world from extinction. I also campaign with Extinction Rebellion, with Greenpeace and have been engaged with Friends of the Earth in the past. Financially, I support children in Vietnam, people being reskilled to get back into work (in the Northeast of UK), Christian Aid, Oxfam, MSF...


Jenny Costa
Founder, Rubies in the Rubble

🖥: https://rubiesintherubble.com/  
📷: @rubiesintherubble

I am the founder of Rubies in the Rubble, a sustainable condiments company. Having been brought up on an organic farm before working in the city, I am passionate about making positive change through business.

What are you celebrating right now?

Our new ketchup!! We just won a Gold Award for it and are super proud. It tastes banging but is BETTER for you and the planet - being 100% natural and surplus pears replacing half the added sugar.

What are you feeling uneasy about?

I have a mixture of terror and excitement for some of our targets and growth that we have this year and next. It is so exciting to see the interest and demand and now just down to us to make sure we deliver! We are running a crowdfunding campaign in April and are excited to include people in our journey.

What gives you solace?

Our Rubies Team! We have such an amazing team which feels more like a family than a company. Everyone is incredibly supportive of each other and focused on creating more impact.

What are you committed to in the world?

I am committed to creating a more sustainable food supply chain. Food has a huge carbon footprint and we need to value it better. We have the food to feed our growing demand and population, we just need to better manage it.

What do you do day-to-day to this end?

Run Rubies in the Rubble! We make delicious condiments from fruit and veg that would otherwise be discarded as a way of raising awareness about the need to value our food supply chain.

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Jyoti Fernandes
Farmer, Campaigner & Activist, Landworkers’ Alliance

🖥: https://landworkersalliance.org.uk/
📷: @landworkersalliance

I am a farmer in Dorset. I am running a mixed agroecological farm with my husband and four daughters. We have vegetables and orchards with Jacob sheep under the apples, pears and plums and chickens to eat the scraps which lay rich yellow yolked eggs. My favourite are my four cows. My father was from India and I think I have a real love for cows that runs through my blood. I sell raw milk and cheese, jams, apple juice, cider and herbal remedies.

I started farming because I wanted to raise my children in a job where they could help, have plenty of fresh air and good food while they were to learn about nature. Now two of them have left home. One is a scientist studying how to reduce climate change with better farming systems and another is a doctor studying how good food improves our well-being. I feel strongly that all the time they helped me plant seeds, feed baby lambs and pull up GM crops was worthwhile because I see them contributing back to our world and it makes me proud. I think my proudest personal achievement is having washed four kids worth of nappies by hand!

I also campaign for a better fairer food system that can feed the world without destroying it. I have always been a campaigner alongside farming, working to help smallholders get access to land and working with the Landworkers' Alliance a union for small farms which is a part of La Via Campesina an international movement of peasant farmers. The majority of farmers in the world are women of colour, providing nearly 70% of the worlds food. We campaign to support their livelihoods and make sure that everyone has access to health affordable food that is produced in a way that regenerates our earth.  

What are you celebrating right now?

Our movement -of people working for a sustainable and just world- is growing stronger and gaining a voice. La Via Campesina, our peasant farmers movement, represents over 200 million small scale farmers. All the people I work with are powerful, strong, dedicated people who are creating and alternative to the destructive path we are on. For a long time our political voice has been marginalised, but I witness daily how we have influenced how the people in power view agriculture. Last year we persuaded the UN to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants, which is groundbreaking.

Recently, the campaign that I have been working on to shift agriculture in this country towards Agroecology has gained a lot of momentum and I get to meet with loads of politicians and civil servants who are interested in change. It is exciting and gives me a sense of purpose in my daily work as a farmer. Lots of people are realising that intensive, corporate agriculture hasn’t solved hunger. So now we have an opportunity to present a very real way forward.

What do you do day-to-day?


I milk my cows on the days that I am not heading to Westminster to talk to politicians (on those days my neighbour comes to milk for me). I cook food for my family from what we have grown and try to get them to put down their phones so we can eat together and chat about the state of the world. Next week they are going to strike for the climate so I have been preparing a leaflet for them to pass out about how agroecology can combat climate change and why people should try not to eat food, especially meat, from industrial farms. I juggle planting and cheese making with writing policy briefings and meetings with men in suits. Last year I got to talk to our secretary of State, Michael Gove, about farming and I noticed a big clump of mud on my shoe so I stuck it under the table. He didn’t seem to notice….

Who or what inspires you?

My mom. She was an activist working for the rights of disabled people and juggled raising 5 children with her campaigning work. I saw her over her lifetime build up a movement from scratch to over 20,000 blind people who fought for equal opportunities. I remember running around at the back of endless meetings while she was organising. I somehow absorbed all of my campaigning skills from her. And my optimism. Raising your voice while raising your kids works.  


Kimberley Bell
Baker & Founder, Small Food Bakery

🖥: http://www.smallfoodbakery.com/  

What are you celebrating right now?

Pancake day of course! More specifically, I’m delighted by the wheat, eggs, milk and lemons that I currently have in front of me, because they all represent much bigger narratives – special people and places that nourish me and I’m so grateful to be connected to.

What are you committed to in the world?

Advocating for change in the way we grow, produce, trade, cook, eat, think about food.  

What do you do day-to-day to this end?

Feed people in the best way I can.

Who or what inspires you?

Something/ someone different everyday. Today I’ve been reading and learning about a book called ‘Letters to Nature’ by artist John Newling. I’m inspired by how concisely the book expresses some huge ideas, and how crafting something with such intent – a letter, a book, an artwork can help organise overwhelming thoughts/ be an expression of truth. I like to imagine a loaf of bread could be as beautiful/ truthful.


Lynne Davis
CEO, Open Food Network UK

🖥: https://openfoodnetwork.org.uk/
📷: @openfoodnetworkUK

I’ve spent the last decade working on transformative projects in food and agriculture.

What are you celebrating right now?

I’m trying really hard to celebrate what feels like a new wave of environmental activism. Extinction Rebellion and the School Strikes are giving a new generation a feeling of the power of collective action. The Blue Planet effect (on single-use plastics), increasing popularity of Slow Fashion and veganism are engaging people in behaviour change. There is definitely a rising tide of willingness to take action.

What are you feeling uneasy about?

I fear that we don’t really have a point of reference for a sustainable future. The global economy is a living, complex beast - out of control and the beast-tamers all declared ‘laissez faire’ long ago. For those that can envisage a sustainable future, their vision is not shared and is often fiercely debated. Divisive debate is more entertaining than constructive discourse and being right is more celebrated than being accommodating and inclusive. For the rest of our lives it is unlikely that the big, societal, collective decisions we need to make will be easy or obvious - driven by climate meltdown, economic degrowth, mass migration and social upheaval. It will not be easy for our current governing structures to navigate these decisions. I fear that representative democracy is ill-equipped and I fear that while disagreement is rewarded populism will trump alternate, more deliberative forms of democracy.

What gives you solace?

I find solace in stories of ‘cosmo-visions’ that are entirely different to mine. I love that people of different cultures, contexts and landscapes hold vastly different views on what the universe is, what humans are, how we should interact with each other and our lands. These spiritual perspectives are all equally valid and all offer different gifts of perspective. It reminds me that my own ideas are just one way of looking at things - that there is a limit to objective truth and that I shouldn’t be too invested in my own version of reality. I find a huge amount of solace in this as it reminds me that I’m probably wrong about so many things and thus my own ideas aren’t that important. It reminds me to stay present and open.

What do you do day-to-day?

Day to day I try to build alternative models of food production and distribution that invite people to connect more deeply with food. Central to these alternative models is diversity - in produce, in communities and in business models. Day to day I work with food producers and food enterprises across the country driven by social and ecological values. I’m interested in how these enterprises can play a role in building resilient, healthy communities fed by sustainable producers in an economically viable way. It’s a difficult problem but there are hundreds of super motivated people around the country working in their local areas trying to do just this. I’m interested in how we can co-learn and collaborate to achieve our shared goal.


Rowan Phillimore
Deputy Director, The Gaia Foundation

🖥:  https://www.gaiafoundation.org/
📷: @thegaiafoundation

I work with The Gaia Foundation, a small NGO with over thirty year’s experience supporting communities around the world to regain control of their traditional food systems. That means reviving indigenous seed varieties, rebuilding the diversity in our fields and on our plates, and adopting agro-ecological farming practices which work with the land rather than against her.

Much of our work has been with an inspiring network of grassroots partners across Africa, but in 2017 we started a programme right here in the UK and Ireland to support small-scale seed producers and increase the amount of organic seed being grown on home soil.

What gives you solace?

Local food! There’s a thriving local food sector in the UK and there seems to be a growing consciousness to want to support that. In my hometown (Frome, Somerset) there is a weekly Food Hub that brings together all the local farmers and from which you can order online in advance, so producers only supply to the exact demand, no waste. Frome is trying to do things a little bit differently, with its independent, community-focused town council and its thriving small businesses. I’m constantly inspired by the creativity here and being surrounded by that helps me stay optimistic as we navigate uncertain times globally.

What do you do day-to-day?

Much of Gaia’s work is about re-valorising roles that have been devalued and undermined by the western model of development, which favours cash crops and young male farmers. For example, Africa’s rural women, who have saved, selected and stored seed for millenia, are the true custodians of the continents genetic wealth and yet their voice has been barely recorded in the history books or given credibility even today. Alongside colleagues based in various African settings we set about capturing their stories and brought them together for the first time in “Celebrating African Rural Women – Custodians of Seed, Food and Life’.

Similarly, it is the elders of rural communities whose knowledge and eco-literacy holds the key to so many of the challenges we now face. Capturing their stories, buried deep in the communities of Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda or Zimbabwe, is a critical contribution to raising awareness of the great wealth of genetic diversity on the brink of being lost across Africa and beyond.  We’ve captured many of their voices in our Seeds of Freedom film trilogy, and are currently working on two new films to be released later this year.   

Who or what inspires you?

Last October The Gaia Foundation held a huge photography exhibition on the Southbank in London. Over five floors we displayed over 300 images celebrating 50 small-holder farming communities who were producing food in an environmentally sane way, against the odds. We Feed the World was an absolute inspiration to all who visited, and I for one was bowled over by some of the farmers featured as we researched and curated their stories. Two favourites for me were the community of Cajamarca in Colombia, who turned their back on a mega gold and instead began cultivating the indigenous arracacha, a nutrient-rich root vegetable once dismissed as peasant food. The other is Dr Debal Deb, a lone farmer and scientist who is single handedly preserving over 1000 varieties of rice in India, and protecting the genetic diversity of one of the world’s most important crops.

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Steph Wetherell
Writer, The Locavore & Co-ordinator, Bristol Food Producers

🖥: http://www.thelocavore.co.uk/
🖥: https://bristolfoodproducers.uk/
📷: @steph_wetherell

After spending a few years farming in Canada, living on an organic farm where we grew or raised much of our food, I returned to the UK and to city life. I knew I didn't want to farm myself, but I wanted to know where my food came from, so I set out to meet and tell the stories of the people whose food I was eating, and the more I learned about our food system, the more interested I became. Around the same time I began working for a local organisation, Bristol Food Producers, that supports small scale and agroecological producers in and around the city, and realised this was my passion - helping farmers to build and sustain livelihoods.

What are you celebrating right now?

I'm really inspired to see networks such as the Landworkers' Alliance growing so quickly. I think working on the land can be such an isolating job for many people, and these networks are vitally important both in being able to provide a louder voice to influence things like policy, but also in being able to create supportive connections between producers and farmers.

What are you feeling uneasy about?

The challenges facing new entrant farmers - with seemingly ever-rising land prices, high capital costs and a lack of appropriate training available, it's so difficult for people to start a career in farming, or to set up their own farm. But with the average age of farmers in this country over 60, we need a new generation of people to be able to get their hands in the soil and start producing food.

What do you do day-to-day?

Through my work with Bristol Food Producers, I support people to access land, find the relevant training they need, help them find the right routes to market, and make connections both between producers and up the food chain.

I also write for a variety of magazines and websites, and my writing is all about trying to create a connection between the consumer and the producer - supermarkets have disconnected us from where our food comes from and the variety and rhythm that comes from seasonal eating. I passionately believe that if you can make these connections, help people to understand how their food is produced and why it costs a certain amount, this is a key part of changing our food system for a better and more sustainable one.

Who or what inspires you?

The farmers who get up every day, rain or shine, and work incredibly hard to produce the food we eat - and all for little financial return and not enough gratitude. They are my heroes. And I'm especially inspired by the number of new entrant farmers who are women - around half of the people I work with are female, and it's amazing to see what was traditionally a male dominated field becoming a place where women can really make their mark.