21, 2003: There is an organization in Great Britain
that is committed to a viable agriculture which is environmentally
and socially acceptable. LEAF, acronym for Linking Environment
and Farming, was founded a decade ago with a mandate to address
the growing gap between consumers and farmers.
LEAF's approach to farming is based on Integrated Farm Management
(IFM) and common sense farming. Participating farmers manage
their farms in an informed, professional and caring way. They
combine the best of traditional farming methods with the latest
technology. They use many of the management systems used by
organic farmers but, when necessary, also use pesticides and
fertilizers to keep animals and crops healthy.
LEAF welcomes visits from farmers and consumers to its volunteer
Demonstration Farms throughout the U.K. Each site is a working
example of Integrated Farm Management -- food production in
harmony with wildlife and the countryside. Integrated Farm
Management's principles include:
- Commitment to good husbandry and animal welfare
- Crop rotation
- Minimum reliance on crop protection chemicals and fertilizers
- Efficient soil management
- Maintenance of the landscape and rural communities
- Enhancement of wildlife habitats.
LEAF's approach to consumers is through branding. Products
from LEAF certified farms carry the LEAF Marque, the consumer's
assurance that the farmer involved is committed to Integrated
Farm Management and wildlife-friendly farming. Information
about a farm's actual production practices is easily accessible.
The LEAF Marque on some products comes with a tracking number.
Take that number to the LEAF website and you get pictures
and descriptions of the certified farm that produced your
LEAF's approach to retailers is to invite sponsorship and
provide easy access to LEAF Marque certification information.
The goal is a producer-retailer partnership. The U.K. has
a range of assurance schemes in play. Most are focused on
health and safety issues. The LEAF Marque complements them
with environmental credentials.
There is an opportunity to learn more about this approach
to linking environment and farming. Gordon Gatward, Director
& Agricultural Chaplain of the Arthur Rank Centre in the
U. K., will be the keynote speaker at the Christian Farmers
Federation's 2003 annual convention. Gatward will speak on
"Lessons from the UK: Linking Farmers, Retailers and
The event runs from Thursday, November 27 at 1:00 p.m. to
Friday November 28 at 9:00 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Cambridge,
Ontario. There's always room at the CFFO convention for more
members and friends. Come for one session or the whole event.
There is a registration fee for most sessions, so please pre-register
-- call the CFFO office at 519-837-1620. Or visit our website
and use email. For more information about LEAF visit: www.leafuk.org/leaf.
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