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Grow Organic Food
- Monsanto want to patent common vegetables
You have heard all the hype about Monsanto wanting to ‘feed the world’ well here is the reality, they want to own the world by taking out patents on common vegetables. That means that every time you grew one of their patented veg you would pay them for the privilege. Too outlandish to be true? [...]
- Hot bed update
It has been an incredible winter – again. The very cold weather in March has really delayed plantings but the hot beds have produced a crop. The winter mixed salad sown on 8 Jany 2013 has been giving us very welcome fresh salad since the end of March. www.organicgarden.org.uk/first-hot-bed-crops/ for full details and photographs.[...]
- Scientists link weather to Arctic sea ice loss
An article in The Guardian has linked the loss of sea ice in the Arctic to changes in weather patterns. Many climate scientists have been saying that the effect of ice melt is much more severe than first thought but the comments have been played down by governments who are preoccupied with the economy. Why [...]
Life and style: Organic gardening | guardian.co.uk
- Nine gardening myths debunked
Burying a cow's horn filled with manure is one thing, but even some of the better known horticultural tips don't stand up to scientific scrutiny
Is there a hobby anywhere that's more burdened with folklore and superstition than gardening? On any allotment you'll soon find someone convinced that potatoes must be planted on Good Friday, that garlic keeps aphids away, or that human hair wards off eelworm.
The extreme version of this is biodynamics, the "holistic" approach to plants favoured by Prince Charles, which combines organic gardening with new-age magic. Biodynamic gardeners sow according to the moon and the zodiac. They spray homeopathic remedies, some of which must be prepared in a sheep's skull or a deer's bladder. And they bury cow's horns filled with manure and quartz to focus "vital forces".
Biodynamic gardening is dismissed by the Royal Horticultural Society, and likened to witchcraft by leading plant scientists. Yet it still has its adherents. Former Formula 1 champion Jody Scheckter owns one of more than 120 biodynamic farms in the UK. The patron of the Biodynamic Association is Patrick Holden, the former director of the Soil Association. And the Prince of Wales, in his 2010 book Harmony, described moon planting as part of "a profound knowledge neglected by modern techniques".
Of course, some of the old folklore is sound. Techniques of rotating vegetable crops and creating compost survived because they work. But other nuggets passed down the generations are nonsense and, in a culture where gardening folklore is venerated, quackery and snake oil thrive.
There are signs of a change. In the US four horticultural scientists have got together to produce the blog Garden Professors, which exposes pseudo-science.
Dr Linda Chalker-Scott, of Washington State University and co-author of the blog, is passionate about exploding myths.
"As with many mythological practices, it can cause harm if the product is harvested or made in an unsustainable manner, if it causes environmental damage or it takes advantage of people's lack of knowledge and [affects] them financially," she says.
So what are the common myths that have been debunked by scientific research?
MYTH 1 Compost tea suppresses disease
If you believe the marketing, compost tea is the miracle additive of the 21st century. It is made by steeping compost in water mixed with sugar in brewing kits costing £30. The mixture is aerated to encourage organisms to grow before being sprayed on to plants. According to supporters, it increases plant growth, provides nutrients, adds beneficial organisms and suppresses disease. It is big in the US and is growing in popularity in the UK, fuelled by anecdotal evidence from gardeners.
Yet Dr Chalker-Scott remains unconvinced by the "fuzzy science" of compost tea. Six years ago her review of scientific literature found just seven studies on aerated compost tea. One suggested that bubbling air through the liquid reduced its efficacy, another that it was not effective in reducing apple scab and in some cases made scab worse. One suggested that it controlled fungi in a Petri dish, while three greenhouse tests had mixed results. Her own research on Washington State University cherry trees found that compost tea was no better than water.
Since then, a study led by Dr Bryant Scharenbroch at the Morton Arboretum Soil Science laboratory in Lisle, Illinois, and published in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry, suggested that compost tea was inferior to fertiliser at enhancing microbe activity in the soil.
Dr Jeff Gillman, a Garden Professors blogger and horticultural scientist at the University of Minnesota, likens it to a "magical elixir". "There is limited data showing it can be useful, but the bulk of data shows it is not beneficial," he says. "What is more concerning is that some of the data shows these buckets can provide a breeding ground for E coli bacteria and disease."
MYTH 2 Lighten clay by adding sand
Clay soil can be a gardening nightmare. It turns rock-hard when dry, drains badly, takes an age to warm up in spring and is tough to cultivate. However, it holds its nutrients better than most types of soil and, if drainage can be improved, it produces bountiful plants.
Soil is a mix of minerals, organic matter, water and air. The balance of those ingredients – and particularly the ratio of sand, silt and clay – affects quality dramatically.
Gardeners coping with particularly heavy clay soil are sometimes tempted to lighten it with sand. According to plant scientists, that will often make it worse. Leigh Hunt of the RHS says: "You need almost as much sand as you have clay. So people often do it on a limited scale – they dig a small area of half a square metre and incorporate sand. And that's where the problems start."
Sand particles are bigger than clay particles. As a consequence, clay is relatively impervious, while sand soils can absorb plenty of water.
Digging a hole and adding sand can create a sump that draws in water, drowning plants.
Converting a garden is a mammoth task. The RHS estimates that you would need 250kg of sand or grit for every square metre of clay soil.
"The best thing to do in this situation is to make a raised bed and then add the sand so the water has somewhere to go," says Hunt.
MYTH 3 Young trees should be staked
Tough love doesn't just apply to children – it also works for trees. While it may be tempting to secure a sapling to protect it from the wind, stakes can weaken plants. Leigh Hunt, an adviser at the Royal Horticultural Society, recommends that saplings be staked for the first year to 18 months. "After that you want to remove the stake because the tree can become reliant on it and you get a tree that is not as strong and stable," he says.
Botanists showed in the 1950s that trees allowed to sway with the wind grew thicker lower trunks than those staked. They also tend to have thicker branches, but don't grow as tall. In horticultural circles, the response of trees and plants to wind is called thigmomorphogenesis. The buffeting from winds releases ethylene gas, a growth mediator that triggers the formation of wood-strengthening lignin.
The RHS advises placing stakes at a 45-degree angle. They should be positioned so the prevailing wind blows the tree away from the support.
MYTH 4 Sun through water burns leaves
There are many good reasons to avoid watering plants in the sun. But sunburn is not one of them.
The belief that water droplets on plants focus solar rays and burn foliage has persisted for generations. However, in 2010 Dr Gábor Horváth and colleagues at the Eötvös University in Budapest found that water droplets were too close to leaves to cause burning before they evaporated. The only risk was on hairy plants such as ferns, which kept the droplets far enough away to act as lenses, they reported in New Phytologist.
Guy Barter said: "In 20 years of professional gardening, I've only seen it once and that was on French beans that we had watered from overhead. In the summer outdoors, it is best to water in the afternoon and evening to reduce the amount of evaporation. If you use a sprinkler system with a timer, it's best to do it before dawn because there tends to be less wind and it is cooler."
MYTH 5 Tree wounds need dressing
Countless generations of gardeners have painted tar or paint on wounds after lopping off branches. It was believed that, without protection, trees would be vulnerable to pests and disease. That myth was conclusively debunked in the 1970s and 80s by Dr Alex Shigo of the US Forest Service. Shigo was a passionate tree specialist whose theory of compartmentalisation of tree decay changed the way trees are pruned. He showed that, when trees are injured, they respond with chemical and physical changes, forming barriers that stop or slow the spread of disease and decay to the rest of the plant.
In 1983 in the Journal of Arboriculture, Shigo published results of 13 years of research on wound dressings. Applying tar does nothing to aid this process but can provide a home and protective layer for pests and fungi, he showed. It also inhibits the process of compartmentalisation.
MYTH 6 Biodynamic is best
The biodynamic movement was founded by Austrian teacher and occultist Rudolf Steiner in 1924. His system uses astrology to give days characteristics based on the classical elements of earth, water, air and fire. Carrots should be planted on an earth day, for instance, and apples on a fire day. There are complex preparations to spray on soil and crops, including homeopathic liquids based on healing herbs. The burial of a horn full of quartz or dung is said to harvest "cosmic forces". Supporters talk about energy levels, cosmic forces and vibrations. Alongside the magic is a strong organic principle. But does it work?
Teasing out the effects of organic farming from the mystical elements has been difficult. A Slovenian PhD student, Matjaz Turinek, for instance, concluded in 2011 that biodynamic farms had higher-quality soil than conventional ones. However, critics say that owes more to organic practices than to any spreading of potions.
A 21-year-long study led by Dr Paul Mader at the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture in Switzerland, published in Science in 2002, found that the soil quality in biodynamic fields was better than in conventional or organic fields but yields were lower.
The Royal Horticultural Society's science committee cannot find a scientific basis for planting by the moon. The Rothampstead Research Centre repeated the cow's horn recipe; after six months, it was still just unfermented silica and manure.
Professor Tony Trewavas, a plant scientist at the Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, said: "Vital forces don't exist, nor does the moon exert some special influence on seedling growth.
"Biodynamic farming does emphasise soil maintenance but any good conventional farmer does the same, without the rigmarole of vital forces."
MYTH 7 Gravel helps containers to drain
It is standard practice when filling a container to place stones or pieces of pot at the bottom "for drainage". But the evidence suggests that not only is it a waste of time, but it also restricts plant growth and results in roots sitting in water. Gilman says: "You have less space and the drainage is not as good, because water sits above the gravel or the stones."
Soil holds moisture better than gravel does. Water will cling to the fine particles in soil until it is completely saturated. Only then does it drain away. As long as there is a hole in the bottom of the container, water will find its way out without the need for stones. The only benefit to putting a piece of crockery in a container is to cover the hole to stop the compost escaping.
MYTH 8 Add bone meal and compost when planting trees
Gardening books often recommend adding bone meal to soil before planting a tree or shrub. The Garden Professor bloggers say that is a waste of time. Although bone meal contains calcium and phosphorus, which are needed for plant growth, the minerals are rarely in short supply in gardens or allotments.
Chalker-Scott says: "It does not stimulate plant growth. It is only a mineral, not a plant growth regulator."
A high concentration of phosphorus may do harm by inhibiting beneficial mycorrhizal fungi, she adds. These fungi occur naturally in the soil and create a secondary root system, drawing water and nutrients from the soil. If the fungi don't appear, trees and shrubs compensate by growing extra roots, at a cost to the rest of the plant.
Compost can also be harmful in holes dug for new trees.
Guy Barter, chief horticultural adviser at the RHS, says: "The compost rots and the tree settles down too far in the soil and as a result root and stem rot can set in. It's best to plant trees in plain old soil."
MYTH 9 Natural is safer
Pesticides may be against the spirit of organic gardening, but garden centre shelves are full of organic treatments for insects, slugs and fungi. Although they are labelled "natural", that doesn't make them friendly to the environment. Dr Gillman believes that gardeners all too often swallow the myth that organic is safe. Some natural home-made organic pesticides contain 20% vinegar, which is effective at killing the tops of plants, but not their roots, he said. It is also toxic for frogs and toads.
"The one I get upset about is Bordeaux mix, which is an organic treatment for potato blight and contains copper," he said. "We talk about how organic sprays break down in the soil, but copper is copper. It builds up and it can be harmful."
Another common organic bug killer is pyrethrum, made from an extract of chrysanthemumcorrect. Natural it may be; discriminating it is not. It will kill beneficial ladybirds and bumblebees as easily as it kills asparagus beetle.
"The idea behind organic gardening is good but, when you talk about pesticides, just because something is organic that does not mean it is safe. Every pesticide must be examined individually," says Gillman.
- L'Uritonnoir: the straw bale urinal that makes compost from 'liquid gold'
French design studio Faltazi has developed a plug-in funnel to upcycle urine and bring an eco message to summer festivals
"Are you used to going for a number one in the back of your garden?" asks French design studio Faltazi. "Do not waste this valuable golden fluid by sprinkling on inappropriate surfaces!"
Their solution to the problem of peeing al fresco is l'Uritonnoir, a hybrid of a urinal ("urinoir" in French) and a funnel ("entonnoir") that plugs into a straw bale to make your very own urine upcycling factory.
As the bale is filled with your "liquid gold", the nitrogen in the urine reacts with the carbon in the straw to begin the process of decomposition - forming a rich mound of composted humus within 6-12 months.
L'Uritonnoir was originally dreamt up with summer festivals in mind, where straw bales are often in frequent supply, but portaloos are not. The device comes as a flat polypropylene sheet, which is folded into shape and slotted together, then threaded on a looping band around the bale, its funnel wedged deep into the centre of the straw to channel the fluid to the composting core. A deluxe version is also available in stainless steel - presumably for the VIP bale urinal area.
The designers say their mission is to raise festival-goers' awareness of "dry urination, water saving and urine upcycling," and suggest the compost can kept on site and used in planters the following year to demonstrate its value. Production is set to begin in June, when the design will debut at the French heavy metal festival Hellfest.
L'Uritonnoir is just one part of Faltazi's wider Ekovores project, which is looking at how to introduce locally integrated systems of waste management and food production - from prefab modules for processing and preserving food, to facilities for reclaiming organic waste and an online platform for exchanging know-how.
L'Uritonnoir joins a growing trend for dry, organic toilets, and it is not the first time that urinating on to straw bales has been advocated. In 2009 the National Trust introduced "pee bales" in some of its gardens for male members of staff to relieve themselves, and encouraged people to do the same at home.
"Most people can compost in some way in their own gardens," said Rosemary Hooper, Wimpole estate's in-house master composter. "Peeing on a compost heap activates the composting process helps to produce a ready supply of lovely organic matter to add back to the garden. It's totally safe, and a bit of fun too."
- Chef Raymond Blanc and seed expert Bob Sherman on their relationship
How the illustrious French chef and his friend horticultural expert Bob Sherman bonded over seeds
His story Raymond Blanc, chef
My friendship with Bob is a by-product of my love affair with food and gardening. Fruit, vegetables, seeds, the environment – to me they are all sacred, but sadly they are all under threat from commercial influence.
Since I was a little boy I have been obsessed with the origin of natural produce, its history and concerned with how we protect and continue that history. It upsets me when I think about what is happening to our favourite foodstuffs. In this country we're not good at staying true to the true flavour of fruit and vegetables, and we've somehow managed to end up harming them with dangerous new stuffs like salt and sugar. These things are dreadful for our health.
In 1996 Bob became chief horticultural officer at Garden Organic, a wonderful charity I was working with. One day he made a speech about protecting the heritage of our seeds and talked about the Heritage Seed Library in West Sussex. It was his passion and energy that made me think: "I want to work with this man." Since that day I have made organic gardening and spreading the message a priority. I even adopted a vegetable – the French bean, bien sûr.
In 2004 I became vice president of Garden Organic, which meant I got to know Bob even better. We seemed to hit it off amazingly well, which must be because we are opposites. He is a quiet Englishman who doesn't try to take credit for anything; I am a French chef with thousands of ideas that I cannot get out of my mouth quickly enough.
I will never forget how modest Bob was after organising a hugely successful conference at Highgrove in 2011. He gained the support and involvement of Prince Charles, who has been a big influence on keeping away GM foods and stem-cell modification, and safeguarding rare vegetable varieties.
This is Bob's final year at Garden Organic before he retires, and we have collaborated on a wonderful – albeit at the moment top secret – project that we're hoping the public will love. It has required both sides of our expertise, and I am just happy that I could be involved. I think this final project together will demonstrate just how committed we both are to the heritage of produce. Bob says he is retiring this year, but I cannot imagine it. I have learned a lot from him, and I feel like he still has a lot to learn from me.
Raymond Blanc will take part in the Relais & Châteaux Dîner des Grands Chefs charity event on 22 April. For details visit dinerdesgrandschefs.com
His story Bob Sherman, chief horticultural officer at Garden Organic
Raymond had already started gardening organically by the time we met and agreed wholeheartedly with the ethos behind the Heritage Seed Library that I was heading. I was impressed. He spoke with vigour and enthusiasm about the very thing I have made my entire life's preoccupation – I love to associate myself with people like that because you can learn a lot.
We've only ever disagreed about food. Specifically salsify. We took a walk around Ryton Gardens in Coventry once, when Raymond thought he spotted some. I told him that though it was similar in appearance and even taste, it was in fact Scorzonera, which is almost identical but has a different coloured root. Raymond disagreed, and though it felt strange to disagree back, especially about food, we went back and forth for a while, but I knew I was right.
I know nothing about cooking, though, and couldn't wait to eat at Le Manoir. When I was first invited there with my boss, I assumed Raymond wanted advice on horticulture. Turns out he was treating us to lunch – and I was delighted. But on first glance the menu was meat heavy and I, being a vegetarian, started to panic. Raymond noticed, scurried out of the dining room and returned with an elaborate, beautifully composed vegetarian menu. Raymond chatted for four hours with us and didn't leave the table except to fetch our next course.
His level of excellence is second to none, but he's not bullish like you could perhaps imagine other chefs to be. His staff love him, even if it is hard to keep up with the man. In meetings Raymond shares his ideas, and as he speaks they develop into regional, national then global campaigns. Before you know it, there are six or seven ideas on the table. He has great insight, great vision – and it's a massively impressive experience watching him work.
From the organisation's point of view Raymond brings us a very high-profile endorsement to show that what we are doing is not nuts. It's not fringe. This is something people need to pay attention to. Personally, I'm proud to know someone who has achieved so much. And I like the man. He's never nasty to people. You see him on TV and that's who he is in real life, too.
If you'd like to appear in this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Armed and dangerous: how to tackle pests and diseases in small gardens
When slugs, snails, bindweed and box blight strike, should we reach for a bottle of something deadly or stick to organic tactics? Garden designer Kate Gould weighs up the options
Once you've designed, built and planted your garden you can stand back and enjoy the garden you have created. Unfortunately nature doesn't stand still just because you are. There are the pests you can see: creatures lurking in the corners, and the diseases you can't - fungal infections that blow in on the breeze.
Dealing with pests (and I class weeds such as bindweed, ground elder, nettles and brambles as pests too) and diseases in the garden can be problematic. Are synthetic chemicals quicker and better? Sometimes is the answer is yes, but having battled slugs and snails, vine weevils and lily beetles, rust, mildew, blight and pernicious weeds over the years, I am more inclined now to try to tackle the problem as organically as possible.
There are a few things that I do apply chemicals to, especially in the garden at the office which I don't have a lot of time to maintain. Bindweed besieges all of the fences, and although I pull it out whenever I see it, I will apply a gel-based weedkiller if I know I won't be able to get into the garden for a week or two. This keeps it at bay long enough for me then to get outside and pull it out when I next have time. If I didn't, it would be six feet up the birch in the blink of an eye. I keep the ground elder under control by pulling it out regularly. It still pushes through but in far less quantity than before and although this approach is a slow one, it does bring a great deal of satisfaction.
One of the major destruction foes in the garden are the molluscs; slugs and snails can turn a hosta leaf into a doily over night. Whatever approach you take here isn't pleasant. Slug pellets aren't great and need refreshing often, especially after rain. Slug Clear, a liquid based systemic killer, is more efficient: it has no surface trace the way pellets do and so seems safer when children and pets use the garden. Both of these aren't in the least bit organic though. If you prefer a more natural approach, scooped-out citrus fruit halves filled with beer set into a hollow in the soil at least provide a "happy" end.
Copper mats and rings repel slugs and snails, or you could simply go out when the molluscs are most active at night and collect them and repatriate them well away from your garden (and everyone else's – you won't be popular if you spread them to your neighbours). But be warned: slugs and snails can travel further than you think and may well reappear. Nematodes, tiny parasites that attack slugs and snails (and other pests too) are an option if watered on early enough. April is a good time, as long as the weather is warm enough and nemasysinfo.co.uk has an amazing array of creatures that pray on pests as well as very helpful advice. The Royal Horticultural Society website, contains a wealth of knowledge both for organic and non-organic solutions. And remember - your pest is another animal's food. Hedgehogs and birds will feast on all manner of pests, so if you can go without chemicals you will increase the chance of encouraging wildlife into your garden to feed.
Airborne fungal diseases are another matter and this year box blight (Cylindrocladium blight) has been a real problem. The wet weather has worsened the spread of the disease and since there is no real control; the only things you can do are to keep the plants immaculate; clear up any fallen leaves, make sure the ground around the plant is well drained and keep the plant fed. Some plants will recover if and when the weather improves: Lonicera pileata and Ilex crenata are good substitutes and are not affected by blight.
All forms of mildew, black spot and rust can also me controlled with good husbandry, as can lily beetle and vine weevil. If you know the signs, you can avert the problem before it becomes too serious. Look for square notches on the edges of leaves that mean vine weevil are present (Rhododendron, Heuchera and Sedum are particular favourites) and douse the roots with nematodes. Lily beetles don't do themselves many favours in the camouflage department and their scarlet bodies can be seen from a distance from spring to autumn. Their larvae are terribly destructive and have really unpleasant characteristics (covering themselves with their own excrement, to be precise) which makes the most effective organic control of hand picking them off your lilies - a job that definitely requires gloves.
It has been simple in years past to head straight to the shed for a can of something deadly whenever a plant was besieged in the garden, but in my experience the slow approach can be equally as effective. And you are safe in the knowledge that you know what you are putting on your plants and in the ground and, in the long term, what you are exposing yourself to.
Kate Gould is an award-winning garden designer and a regular exhibitor at the Chelsea Flower Show. This is the latest in her series of monthly posts on design tips for transforming small gardens: read the rest here.
- France's small-scale organic farmers celebrate 10 years of boxing clever
Scheme provides consumers with direct access to produce and allows growers to plan for the long term
Vivien Lamouret, 30-ish, is only too happy to explain his work as a market-gardener. Based at Mareil-sur-Mauldre, a village 40km west of Paris, he sells all the organic vegetables he grows direct to consumers, thanks to the system invented by the Associations for the Preservation of Peasant Farming (Amap).
By joining an Amap, consumers deal directly with growers, committing themselves several months ahead of the harvest to buy a selection of fruit and vegetables from a particular farmer. Lamouret works with two groups, in which consumers pay in advance for 20 boxes. "It makes things so much easier. I can plan my earnings over several months before starting to sell the goods," he explains. He joined the scheme in 2005.
In his greenhouses, which extend over about 1,200 square metres, green sprouts are poking out of the neatly tilled earth, the beginnings of countless carrots, lettuces and spinach plants. At the height of the season he works 60 or 70 hours a week.
The first Amap groups started in 2001 and now there are almost 1,600, with regular deliveries of 66,000 boxes to some 270,000 consumers.
The buyers, referred to as Amapiens, prefer fairly small groups. "We distribute 60 boxes a week. To maintain a local spirit we don't want to get any bigger. It's hard enough as it is to know everybody," says Charles Brossolet, head of Les Lapereaux des Thermopyles, an Amap operating in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. To cope with demand other groups have been set up in the neighbourhood, he says.
Market-gardeners are struggling to keep up. Christine Aubry, an agronomist at France's National Institute for Agricultural Research (Inra), has identified "265 groups ready to launch an Amap but unable to find suppliers".
François Pelatan, who contributed to developing Amaps in south-west France, says there have been a few mistakes. "Consumers can sometimes be just a little bit too demanding for growers who are only just starting," he says.
At Vitrolles, near Marseille, Jean-Jacques Anglade also remembers a difficult start: "The first year almost half the group left. They wanted to eat organic at a reasonable price, but weren't the least bit committed to supporting small farmers. Others took their place," he says.
The group now has 80 members. They pay €23 ($30) for a big box of produce or €13 for a small one. Rather than just signing up for a supply of fruit and vegetables, they have joined a partnership with smallholders producing fruit, honey, eggs, meat and organic flour.
Amaps now face increasing competition from shops and supermarkets selling organic food. Even the French rail operator SNCF is distributing boxes. The food industry and retailers increasingly cite local producers in an attempt to authenticate their goods. "But organic retailers import much of what they sell. Some of the boxes on offer are not up to peasant farming standards. And a lot of the growers supplying organic food to big retailers only do one crop," Anglade says.
In the midst of his greenhouses Lamouret readily acknowledges his personal commitment. "I love the land and I respect it too," he says. In the next field he has just planted some fruit trees, to add some extra variety to his boxes.
This article originally appeared in Le Monde
Organic Gardening: The latest tips, advice and news
- Slugs: they're back - leaving a trail of slime and devastation
It's possible to see the good in many garden pests - but there's absolutely nothing to be said for the slug, says Amanda Craig
- Gardening group hit by rainfall
Peat and horticultural product supplier William Sinclair blamed "once in a 100 years wet weather" after it fell to a full-year loss.
- Organic food's salad days are over
As the health benefits of organic foods are called into question, Harry Wallop revels in shopping for guilt-free groceries
- The Yeo Valley garden keeps organics at its heart
If your forebears founded dairy food brand Yeo Valley, it makes sense to embrace your organic heritage and let it blossom, says Sarah Raven.
- Hay Festival 2012: Monty Don - BBC should not be bullied by wealthy pesticide companies
The horticulture expert says the BBC should not be "pushed around and bullied" by chemical companies promoting pesticides to gardeners.
- Engaging with the Scottish Government
The need for transitional arrangements for organic conversion and maintenance 2014-2015
The Scottish Organic Forum is engaging in negotiations with Scottish Government to secure ongoing funding for organic farming during the transition period to the new Rural Development Programme. Our proposal is based on annual extensions to existing Rural Priorities contracts, which is a system recently announced by the Welsh devolved government.
- Weather Aid Scheme (Scotland) 2013
£6 million aid package for livestock and arable farmers -- APPLICATIONS OPEN.
- Soil Association highlights greenwash labelling on high street beauty products
Speaking today (3 June) at the Organic Natural Beauty Show, Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director highlights the number of harmful chemicals found in beauty products labelled as ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ or ‘nature inspired’.
- Updated Organic Action Plan represents new opportunities for organic farmers
On Monday 27th May, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead launched the updated Organic Action Plan at Pitgaveny Farm, Elgin.
The updated Organic Action Plan for 2013-2015, which first published in 2011, introduces new initiatives to help meet growing consumer demand for organic produce.
The plan includes new actions to:
• help farmers develop their skills
• identify and promote export opportunities to exploit expanding organic markets
• help to support, stimulate and facilitate new product development in the organic sector
- Soil Association/GOTS Organic Cotton briefing paper goes global
The Soil Association is pleased to announce the ‘Have you Cottoned On Yet?’ organic cotton briefing is now available in German, Japanese and Chinese translations.