A decade ago, when LEAF – Linking Environment And Farming – published its first progress report, it would have been fair to say that the 'sustainable' farming principles it was promoting were still far from the mainstream.
But LEAF's tenth annual Global Impacts Report emerges into a very different world, where nothing happens without having its carbon counted, and the protection of environment and biodiversity is near the top of the political agenda.
Farmer-led LEAF, therefore, has somewhat come into its prime just in time, offering up a well-established and certified model of how to farm productively while cutting emissions, increasing carbon sequestration, enhancing water and soil quality and health, using more renewable sources of energy, enhancing biodiversity, and connecting to the public.
The body has actually been on the go for more than 30 years, developing and promoting its Integrated Farm Management ethos, which treats every farm business as unique, and formulates a site-specific plan to get the best out of each. It now has 877 LEAF Marque certified businesses in 19 countries worldwide, representing 310,537 ha of combinable crops, fruit and vegetables, flowers, and ornamentals. Almost half – 48% – of the UK’s fruit and vegetables are now grown by LEAF Marque certified businesses, including 95% of its celery, 91% lettuce, 85% asparagus, parsnips, and leeks.
Launching the report, chairman Tom Green said: “LEAF recognises that the climate and ecosystem emergency is one of the biggest challenges of our time, and with the UK government committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% and global targets set by the UN at net zero carbon emissions by 2050, agriculture is under an intense spotlight. Globally, farmers are increasingly adopting more sustainable, regenerative, and circular farming practices to protect and enhance depleted natural resources and ecosystems. "LEAF Marque certification helps provide the leadership, advice and tools for farmers and growers to improve the sustainability of their operations and how this can be evidenced in a robust and independent way for consumers and brands.
"The growing reach and awareness of LEAF Marque both here in the UK and worldwide, is supporting the advancement of real and lasting change in food production," said Mr Green. "I want to thank our many supply chain partners and LEAF Marque growers and congratulate them all for what they are achieving. It is their commitment and leadership that enables us together, to continue to ‘raise the bar’ for the good of our planet and future generations.”