Protected cropping consultation 2011

Growing crops in a glasshouse or polytunnel is one way to provide more healthy local food by increasing productivity and extending the UK growing season. But if these ‘protected cropping’ systems are to make a contribution to the resilience of our food supply it is important to ensure that they are managed as sustainably as possible.

A number of organic growers produce crops under cover, and protected cropping in the UK ranges from small individual polytunnels up to large specialised heated glasshouses. However, the current organic standards applied in the UK and in Europe were designed primarily for growing outside and are not always suitable for the very different growing environment within a protected structure.

The Soil Association aims to develop robust, practical standards for organic protected cropping and we held a public consultation in 2010 as the first step in this process. We invited discussion on how best to address the key issues around fertility, crop rotation, soil, water and energy use, and your responses guided the development of a set of standards proposals, presented in the document below. We held a second round of consultation in April/May 2010 to gather feedback on the proposals. This has now closed.