Veg image.jpeg

Six months of Organic for All

Six months of Organic for All

It’s been six months since we launched Organic for All – a new vision for the UK organic sector with the aim of making organic food affordable, available and accessible for everyone in society. We’ve been blown away by the response so far.

One of the key messages that has had resounding support is the idea that food which is good for people and the planet should be for everyone, and it’s an outrage that it’s not. Organic for all is a no-brainer! But even in the last few weeks, the Food Farming and Countryside Commission released some stark public opinion stats. Four out of five think everyone should have healthy food, but less than one in ten think it’s affordable to most people. This is exactly the kind of reality we’re trying to change.

So much has happened in a short amount of time, so here are just some of my highlights.

Support for UK organic farming

It’s clear that there’s so much more organic food that we could be growing and producing right here in the UK. Our Organic Market Report, released in February, highlighted the missed opportunity - showing that organic sales are growing faster than organic land area is in the UK. We’ve stepped up our work promoting stronger policy support for organic farming, as it’s clear farmers won’t switch to organic unless the right incentives are there for them to do so. This is seen in practice around the world, and it’s why we see figures like 27.5 percent of farmland under organic in Austria, compared to just 3 percent here in the UK.

A big feature of our work over the last six months has been identifying the sectors and supply chains where we can help give organic a boost by unblocking challenges and connecting key players. To this end, we held an arable roundtable last month to understand how we can release the potential for organic arable crops in the UK. At the moment, it seems around 90 percent of organic arable crops (like wheat) are imported when they could be grown here. There are lots of complicated reasons why that’s the case, so we are bringing together those who can figure out the puzzle and unlock the huge potential. That way, all the benefits of organic farming can be seen and felt on farms and in fields across the UK.

Public procurement – a growing opportunity for organic

Another area where we’re trying to address challenges and scale impact is by linking up local organic producers with public procurement – in other words, places like schools and hospitals. We’re also doing some exciting work in Scotland, in collaboration with our friends at Sustain. We’re linking local organic farms with schools in Aberdeenshire to provide organic peas for 8,000 meals a day. It’s a win-win situation, providing healthy and nutritious food for school children whilst providing a steady and reliable market, so that Scottish organic farms can thrive.

This is just the start - we want to see more work like this happen. This month, we’re bringing together leaders from some of the most inspiring food hubs across the UK, so we can understand what they need to grow their impact and how we can help see their models used elsewhere.

Delivering on net zero and biodiversity targets

Finally, a key part of unlocking organic for all involves making sure that those with the power to drive the shift understand the potential of what organic can deliver. We’ve applied for funding to help curate all the latest available research and hope to hear if we’ve been successful in the next few months. In the meantime, we’re already talking to businesses, investors and policy makers about how organic delivers against their net zero and biodiversity strategies. We’ve also been doing awareness raising activities and events with colleagues across the charity and Soil Association Certification leading industry discussion across conferences, exhibitions and webinars

I’m excited about the momentum that’s building around Organic for All. Over the last six months, it’s been particularly great to work closely with some brilliant organisations who are walking with us on this journey. We feel confident that we can make organic for all a reality in the UK, but we can’t do it alone.

Why not get involved, expand your organic network, make change, tell us and the rest of the world about it? All of this takes time, passion and expertise. If you believe in the Soil Association's work to accelerate this change, and if you are in a position to afford it, your funding will help us run further and faster.