Climate change is already impacting food supplies, and is forecast to create much greater disruption in the years ahead. Seeding our Future commissioned this research to understand both the threats and the scope for positive adaptation, especially in South-West England, one of the focus areas for Seeding our Future’s work.
This report shows how adaptive cultivation methods and changing crop choices can enable producers in this region and in Britain generally to maintain and increase production, despite increasing weather extremes.
It is relatively easier for Britain to adapt to future climate impacts here, than other parts of the world: for example, the Mediterranean Basin, which is a major supplier to Britain, is expected to see major drops in output in the coming decades due to prolonged droughts.
This report highlights ways that UK producers can reduce our dependence on imports, which is especially acute for vegetables and fruit. Growing through Climate Change also shows how consumers can adapt to climate change, not only by supporting local producers, but by trying innovative new products and dietary changes, for example home-grown legumes.
Seeding our Future is working with producers and consumers in and around our home community of Bridport, West Dorset, to apply insights from this research. The ways we are doing this include:
- Encouraging consumers to buy local, and try new, climate-adaptive crops and processed products.
- Sharing this information with professional growers and arable farmers.
- Offering info and support to home growers, for example through our Ambassador Allotments scheme.
- Helping to increase local production, by seeking land and seed capital.
We hope that our experience in Bridport will help other communities: you can see more at our website: https://www.seedingourfuture.org.uk/local-communities, where you can also sign up for our periodic newsletters.
Currently the UK produces 60% of its overall food, down from 80% in 1984. Increasing the level of self-sufficiency should be a high priority for local food economies, and for Government policy. In an ideal world, the changes suggested by this report would have strong financial and policy support from the UK Government. That looks unlikely at present, so a crucial enabler for change is consumers and local community groups, and innovative farmers who are willing to try new practices and crops. This report details the actions that these groups can take.
This report offers detailed insights for arable farmers, professional horticultural growers, home growers and consumers. The research is available free of charge. For more information, click on one of the links below: