Brexit and Grow It Yourself (GIY): A golden opportunity for sustainable farming

Brexit and Grow It Yourself (GIY): A golden opportunity for sustainable farming

Dave Goulson

In this Briefing, biologist and bee expert Professor Dave Goulson argues that gardens and allotments could play a significant part in helping us to produce food more sustainably, while at the same time restoring biodiversity and protecting nature. The collapse in insect populations is one of the most worrying symptoms of climate breakdown, because insects sit at the base of many food chains, including ours. Unlike industrial farming, which relies heavily on pesticides, small-scale growers and gardeners can create ideal habitats for insects.

Allotments and gardens can also provide clues on how we can produce ample, healthy food in a sustainable way. Studies on the productivity of allotments show that they can produce the equivalent of 35 tonnes of food per hectare. The food grown on allotments is healthy, local, pesticide-free, creates zero waste and involves no packaging.

Currently, an estimated 90,000 people are on waiting lists for an allotment in Britain. The briefing argues that by leaving the Common Agricultural Policy, the UK could divert some of the £3.5 billion currently given out in farm subsidies to purchase land for allotments and invest in making small-scale, sustainable farming financially viable.

Professor Goulson’s book, ‘The Garden Jungle’ is published by Penguin on 11 July 2019.

About the author

Dave Goulson

Dave Goulson

Dave Goulson is Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex, specialising in bee ecology. He has published more than 290 scientific articles on the ecology and conservation of bumblebees and other insects. He is the author of Bumblebees; Their Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation, published in 2010 by Oxford University Press, and of the Sunday Times bestseller A Sting in the Tale, a popular science book about bumblebees, published in 2013 by Jonathan Cape, and now translated into fourteen languages. This was followed by A Buzz in the Meadow in 2014, Bee Quest in 2017, and The Garden Jungle in 2019. Goulson founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2006, a charity which has grown to 12,000 members. He was the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s Social Innovator of the Year in 2010, was given the Zoological Society of London’s Marsh Award for Conservation Biology in 2013, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2013, and given the British Ecological Society Public Engagement Award in 2014. In 2015 he was named Number 8 in BBC Wildlife Magazine’s list of the top 50 most influential people in conservation.

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