The English Organic Forum (EOF)* has opened a new chapter by discussing Terms of Reference at a meeting at Soil Association‘s Bristol offices Friday 15 March 2019. There was consensus on all issues discussed and the interim-secretary organisation for 2019 was voted as Garden Organic and the interim-chair Dr Christopher Stopes (formally IFOAM EU President). It is hoped that with the new ToR the public voice of the Organic Movement in Englandwill be significantly strengthened.
*Membership to the English Organic Forum is open to organisations and individuals with an interest in and experience of organic food, farming and growing (Coventry University’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience is a member).
On Friday, 8 March Coventry University held it’s second focus group on the perceptions of contentious inputs in organic agriculture. This time it was a selection of already very committed organic consumers. There was lively discussion and in addition to antibiotics and plastic, which were raised already by the mixed consumer group, supermarkets in general, and the perception of organic as a fashion trend came under intense scrutiny. With focus groups in Norway and Italy also under way we hope to get a more detailed picture of perceptions of contentious inputs published.
Innovative technique: wooden studs inoculated with Trichoderma fungi to suppress pathogens.
“In this EIP Operational Group, we want to test the antagonistic activity of Trichoderma fungal species, applying in pruning wounds as usual, but also through its inoculation in the base of the trunk. The aim is to demonstrate the efficiency of this innovative practice. The test field for our Operational Group is located at the Godeval Winery in Xagoaza, Galicia. José Luis Bartolomé from the Godeval Winery tells us: “The inoculation of these fungi by wooden studs sounded a very promising technique for us. Due to the fact that this technique was earlier tested in our winery and because of the experience that we already had, it was a logical choice to continue this research in our winery.”
Biocyclic vegan agriculture is a form of organic farming that uses only plant-based inputs. Since November 2017, the Biocyclic Vegan Standard has been available worldwide as a global standard for vegan organic farming accredited by IFOAM. This is in-line with Organic-PLUS’s aim to phase-out the use of conventional (non-organic) manure in organic systems. Biocyclic vegan agriculture does, however, permit fertility sources from conventionally raised plants. For example, fertiliser derived from conventional sugar-beet waste.
On Wednesday 12th December, Sustain(‘the alliance for better food and farming’), which is an associate partner of Organic-PLUS, met for their AGM and Annual Gathering at the Canal Museum, King’s Cross, London. Dr Ulrich Schmutz and Judith Conroy represented Organic-PLUS and also the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, whose membership was officially ratified at the meeting.
Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, to improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture, and promote equity. The alliance represents around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local level.
The conference attracts a wide range of delegates including farmers, researchers and retailers, so we took the opportunity to speak to people and collect their views on contentious inputs such as copper fungicides, peat and plastic mulches as well as the potential alternatives.