10th November 2020


Price: £FREE - booking required


Online Booking via Eventbrite essential – Numbers are limited.

The crucial role of living soils: the speakers will focus on issues vital for future sustainability. What is the problem and what can we do?

Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon are delighted that Dr Matthew Shepherd, Soil Biology Senior Specialist, Natural England, and further speakers, Helen Taylor and Cate Le Grice Mack, have agreed to give online presentations to help us understand more about the essential role of living soils, as our previously planned live day event cannot take place this year, due to COVID 19 restrictions.

2020 has brought into sharp focus the vital role of a varied, well-balanced diet of healthy food, and the overwhelming importance of acting urgently to safeguard the environment, mitigate climate change and avert the ecological crisis. Healthy soils are a fundamental prerequisite for all of these.
The aim of our event is to bring together farmers and producers, consumers (that’s all of us!) including foodies and environmentalists, and those of us who just want to know more about how life in the soil relates to – nutritious food, healthy soils, mitigation of climate change and reduction in flooding and drought, soil carbon storage, food for wildlife and a more sustainable future. We need a widely shared understanding of these important issues and how we can all contribute to a better future.

According to the UN about a third of land globally is degraded, jeopardising future sustainability.

“Our soils are in danger because of expanding cities, deforestation, unsustainable land use and management practices, pollution, overgrazing and climate change. The current rate of soil degradation threatens the capacity to meet the needs of future generations. The promotion of sustainable soil and land management is central to ensuring a productive food system, improved rural livelihoods and a healthy environment.” (UN International Year of Soils 2015)

We will be hearing from speakers with expert knowledge about how careful soil management can lead to positive change; how UK farmers and producers are increasingly focussing on this now; and how important it is for all of us, as consumers, to support this process of ensuring that soil is managed sustainably by choosing well-produced food.


Chair: Helen Taylor, who works with environmentally-focussed organisations.

7pm Welcome and Introduction

7.05pm Dr Matthew Shepherd, Natural England, will explore how we’ve impacted on our living soils, their vital functions, and their biodiversity, and how we can improve how we look after soil life.

7.45pm Helen Taylor will introduce some of the positive frameworks being developed for regenerative farming.

7.55pm Cate Le Grice Mack will share her first-hand experience of how converting to a regenerative farming approach (organic) improved soil health and biodiversity on her arable farm and how a neighbouring dairy farm (Ivy House Organic Dairy) found similar benefits. At the same time, improved soil management resulted in high quality food and successful farming businesses.

8.10pm Questions

8.40pm Close

Citizen Science You will be invited prior to the event to take part in some home-based Citizen’s Science, if you wish. Dr Shepherd will give details of a test that can be carried out on your farm, garden or allotment soil (or ask a friend or neighbour) – the results to be submitted to him in advance of meeting. Dr Shepherd’s talk will then reflect these findings and help guide interpretation.

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