Patrick Holden is one of the big names in the UK organic scene. Based in west Wales, he was one of the people that shaped my ideas of alternative agriculture. My other half used to take teams of school children to his farm for carrot weeding, many years ago. And every time I ran out of money as a youngster I'd work packing organic veggies at Organic Farm Foods, which supplied supermarkets all over the UK. He's now a CBE - it's good to see that innovators can get the recognition that their work deserves!
In November, Patrick delivered a talk on “Soil, Food and Health” at the Bloomberg School at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s 16th annual Edward and Nancy Dodge Lecture. The address focused on the need for agriculture to shift its focus from chemistry to biology. Mainstream agriculture, Holden said, has created a catastrophe in the making with regard to soil. This “soil abuse” is a result of using petrochemical fertilisers, pesticides, and other unsustainable practices in order to increase crop yields. While the short-term effect of these methods may be increased crop yields, the long-term effects are contributing to what he calls the irreversible breakdown of the planet’s natural systems. “That breakdown will be okay in a Gaian sense,” he said, “but not from a human standpoint.”
"Patrick Holden is a pioneer of the modern sustainable food movement and the Founding Director of the Sustainable Food Trust. Between 1995 and 2010 he was the Director of the Soil Association and became a much sought after speaker and campaigner for organic food and farming. He spearheaded a number of prominent food campaigns around BSE, pesticide residues and GM food. More recently, he was a member of the UK Government's working group on the Foresight report into Future of Food and Farming and is Advisor to the Prince of Wales International Sustainability Unit.
Patrick grew up in London but was deeply influenced by a year he spent in California at the beginning of the seventies. He returned to the UK to study biodynamic agriculture and started a community dairy farm in West Wales in 1973. It is now the longest established organic dairy farm in Wales, with a herd of 75 Ayrshire cows -- the milk from which is made into raw milk cheese by his son, Sam.
He was awarded the CBE for services to organic farming in 2005."