Dartmoor Farm piloting new Regenerative farming certification scheme

Mark Owen, Challacombe Farm,Dartmoor. Mark with his dogs Nukka,Moss and Scarlett , and livestock on the moor above his farmhouse.

Challacombe Farm, a nature friendly Dartmoor farm, has been selected as one of just 50 farms across four continents to be one of the inaugural pilots for a new farm accreditation scheme – ‘Certified Regenerative’ run by the non-profit organisation ‘A Greener World’.

This new certification covers sustainability; measuring benefits for soil, water, air, biodiversity, infrastructure, animal welfare and social responsibility.

The pilot farms in Australia, Namibia, South Africa, Canada, USA and the UK were selected based on a variety of factors including agricultural experience, regenerative principles, market or educational impact and geographical diversity and will work with A Greener World during 2021 to evaluate standards, plans and auditing procedures.

The key features of the programme include transparent, rigorous standards; high animal welfare; a holistic, farmer-led approach; and a pragmatic, science-based approach.

Mark Owen from Challacombe Farm says: “We’re really excited to be part of this pilot programme. We already aspire to be as environmentally friendly as possible in how we look after our patch of Dartmoor, balancing the needs of wildlife, the landscape, and heritage, whilst maintaining high animal welfare standards, but this new certification will stretch us to look again at every aspect of how we farm.

‘Our cows, sheep and ponies have an essential role in maintaining a range of important semi-natural wildlife habitats found across the farm that are home to many rare species such as orchids, cuckoos, the marsh fritillary butterfly and the bog hoverfly. Their dung also provides food for insects that in turn are food for birds. To reduce their impact, we already farm organically; our livestock are 100% grass fed (so eat no imported grains or soya), and we sell meat locally (through our website and a local farmer’s market) to minimise food miles. Alongside this we are looking at how carbon can be sequestered into our grassland soils, managing our wetlands to build up more peat and planting more trees – all of which should also benefit wildlife.

Having support and advice to write the Regenerative Plan and putting into place specific goals, and targets / timelines that will be checked by an independent body will give us more focus moving forward and a benchmark against which we can measure our progress.”

A Greener World UK/Europe Executive Director Wayne Copp says: “The term ‘regenerative’ is already being thrown around like ‘sustainable’ was a decade ago, and is being used to ‘greenwash’ products or make them seem more environmentally sustainable than they are.

‘Our new Certified Regenerative by AGW programme seeks to protect farmers and consumers by establishing clear standards and a label that farmers and consumers can trust to deliver a genuinely positive outcome: on the farm, at the table, and for the planet.

‘The interest in our Certified Regenerative by AGW programme has been overwhelming—and the excellent applications made for a difficult selection process, but we are thrilled with the results. The innovative farms participating in this pilot are helping to deliver a certification that both farmers and consumers can trust to deliver a genuinely positive outcome: on the farm, at the table, and for the planet. We know that truly regenerative farming requires accountability to each other and to all of the communities to which we belong—whether they be plant, animal, human, or the environment we all share. We have been humbled by the groundswell of interest from farmers and eaters alike and look forward to sharing our collective journey.”

You can find out more about Challacombe Farm and buy their meat at www.dartmoorfarm.com. For updates follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

Laura White

Author: Laura White

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