Join forces with nature to look after life on and in earth: Radio 4 appeal

Horticulturist, farmer and writer Monty Don will be broadcasting a BBC Radio 4 Appeal on behalf of the Soil Association on Sunday 28th August to raise funds to support the Innovative Farmers Programme which leads pioneering research into sustainable and nature-friendly farming methods.

Monty Don - photo credit Marsha Arnold

Photo credit Marsha Arnold

Monty Don has been a supporter of the Soil Association for over 25 years and is a former president of the charity. He is also a passionate advocate of soil health and the need to change the way we farm to protect our soils and climate so that they can feed people for generations to come.

He begins the appeal saying: “As a gardener and also a farmer I have relied on the soil to nourish me all my life. Soil sustains us, feeds us, nurtures our wildlife and captures carbon from the air. But all too often it is treated literally like dirt, and as a result, much of the UK’s soil is now in crisis.”

To donate visit BBC Radio 4 Appeal between Sunday 28 August and 11.59pm on Saturday 3rd September or call 0800 404 8144.

Monty describes how the Soil Association works with farmers and growers through the Innovative Farmers Programme to help them to produce food for us in ways that are better for nature, our health and the global climate. Soil Association’s Innovative Farmers Programme bring together farmers and researchers in ‘field labs’ to test farming methods that are right for climate, nature, and for them.

To date Innovative Farmers, which is in its tenth year, has conducted over 120 farmer-led research projects involving over 12,000 farmers, such as using natural flower margins to attract predatory insects and combining trees with farm animals in agroforestry.

In the appeal Monty highlights a recent Innovative Farmers field lab where farmer, Frances Standen, in North Yorkshire was experimenting with nature as a natural pest control by planting flowers and grasses in her field margins to attract predatory insects to eat the pests.

The Soil Association connected her with a group of farmers and provided them with the resources they needed to set up a ‘field lab’ where together they could explore how many more flowers and wild plants on their farms could encourage more predatory insects which eat pests on crops, reducing the need for chemical pesticides and in the process attract many more birds, bats and other wildlife to farms.

Monty said: “There are many more Soil Association ‘field labs’ running across the country looking at a wide range of sustainable solutions: such as supporting farmers to farm with trees, and increasing the fertility of soil with earthworms. But there’s still so much more we must do to protect our soil. And if you donate to Soil Association to fund more field labs, a group of generous supporters will match your donation until the first £10,000 is raised.

The Soil Association urgently needs your help to increase the support they can give to farmers and growers directly. Giving a donation today will help farmers develop more nature-friendly farming solutions, providing a sustainable food and farming future.”


Hear about the appeal in Monty's own words

To donate visit BBC Radio 4 Appeal between Sunday 28 August and 11.59pm on Saturday 3rd September or call 0800 404 8144.

Or donations can be made anytime directly to the Soil Association via the website


Innovative Farmers partners:

Innovative Farmers partners

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