Growing without chemicals
At Common Soil all of our food is grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilisers. We feel passionately about food being grown as naturally as possible with great love and care. We want the world to be bursting with life for future generations and a safe place for bees… and humans – and everything in between!
What’s the issue?
Pesticides are not only extremely energy intensive to produce, they do not stay neatly to their intended purpose – of managing pests and diseases on food crops. Wildflowers on verges are often contaminated with pesticides, which is one indicator of how some agricultural practices, such as relying on chemicals, are poisoning the world at large. An impact of this is on insect populations, who now face a cocktail of agricultural chemicals. In the UK, there has been a 60% decline in flying insects since 2004. This has scary and significant implications for our whole ecosystem, and our food supply, which is so reliant on pollinators to ensure plants bear the fruit that we plan to eat.
Chemical food production is also wreaking havoc in human bodies. One example is glyphosate, which is used extensively in UK agriculture. It targets protein structures in human cells which can lead to a leak in the gut lining, furthering chronic inflammation. Widespread chronic diseases, such as asthma, Alzheimer’s, and cancer, can be traced to gut disruption and inflammation linked to glyphosate use. This is just one example of chemical damage to human systems, among many.
What we do
At Common Soil we never use chemicals. Instead we manage our food growing through trying to support a balanced ecosystem, with a huge diversity of plants and plenty of wild spaces to encourage predators of pests. Our growers have plenty of experience of chemical-free growing methods to support plant growth, including biodynamic preparations, natural ferments and sprays (and our extra team members, such as the industrious chicken, help us out by eating the wire worm!). We’re working towards a closed-loop system on the farm, in future hoping to have livestock to produce fertiliser and to increase our own composting.
We’re contributing to restoring a different food system to that of large-scale chemical agriculture; supporting rich environments for wildlife to thrive, feeding local people, and stopping the spread of chemical deserts. Our members are integral to this: supporting us by cooking with what grows well locally, being understanding if a particular crop is eaten by pests so not available, trusting that we don’t use chemicals (so organic certification is no longer needed by us) and being a part of this movement for change.
“Just like music or painting, farming is an art whose product touches your soul.”
― Miyoshi Nakamura, Natural Agriculture farmer and teacher, Japan