21st century pioneers - grassroots innovation for sustainable agriculture

26 July 2013

The Soil Association is launching a new Innovation Award to champion excellence in innovative approaches to sustainable, low impact farming and growing. The winner will receive a cash prize of £3000, with two runner-up prizes of £1000 each. Entries are open until 16th August 2013. 

The Innovation Award in association with Nesta, the Innovation Foundation, celebrates outstanding innovators in farming and growing across the UK. It recognises the achievement of individuals, teams, companies or organisations that are:
- Pioneering practical new approaches to farming and growing
- Achieving real benefits for people, the planet or animal welfare
- Promoting sustainable agriculture in line with organic principles

The award is open to anyone doing these things including; producers, community groups, scientists, IT developers, farming consultants, designers and engineers.

Shortlisted entries will be invited to the Soil Association Annual Conference in October, to pitch their approach to some of the most influential people in the field of sustainable agriculture today. These 400 delegates will cast their votes and, there and then, decide who wins the Innovation Award.

Speaking about the award, Dr Tom MacMillan, Innovation Director at the Soil Association, said: “We often confuse science and innovation: what world-changing ideas have in common isn’t that they come out of a research institute, though some do, but that they work on the ground. This award recognises the power of practical innovation in food and farming, and celebrates the ingenuity, vision and dogged persistence of the people from all walks of life who make it happen. If you’re one of them, or you know someone who is, we want to hear from you.”

Innovation is at the heart of the work of the Soil Association. The Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme, delivered by the Soil Association, aims to boost innovation in organic and other low-input farming systems to deliver improved productivity and give environmental benefits. A few months ago, research funds were awarded to four projects focused on low-cost sustainable solutions, and the researchers are currently working with farmers and growers, giving them a real say in the research that is done in their name.

More details on the Innovation Award and how to enter can be found here
The Soil Association's
Annual Conference takes place on the 9 - 10 October at Central Hall, London 


For more information
Sally Morgan, Producer Communications Manager, Soil Association smorgan@soilassociation.org

Notes to Editor

About the Soil Association
The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by farmers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists to promote the connection between the health of the soil, food, animals, people and the environment. Today the Soil Association is the UK's leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use. To find out more visit www.soilassociation.org

About Nesta
Nesta is an independent charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. It provides investments and grants and mobilising research, networks and skills. Nesta doesn’t work alone. It relies on the strength of the partnerships formed with other innovators, community organisations, educators and investors too.

About the Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme
The Duchy Originals Future Farming programme supports innovation in sustainable agriculture. The programme helps British farmers identify and adopt practices that improve their productivity in an environmentally responsible way. It involves farmers across the country in developing innovative techniques aimed at improving yields and nutritional performance in organic and low-input agriculture. At the heart of this activity is a network of on-farm events, led by farmers and growers, where they can share their know-how, design field experiments and pinpoint practical challenges. These will shape the priorities for a new research fund, which targets key barriers to sustainable farming and food systems. The programme focuses on ecological farming, especially approaches that reduce farmers’ reliance on expensive inputs. It will therefore be particularly relevant to producers who farm to organic standards, yet open to all. The programme is funded by the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation and will be delivered by the Soil Association in partnership with Duchy Originals from Waitrose and the Organic Research Centre.

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