Growing Crops for Human Consumption
For many livestock farmers looking to change direction, the first option explored is whether they can grow crops for human consumption. In some cases, such as the very successful Stewarts of Tayside, the switch from sheep and cattle to soft fruits and vegetable cash-crops financed the purchase of the farm, leading them to become the largest independent soft fruit grower in Scotland.
For many farmers, though, the challenge will be the type of land they have. Seventy-seven percent of Scottish agricultural land is deemed rough grazing or permanent pasture and, as such, traditionally unsuitable for cropping (in our case studies you’ll meet some innovative growers who have beaten this challenge).
Only 9% of Scotland’s agricultural land is currently cropped. However, half of this cropland is used to grow animal feed including over fifty percent of the cereals we grow and more than half of the veggies. So, there is considerable room for change there.
It’s not just about fruit and veggies, but about expanding the potential of some of the other crops that we already grow – such as wheat and oats; and resurrecting some of the oldies – such as hemp -in order to cash in on expanding markets.
Currently, the UK imports around fifty percent of the food we eat including more than ninety percent of our fruits and vegetables. A 2019, UK-based study from Harvard Law School showed that if we use all current UK cropland to grow crops for human consumption then we can more than provide for the calorific, protein and nutrient needs of every person in the UK.
With our departure from the European Union, increasing our food self-sufficiency and food security are important and exciting goals. Our case-studies highlight pioneer growers who take us closer to these goals by creating new opportunities for healthy, efficient, and profitable food production.
- Gina Bates, Highland VeganicsGina Bates, Highland Veganics Bordering on the banks of the beautiful Oykel River, in the heart of Sutherland’s sheep country, Gina Bates is creating the first plant-protein croft in the …
- From Beef and Dairy to Veganic CerealsAn interview with Laurence Candy of Northwood Farm “I can honestly say, it’s time I should stop keeping animals. Having seen life taken away, it’s not healthy for me to …
- The Artisan GrowerRobert Sullivan of The Artisan Grower Michelle and Robert Sullivan and family had no experience in growing when they decided to rent one acre of farmland near Insch, Aberdeenshire. In …
- Zonnegoed, Joost van StrienFor roughly 25 years now, Joost van Strien has run his 90-hectare vegetable farm, Zonnegoed, organically and just last year he took it a step further, obtaining the Biocyclic Vegan Standard. Farming by this standard means that Joost manages Zonnegoed without any animal-based inputs (e.g. manure and slaughterhouse waste products), nor with any synthetic fertilisers or agrichemicals.
- Bio-FarmlandUpon moving to Romania in 2004, Christian Hani and his family established Bio-Farmland, an 800-hectare family farm that specialises in growing several different cereal varieties. At the start of 2021, Bio-Farmland became certified with the Biocyclic Vegan Standard, making them one of only a few cereal farms in the world right now to be run using stock-free/veganic methods.
- Growing Crops For Human Consumption-essay