"On the Isle of Wight Hollie Fallick and Francesca Cooper are part of a movement to bring tired and depleted soil back to life – and boost food security".
"Hollie Fallick looks over Brading on the Isle of Wight, at a patchwork of fields bordered by ancient oaks, which stretches to the Solent. “We still have to pinch ourselves every day,” says the 30-year-old, as she surveys the 50 hectares (125 acres) she farms with her best friend, Francesca Cooper, 34.
The friends – who have five young children between them, were both vegan for a period, and are lifelong environmental activists – are not typical livestock farmers. And they don’t practise typical farming: instead they are part of a growing global movement practising regenerative agriculture – or regen ag for short.
“Really simply, regenerative agriculture is nature-friendly farming,” says Fallick, who says she stopped being vegan when her health suffered. “It’s thinking about the health of soil, animals, humans and how they all link together.”
On Nunwell home farm, which sits alongside land the pair manage for the Wildlife Trust and produces meat and eggs for their direct-to-consumer business, chickens peck away alongside belted Galloway cows, nomadic pigs graze on grass as well as kale and bean “cover crops” sown to boost nutrients in the soil.
The idea is that by following the basic principles of regen ag – not disturbing the soil, keeping it covered, maintaining living roots, growing a diverse range of crops and the use of grazing animals – they can regenerate tired and depleted soil and produce nutritious food. The work, they argue, is urgent. Up to 40% of the world’s land is now degraded by industrial and harmful farming methods, according to the UN, while a recent study suggested improving soil could keep the world within the 1.5C heating target."