Peter Barfoot receives his CBE for Services to Sustainable Farming
Our founder Peter Barfoot recently received his CBE for Services to Sustainable Farming. Peter was awarded the highest-ranking Order of the British Empire in the 2020 New Year Honours, with the ceremony initially due to take place in April 2020.
The timing of the rescheduled ceremony couldn’t be more pertinent as the world’s attention moves to COP26 and the climate crisis.
The food system is estimated to contribute a 3rd of global greenhouse gas emissions, and agriculture is the biggest contributor within it*. Whilst there is now a great deal of innovation within the UK agriculture sector, Barfoots was one of the early pioneers of sustainable techniques.
A 5th generation farmer from humble beginnings, Peter’s mantra has been, and continues to be, the driving force within the business …”Look after the land like you are going to farm forever”.
Key sustainability initiatives in Barfoots’ history include:
- Working with LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) on best in class practices and becoming a demonstration farm in the 1990s.
- Implementing an Anaerobic Digestion plant in 2010, taking all vegetable waste and converting it to electricity enabling the business to become carbon negative in its operation facility. The plant also makes fertiliser used to grow Barfoots’ crops.
- Investing in a network of reservoirs to store and reuse surface water for when it’s most needed.
- Working with charities UKHarvest and FareShare to reduce waste and redistribute out of spec vegetables to those in need. Barfoots recently passing the milestone of 1,000,000 meals donated through FareShare.
- Establishing a Plant Conservation Centre in Peru in collaboration with Kew Botanic Gardens that has conserved and produced more than 250,000 native trees.
- Investment in the social and economic development of the Senegalese communities where Barfoots farm.
- Continuous improvement of the carbon footprint of the supply chain system for Barfoots’ overseas produce, including sea freighting of all imports to the UK.
Peter was delighted to receive his award at long last “It was a great day, well worth waiting for, the whole experience was amazing, and best of all, as you can see from the photographs I made her laugh!”.
He provides timely sage advice in the context of current debates on how the food system can be improved for the future of our planet “My first rule of sustainability is profitability, without being profitable as a farmer your business will not be sustainable for very long.”
Barfoots continue to look forward and improve its processes so as to become more sustainable, including:
- The building of a water treatment plant that will clean all factory waste water to be reused for irrigation.
- Working closely with LEAF on regenerative farming in vegetable production as part of their Beacons of Excellence programme.
- Embracing Carbon Sequestration and new ways of farming.
- New low carbon technologies and other low impact ways of working.
* National Food Strategy, An Independent Review for Government, 2021, https://www.nationalfoodstrategy.org/