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The Prince of Wales's Charitable Foundation supports new farming initiative

Published on 23rd April 2012

The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation (PCF) today announced initial funding of £200,000 for a pioneering new project to help British farmers improve their productivity in an environmentally responsible way.

The Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme will be delivered by the Soil Association, the UK’s leading organic food and farming charity, in partnership with Duchy Originals from Waitrose, The Prince of Wales’s organic food business.

The new Programme will involve farmers across the country in developing innovative techniques aimed at improving yields and nutritional performance in organic and low-input agriculture. At its heart will be a network of on-farm events, led by farmers and growers, where they can share their know-how, work with scientists to design field experiments, and pinpoint practical challenges. These will shape the priorities for a new research fund, which will target key barriers to sustainable farming and food systems.

One of the main aims of the Programme will be to help farmers make the best use of renewable resources and sustainable management techniques in order to build soil fertility and control pests and diseases.

The Programme will focus 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 money for the new Programme will come from the profits of Duchy Originals from Waitrose, which are donated every year to charity. This year, record sales of Duchy Originals products means more than £2 million will be distributed to charitable causes and related initiatives.

The Soil Association’s Dr Tom MacMillan, who will direct the Programme, says: “The stark challenges facing food and farming – rapid environmental change, the increasing costs of oil and other agricultural inputs, the need to provide better nutrition for more people - mean we must work together, as a farming community, to try and develop the best, most sustainable practices.”

Helen Browning, Chief Executive of the Soil Association adds: “We are thrilled to be working with Duchy Originals on this important programme. By allying scientific excellence with practical farming experience we believe it will deliver real benefits on the ground. The programme will be developed to share best practice and target research at the sustainability challenges that matter most to farmers; working with Duchy Originals from Waitrose aligns this with a powerful brand that has organic values at its core.”

Mark Price, Waitrose Managing Director, says: “Waitrose is especially proud to be involved with the Duchy Future Farming Programme as it complements other areas of agricultural work we are supporting. This is a timely programme that is set to deliver real benefits on farm, exactly what good research should do.”

Notes to Editors

Farming is one of the most important ways people affect the planet and human livelihoods. It accounts for about 70 per cent of fresh water use in a world where scarce water exacts a heavy human toll, it is a major driver of declines in wildlife and biodiversity, and it produces enormous emissions of greenhouse gases. Also, around a third of the global population experiences ill-health through a poor diet, whether through hunger or over-consumption.

Clearly, there is a need to find ways of farming and producing food that are more sustainable and have a better impact on the natural environment. This requires innovation and research.

This programme learns from the best examples of participatory research around the world to promote a people- and planet-friendly approach to farming in the UK.

Duchy Originals Duchy Originals was founded by The Prince of Wales in 1990 with an aim that every product “is good, does good and tastes good”. Following the signing of a licensing and distribution agreement with Waitrose, the Duchy Originals from Waitrose brand launched in Waitrose stores in September 2010. Duchy Originals and Waitrose believe in the value of organic food, grown and produced sustainably. A donation from the sale of all Duchy Originals from Waitrose products is given to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, a grant giving charity, and to the Countryside Fund, which supports Britain’s hard-pressed rural communities.

The Soil Association The Soil Association is the UK's leading membership charity promoting healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use. The organisation engages directly with thousands of farmers and food businesses, providing technical guidance and, through its trading subsidiary, inspecting them to organic standards. The Soil Association’s lead research partner in the programme will be the Organic Research Centre (ORC). Based at Elm Farm near Newbury, ORC is an independent research centre dedicated to the development of sustainable food systems based on organic/agro-ecological principles.

The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation was established by The Prince of Wales in 1979. The Foundation operates primarily as a grant-making trust and aims to use income raised from its trading subsidiaries to support charitable causes and make a strategic impact for good.

The Foundation has funded initiatives in the following diverse areas: International Sustainability; Education and Young People; The Built Environment; Responsible Business; Conservation; Armed Forces Welfare; Emergency Relief and Community Projects.