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Exploring careers in sustainable food and farming

Learn more about sustainable food and farming jobs and how to find the right one for you.

Copyright: Alessandro Biascioli | shutterstock

Copyright: Alessandro Biascioli | shutterstock

Roots to Work is the platform for sustainable food jobs run by Sustain. To understand what jobs in this sector look like, it’s important to understand what we mean by sustainable food and farming.

The global food industry is responsible for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions using half of the world’s habitable land for agriculture. Over reliance on industrialised production has led to polluted rivers and seas, loss of natural habitats, and the exploitation of many animals. To counter all that, sustainable food jobs are those that are working towards an agenda that results in a positive impact on the climate, improved working and living environment, enhanced health and welfare for people and animals, and a promotion of equality across the entire system.

What sustainable jobs are there?

Sustainable food jobs can include (but are not limited to) jobs in:

  • Agroecology and sustainable farming
  • Food security and policy
  • Food innovation
  • Food surplus and redistribution
  • Nutrition and public health
  • Supply chain, processing and retail
  • Community food provision
  • Horticulture and gardening including community gardens
  • Sustainable restaurants and cafes
  • Third sector organisations like Sustain that work across the movement

At Roots to Work we champion jobs and organisations that provide sustainable solutions to the climate crisis. You won’t find factory farming jobs on this site!

Watch this video featuring Sustain trustees to see a few different jobs in the sector.

Do I have to study a food-related course to get into sustainable food?

Absolutely not! Whilst there are many relevant degrees such as food science, nutrition, food systems, and agriculture, you can also find jobs relevant to a range of disciplines. Every sustainable food organisation or programme will require core services such as finance, HR, marketing and IT. 

Additionally, specialism like politics or social policy could lead to a career shaping public policy or campaigning for change. A background in journalism or PR could be beneficial for promoting campaigns, developing communications or writing funding bids. This could be straight out of university or transfering your skills from another sector. 

If you haven't gone down the formal education route, don't worry, it is not a requirement for working in the sector. There are many roles that are direct entry as well as apprenticeships in practical area such as gardening or farming. If you have capacity to volunteer in an organisation or project aligned with the work you want to do, that is also a useful way to gain experience. 

Sustainable food jobs are for everyone

Despite producing food for our entire population, the farming industry is the least diverse profession in the UK - with almost 99% of the workforce identifying as white. This can largely be attributed to the structural injustices in access to land built on colonial structures and where most of the land is still inherited.

Despite that, we recognise that food is the one thing that connects and nourishes us all, and to create a fair and equitable food system we need people from all backgrounds to be working across all types of organisations, in all roles and at all levels of decision-making. Without such change we won’t be able to address the structural social injustices that impact many people’s access to healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food.

At Roots to Work, we believe that the sector should be – at a minimum - representative of the UK population. After all, food is the one thing that connects and nourishes us all, and the structural imbalances across food access often interlink with other social injustices. The notion of lived experience is vital in this work. 

This is why we’re committed to racial justice and believe that having a more diverse workforce across all types and sizes of organisations is central to that.

Where can I find sustainable food jobs?

Roots to Work is the place for sustainable food jobs in the UK. New listings are added every week and more employers are regularly joining us to share sustainable job vacancies.

Sign up to the monthly newsletter on the website to find out about latest jobs in sustainable food and farming as well as employability resources and information on careers in the sector.

Or follow us on Instagram where we promote jobs across sustainable food as well as sharing and signposting to information and resources that can support you in your search for a job in sustainable food and farming. 

Follow Roots to Work for job updates at @rootstowork.

Published Monday 30 October 2023

Sustain: Sustain The alliance for better food and farming advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity.

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Sareta coordinates Sustain's diversity outreach work which aims to bring more people from underrepresented backgrounds, with specific focus on ethnic diversity, into the progressive food and farming sector. A core part of this work is outreach with younger people and students to inspire them to get involved in the movement. She manages Sustain’s Roots to Work jobs platform which is also a tool to engage new and diverse talent into the sector.

Sareta Puri
Diversity Outreach Coordinator

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