News / Coronavirus Food Alert

UK Nature friendly farmers responding to Covid19 and call for people to support local, seasonal produce

Nature friendly farmers across the UK are urging the public to buy local when they can, during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond. A sustainable food supply chain in the UK has never been more crucial, particularly to help farmers provide healthy and sustainable food, and to protect wildlife and the environment.

credit: NFFN

credit: NFFN

To highlight the importance of sustainable food during a pandemic, the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) is launching a new report, showcasing the extraordinary things that farmers are doing to help their local communities.

From providing veg boxes direct to vulnerable people in the community, to donating their land for community growing and picking, NFFN farmers from all over the country have been sharing their stories of how they’re supporting local communities:

  • David Walston, an arable farmer in Cambridgeshire, England, has set up CoVeg to provide space on his farm for the local community to grow and source vegetables which otherwise may not be available.
  • Jock Gibson, a livestock farmer in Scotland, has partnered up with local businesses to launch a new national delivery service so that vulnerable people don’t need to wait weeks to receive their supermarket orders.
  • Polly Davies, a mixed farmer in Glamorgan, Wales, has nearly doubled her delivery service for nearby villages, prioritising NHS staff and picking up medicines and other essentials for customers self-isolating.
  • Charlie Cole, a goat kid farmer in Northern Ireland, has completely shifted his business model, which used to depend on food markets and a café, to provide a click and collect service for the local community.

Many farm businesses have been forced to adapt overnight to deal with sudden disruptions and increasing demand from local communities. On top of those challenges, farmers are concerned that future trade deals could soon undercut the high standards set up UK farmers.

The farmer-led Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) supports over 1,000 farmers across the UK that are working around the clock to produce nutritious food while delivering benefits for the environment and reversing wildlife decline.

Martin Lines, Chair, Nature Friendly Farming Network commented: The sight of empty supermarket shelves and fears of labour shortages show how much farmers need consumer support. The COVID-19 crisis demonstrates how intrinsically connected farmers are to local economies and the environment. When people buy produce straight from a local and sustainable farmer, they’re also protecting their community and wildlife.”

The network is committed to demonstrating to the wider public what farmers can do for wildlife whilst still delivering plentiful produce. To help protect the sustainable food supply chain for the rest of COVID-19 crisis, farmers from the NFFN have shared the five things the public can do to support them.


  1. Shop local and sustainable. Buy fresh, seasonal and sustainable produce from your local online farm shop or market. Find farmers across the UK delivering locally here.
  2. Work or volunteer on a farm. The UK is facing a potential shortage of 80,000 workers due to COVID-19. If you have the time, find your local farms to help harvest the food for the nation. Here’s a list of organisations that can direct you to the right place.
  3. Join the nature-friendly farming movement for free. We are stronger together. Join the NFFN for free as a public member to stay up to date with how you can support nature-friendly farmers producing food for the nation.
  4. Try not to waste. Over 1/3 of food around the world is thrown away. It’s important not to stockpile food that will go to waste. Make sure you plan your shopping trips carefully, buy only what you need, and use up leftovers. Here’s some top tips from Love Food, Hate Waste.
  5. Celebrate the local farmers doing extraordinary things to produce the food on your plates while protecting nature. When you receive food from a local producer, share your food stories and celebrate it on social media with #NatureFriendlyFood.

Charlie Cole, from Broughgammon Farm, Northern Ireland commented: “Localised supply chains are far more robust and resilient than those of the supermarket that involve importing food from abroad. We should use this opportunity to seek out small, local independent businesses and give them the support they need to survive. A localised economy benefits all, not just the retailer.”

The NFFN welcomes the public money for public goods approach in the Agriculture Bill, with a more sustainable balance between nature and food production. The shift towards a nature friendly approach is not just good for wildlife but is key to the long-term survival of farming, delivering broader benefits to the public.

Martin Lines, Chair, Nature Friendly Farming Network, added: “Productivity and environmental goals are not mutually exclusive but go hand in hand. We need more support from the marketplace and from government to create resilient and local supply chains that guarantee long-term food availability.”

About the NFFN

The Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) is a farmer-led independent organisation, uniting farmers across the UK who are committed to managing their land for wildlife and public goods, at the same time as providing and growing safe, healthy and nutritious food.

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Published 21 Apr 2020

Coronavirus Food Alert: Sustain's work on food resilience in the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.We are helping secure food for vulnerable people and supporting local emergency responses.

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