Please Brexit Through the Gift Shop…

With Brexit looming a few of us are starting to ask the question “What does it all mean anyway!?”. As an agronomist the question for me is “Where’s my dinner coming from, and at what cost to the Earth and my bank balance?”. 2016’s veggie price hikes give a little clue to what happens when Europe stops sending lettuce our way. With there only being a shade over 0.2 acres of British arable land per capita, the answer doesn’t seem to be in growing it here. Currently the British diet costs between 15 and 16 acres per capita, so we’re very short indeed.

Maybe it was misguided information, maybe it was no information at all or maybe it was for reasons outside of my capacity for understanding, but most British farmers voted for us to leave Europe. The consequences of that decision effect every one of us at least 3 times a day. We import twice as much food from Europe as we export to it, and until now that was without restriction or extra taxation. In fact it was a market lubricated with very favourable subsidisation for the British farmer. Labour at harvest time too, was hugely supported by European workers. “They took our jobs”  and thank goodness they did, as it appears that the British didn’t want to pick their own, or pay another pricey Brit worker to do it for them. Bankruptcy now looms for many British fruit producers, which brings us back to the question, how will we feed ourselves?

It is possible to feed a man on 1/3rd of an acre. It involves a vegan diet, biodynamic soil, close attention to the land from loving hands and a certain amount of appeasement of the gods. Even with those fates and figures… even if everyone in the U.K transformed into a barefooted, poncho clad, vegan over night there’s still not enough arable land to feed us. It looks like the super rich are going to need that wealth they’ve been hoarding after all, as someone’s going to be eating the super pricey imports.

But I jest. Let’s not get all doom and gloom about it. I’m sure we’ll still get to eat a little of that roast beef that we’re so named and famed for across the channel. There are enough neatly trimmed lawns, pony paddocks and golf courses to make up a huge chunk of the shortfall. With some extra care via community supported agriculture, community gardens and home grown vegetables this could be our opportunity to have a much needed lifestyle boost. The answer IS there, right outside our own back doors. Maybe now is the time to make lemonade, to Brexit through the gift shop, to pull together and plant our own little patch of Eden.



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