The GREAT Project (https://www.fwagsw.org.uk/the-great-project) is putting Gloucestershire in the vanguard of the transition to regenerative agriculture.
GREAT stands for Gloucestershire Regenerative Environment and Agriculture Transition. It’s a three-year project, funded by Thirty Percy, to boost the transition to farming methods that restore the soil, water and air. We want to join the dots between farmers, advisors, growers, mentors and their communities to facilitate this change that is so sorely needed for a resilient future for farms, nature and the earth.
We have three core aims: build evidence, facilitate knowledge exchange, and nurture enterprise.
About this project
The GREAT Zerodig Project is an innovative plan to launch and develop a training / mentoring pathway for new entrants to the agricultural sector, with a focus on horticulture and sustainable food production. We will engage young people to explore alternatives to conventional farming by growing food through the 'Zerodig' method on an previously conventionally farmed arable field adjacent to the Royal Agricultural University in Gloucestershire.
Jenny Phelps MBE said "We are delighted to be able to support the RAU in helping the next generation of farmers learn how to grow food with nature" (Senior Farm Conservation Adviser at Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group / Lecturer Royal Agricultural University).
This growing process involves layering woodchip and compost to create growing areas for horticulture, along with a series of experimental plots to test a range of crops which improve soil biodiversity and structure. Enhancing soils will enable a host of wildlife to recover, from underground fungi to diverse insects, farmland birds currently in steep decline, and iconic British mammals such as the hedgehog. The young people who deliver these outcomes through our GREAT Zerodig project will redefine agriculture from a cause of ecosystem decline to its solution.
We have secured a lease of a 7.5 acre field at the Royal Agricultural University. Securing this lease has been the outcome of a significant planning process, to generate a detailed site map with measurements for the various site components such as growing beds, access tracks and other infrastructure. Our planning process has culminated in a detailed feasibility study with full costings, to make a case to key partners such as the Royal Agricultural University for obtaining the necessary permissions and securing lease of the land required for our GREAT Zerodig project. With a lease for the field now confirmed, the next phase is to set-up the Zerodig site on the ground, from its infrastructure of polytunnels and irrigation systems to the growing beds and experimental plots we will use to generate produce. This set-up and development phase has a total cost of £80,000, to cover staffing expenditure and purchase of the necessary equipment to enable our GREAT Zerodig project to operate at scale. This cost is itemised in a detailed budget and project plan that we can make available upon request.
Join us in championing regenerative agriculture through the GREAT Zerodig Project. Your generous donation directly supports our dedicated staff, engages aspiring students, and secures essential equipment. Together, let's cultivate a thriving community committed to regenerative farming practices. Your contribution makes a lasting impact—donate today.
Rewards on offer
We can offer vegetable shares, for a range of high quality horticultural produce grown locally, once the Zerodig growing method is fully established.
Prior to this stage in the project however, we can also offer a range of team-building and information sharing opportunities, from hedge planting and dry stone wall restoration to Zerodig tours of our new College field site, the original Zerodig operation in close proximity to Stroud, south Gloucestershire, and visits to working farms which have successfully integrated this growing approach.
Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG): a registered charity representing farmers in the delivery of wildlife conservation. Our GREAT project – boosting the transition to regenerative farming methods throughout Gloucestershire – will deliver this Zerodig operation.
Royal Agricultural University: at the forefront of agricultural education, the RAU is a key partner for this innovative GREAT Zerodig project and its aim of engaging a wide, diverse audience in regenerative agriculture.
Zerodig Earth: a no-dig agricultural project, supporting new farmers to launch sustainable, zero-carbon businesses, with two well-established Zerodig operations operating throughout Gloucestershire.
FarmEd: a not-for-profit organisation based at Honeydale Farm, a diverse 107-acre mixed farm in the Cotswolds and championing regenerative agriculture, farming with nature and great food.
The zerodig model is gaining popularity and momentum, as an effective and productive way to grow food in regenerative way. There are many small micro farms producing food for local shops, cafes, restaurants and vegetable box schemes, using the zerodig model.
Our partnership with the Royal Agricultural University presents a significant opportunity for integration of practical agroecological learning into the curriculum. Students and new entrants into Agriculture can learn about soil biology and plant growth via the Zerodig model. They can learn about cropping plans, rotational growing, compost-making, seed sowing methods and plant production without agricultural chemicals. They can learn natural pest control methods, harvesting techniques, produce presentation and storage. They can learn about site management, irrigation systems and health and safety.
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Website: Zerodig | The GREAT Project (greatglos.co.uk)