Pictured left to right: Lucy Redmore, Technical Coordinator, LEAF; Deborah Whitfield, Consultancy Manager, HIWWT; Leah Mathias-Collins, Environment Manager, Vitacress; Ben Rushbrook, Senior Ecologist, HIWWT.
Vitacress, in partnership with LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) and Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT), will launch Vitacress Farm Excellence, with LEAF Marque certification on World Environment Day on the 5th June.
Vitacress Farm Excellence with LEAF Marque certification is an outcome-based approach to measuring environmental improvements through ecological appraisals and surveys, individually tailored conservation management plans and bespoke LEAF Sustainable Farming Review Reporting with KPIs and action plans for continuous improvement.
The new programme will ensure that Vitacress’ farming techniques across leaf crop, protected growing and aquaculture are taken to the next level in sustainable farming and are ready for the new agricultural and environmental legislative changes that are coming.
Vitacress has a core commitment to sustainability, demonstrated by its value of: “We care: we make decisions for sustainable growth and are determined to leave things better than we found them. Our people care for and endeavour to protect and enhance nature, our growing business, and the communities in which we work.”
LEAF Marque provides assurance and credibility to Vitacress’ sustainability credentials, as part of Vitacress Farm Excellence. LEAF Marque delivers bespoke reporting to give recognition to Vitacress’ inspiring and innovative progress in sustainable farming. LEAF Marque’s expertise in upskilling farmers facilitates the longevity of the project, in addition to enabling an approach that is tailored to each farm.
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT) is the leading conservation body across the two counties. The Trust is proud to partner with Vitacress on the Farm Excellence programme in line with their Wilder strategy to promote sustainable farming and nature’s recovery. Arcadian Ecology and Consulting is a wholly owned subsidiary of HIWWT who have worked with Vitacress Farm Excellence to provide professional ecological and farm advice.
Martin de Retuerto, HIWWT Director of Projects & Services, said “We’ve shared a journey with Vitacress for nearly fifteen years. Through a number of initiatives Vitacress have invested considerably in both research and conservation programmes. The Vitacress Farm Excellence standard is the next step on their journey, raising the bar for others, while providing the opportunity for their business to contribute the recovery of wildlife in the broader landscape.”
Lucy Redmore, Technical Coordinator at LEAF added “Vitacress Farm Excellence is an exemplary demonstration of a company making a firm commitment to the delivery of more sustainable farming, including water, energy and waste management, pollution control, crop health and protection as well as community engagement. We are delighted to be working together as part of this unique collaboration which drives forward a food and farming system that encourages nature and landscapes to thrive and helps farmers adapt to the changing environmental landscape”.
Ahead of the programme launch, HIWWT have worked with Vitacress to produce a baseline ecological audit and the programme partners will work together in 2020 to develop conservation plans for each site based on recommendations from the audit. Over 2020, LEAF will develop bespoke reporting, with KPIs and action plans for continuous improvement, building conservation plans into the wider IFM (Integrated Farm Management) approach.
Leah Mathias-Collins, Vitacress Environment Manager, who pioneered the new programme, commented “This approach will help us to ensure the sustainability of the natural resources on which we depend and play our part in addressing the ecological and climate crisis. The Vitacress scheme is unique in the working partnership between key experts in their fields.”
Vitacress, a RAR Group company, is one of Europe’s leading growers and packers of watercress, leafy salads, fresh herbs and vegetables. It operates in the UK, Portugal, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium. The business cultivates around 686 hectares of land and 12 hectares of glasshouses. Vitacress has a turnover of 123 million euros (109 million pounds) and employs 1,284 people across the Vitacress Salads and Vitacress Herbs businesses.
About RAR Group
The RAR Group, one of Portugal’s leading business groups, comprises a portfolio of diversified businesses in the areas of packaging, food, real estate and services. With a turnover of 758 million euros and 4,712 employees, RAR Group is present in Portugal, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Poland, Spain, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
LEAF is a leading organisation delivering more sustainable food and farming. LEAF works with farmers, the food industry, scientists and consumers to inspire and enable sustainable farming that is prosperous, enriches the environment and engages local communities.
About Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust strives to create a better future for wildlife and wild places in our two counties. With the support of our 25,000 members we’re taking effective action to protect our natural heritage. We’re also part of a UK-wide partnership of 46 Wildlife Trusts; together we are the nation’s most active and influential nature conservation partnership protecting wildlife in every part of the UK. Discover wildlife on your doorstep with your Wildlife Trust by visiting www.hiwwt.org.uk