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June 2022 News Round Up

The Government is pushing ahead with proposals to allow unregulated genetic modification of plants, including food crops, in England – and with hopes to do the same for animals.
Peat-based composts will no longer be available for sale to gardeners by 2024, and to the wider horticultural sector by 2028. It is well established that peatlands have significant potential for carbon storage and biodiversity. Perhaps less well known is their ability to mitigate flooding by slowing water loss and that they provide naturally high-quality drinking water.
When it comes to peat-free alternatives, woodchip is the big thing. Preferably woodchip that has been properly composted down for over 18 months. More peat-free ranges are becoming available – Blue Diamond garden centres for example now stock 22 peat-free growing media. A useful list of Soil Association-certified composts can be found on their website. Successful peat-free alternatives include Dalefoot’s potash rich blends of wool and bracken and Fertile Fibre’s coir-based composts. Although having a water footprint and incurring large transportation distances, coir scores well on the Responsible Sourcing Scheme as it is generally a waste product from coconut plantations and can be highly compressed making it lightweight. Whilst strictly not peat- free Moorland Gold’s compost could be seen as recycling peat containing moorland deposits sourced from Pennine filter beds.

The Seed Co-operative have open days planned for this year
Thu 23 June (Members)
Sat 23 July (Public and Members)
Thu 25 August (Public and Members)
Sat 24 September (Members)
Please feel free to come to any of the above, though you are particularly welcome at the Members' Days, which are Thursday 23 June and Saturday 24 September.
There will be lots to see and plenty of interesting information. 
Please let us know if you would like to come by contacting the Seed Cooperative with your chosen date and the names of attendees.

There is a new report out on allotments, their provision, protection and potential improvement. Written by Erica Douglas and available through the website www.woodlands.co.uk
There are 12,107 allotment and community garden sites across Great Britain, making up 135 km2 of land, but within the last 15 years demand for a plot has greatly increased. With a wealth of benefits to personal health, community well-being and to the environment, there is every incentive to encourage their further provision and use, and to keep protecting those that already exist. This report summarises potential areas for improvement and how increasing the number of plots could be implemented.


There are 289 pesticides licenced for use in the UK. If all farming was organic, then pesticide use would be virtually non-existent as Soil Association farmers can only use a limited number of naturally derived pesticide,s like citronella and clove oil, as a last resort. That is why organic farming is so important in tackling our nature crisis – with a third more species,  50% more abundant wildlife and 75% more wild bees on organic farms.

News February 2022

New Website

We are excited to let you know that our new website is now working – take a look at wyog.org.uk and see what you think. There are lots of new sections as well as the familiar ones from before. We will continue to add to it, so please send any news and ideas in and we can put them up.

We now have a section on how you can help WYOG so see if there is anything you can offer to help promote organic growing in West Yorkshire. One area where we are weak is on the our use of social media, so if you are good at using it and could use it to promote WYOG please get in touch.

An exciting invite to a garden and a Passivhaus

In 2017, Sue and Peter Taylor took the decision to build a Passivhaus in their garden in Kirkburton near Huddersfield. Work started in 2018 and they were lucky enough to move in about 18 months later, as it was a few months before the first lockdown. Passivhaus is a German concept aimed at producing housing which minimises energy use.

On Saturday July 9th, at 3.00, Sue and Peter will be holding a garden party in their garden for WYOG and Huddersfield Green Party members. There will also be a chance to look round their Passivhaus. So, if you are interested in the house or simply wish to be sociable, it would be great to see you. Please let them know you are coming by contacting us. If you would like to bring a contribution to the food that would be great but please let us know.

A new organic shop in Bingley

Hedgehog Organics will open soon at 90, Main Street Bingley. We'll be selling certified organic (and trusted local but not certified) fruit and veg and a range of other organic foods including bread.  We'll offer a local delivery service too. A range of cleaning products and toiletries will be available as refills and with reduced packaging.  We'll support local growers, producers and suppliers that we know of and we're always on the lookout for more.  We are organic because we want to see more land converted to organic farming.  Organic soils are brimming with tiny lifeforms that enable plants to get everything they need from the soil, without adding artificial fertilisers and pesticides.  Non organic farming relies on massive inputs of fossil fuel for fertilisers and other chemicals, many of which are imported and costing more and more.  The soils end up lifeless and much less effective as carbon sinks.Why hedgehogs? They are a much loved British mammal that are sadly in decline, particularly in rural areas, where chemical treatment might lead to poisoning, but largely reduces the diversity and abundance of hedgehogs' preferred food of invertebrates. Our friends at Bingley Hedgehog Rescue tell us this is leading to many more cases of sick hedgehogs and reducing populations.  A transition to organic farming could help halt this decline by increasing hedgehog friendly habitats and improving the diversity of their food.Our website, hedgehogorganics.co.uk should go live soon. Watch this space.

Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN)

Potato Cyst nematode (PCN) is a pest which is decimating Scotland’s potato industry and has also affected daffodil bulb growers. The chemical treatments available are limited and harmful of people and soil. Without a solution, it was expected that the seed potato industry would be annihilated in 30 years. The Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS) has picked up on some work undertaken in Holland that showed that creating a chitin rich compost can clear fields of PCN. Chitin comes from shellfish and from Soldier flies. As well as trials on the compost other framers are working on trap crops, where the nematodes hatch and attach themselves to other plants where they cannot complete their lifecycle, and also PCN resistant potato varieties.

For the full article head to www.innovaivefarmers.org and look for the September 2020 news.

Potato Day 2022

potato day copyPotato Day decision
The AGM meeting, held on Saturday 27th November, decided that it would not be possible to run a potato day in February as usual. The uncertain situation with Covid, the loss of some key volunteers at that time for health treatments and the difficulty in working out how to run anything that would attract people and be relatively safe, all contributed to this decision. We are sorry about this as we know many folk have been asking and it is a key part of our social calendar. Following the success of our outdoor event this year we hope to run an outdoor event in the Spring as well as the September show next year, and then be back to the more normal potato day in 2023.  Hopefully you will have time to get some of the more interesting seed potatoes from the specialist suppliers.

The Importance of Soil

The Land Magazine www.thelandmagazine.org.uk has an interesting article in its issue 27 which considers why soil is not seen as interesting or relevant by politicians or people. The UN has reported that a third of all the worlds soils are degraded, yet UK Governments plans to improve the environment (2018 25 year Plan to improve the environment) still have no roads maps, no identifiable milestones.. so no soil health strategy linking the state of our soils with their sustainable management. There is no sense that the Government has any coherent vision for achieving its aims. Last year the Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA) campaigned to get soil health included in the Agriculture Bill as one aspect of what farmers can be paid for because it is a means to delivering other public goods. So a step forward. The article outlines some of the problems faced by different levels of complexity; in a country with 747 different soil types how can policy makers decide what counts as a healthy soil – a task the SSA is on with in an attempt to break down the inertia that exists. Currently the monitoring of soil receives 0.4% of all Defra’s spend on monitoring of air, water and soil. At a time when the UK is losing 2.2 million tonnes of topsoil each year, much of which ends up in water courses as sediment contamination. English Farmers have a one in 200 year chance of being inspected for observance of the Farming Rules for Water. The article also looks at peat loss and the role of peat and soil in carbon storage – 95% of UK land carbon stocks are held in our soils, and 40% of this is stored in peat bogs which are decreasing rapidly.


My Food Community

My Food Community is a Food for Life Get Togethers programme that’s all about championing good food in the community  - food that is good for our climate, nature and for our health.

Perhaps you work for a food based project in your community, or are campaigning to improve the experience of food for people in your area – anyone that is passionate about making a change is who we’d like to see apply.

If you’d like to:

  • Learn and access resources
  • Connect with others who champion good food: in your community and across the UK
  • Develop leadership skills: To take action and lead positive change for good food in your community,

Head to the Get Togethers website to find out more and apply today.

Any problems with the links go via www.fflgettogethers.org  and look for My Food Community.

The Soil Associations ‘Regenerate Now’ report shows the UKs progress towards 2030 climate goals and put regeneration at the heart of the solution. It gives an update on their push for a transition to nature friendly farming and sustainable land use and their work towards healthy and sustainable diets. Find the report at www.soilassociation.org/progressreport 

The Soil Association has also set out its ‘Growing Better Together strategy to 2030’. It has 3 key areas;

  • farming and land us – changing how we work with our land and what we produce;
  • diets and lifestyle – changing how we access food and reduce consumption footprints, supporting healthy and sustainable diets and living for all;
  • connections – changing how we connect with nature and each other. It sets out how they will work in the field and forest with farmers, growers, foresters and businesses.

Their plan to work in kitchens and communities; with caterers and businesses; and everywhere – working across as many sectors as they can to make links and bridges between people and ideas. You can find their full strategy on their web site www.soilassociation.org

Ten Years for Agroecology in Europe

The recent Soil Association magazine has an article on ‘Ten Years for Agroecology in Europe’ which sets out how ti would be possible to provide a sufficient and healthy diet to a growing population using ecological faming – without the use of pesticides. It discusses the current problem of crops commercially available to farmers being specifically designed for high pesticide use aimed at increasing yields and nothing else, This just leads to an increasing need for pesticides, meanwhile pests and diseases quickly develop resistance so new and more potent pesticides are needed. Pesticides have been shown to play a major part in the catastrophic farmland wildlife crash. Removing a single pesticide, like neonicotinoids, doesn’t work as they are simply replaced by another pesticide. The report shows how moving the farming system away from a reliance on pesticides can still provide a sufficient and healthy diet to a growing population, and this year work on a UK model will illustrate how such an approach can also tackle climate change impacts and wildlife decline.


Soil Association Facebook page

The Soil Association Facebook space

The Association is responding to requests from its members to be able to meet and talk with like-minded people, so they have set up a brand new Soil Hub on Facebook, a space for organic enthusiasts, budding gardeners and SA Members and Supporters to come together to swap ideas and help grow the organic movement towards a healthier, safer planet.