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Sowing the seeds to sustain the future of food

To create a zero waste zero miles food system in a sustainable and circular approach delivering environmental, economic and social benefits

Photo of Ailsa Henderson
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Harewood Farming Company

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Harewood Farming company is committed to partnership working with established relationships across a range of sectors. This is a joint approach with Harewood Food and Drink Project that celebrates locally grown produce, producing sustainable and sought-after products in collaboration with local restaurants, breweries, butchers and enterprises such as Deliciously Yorkshire. We work with local education institutions; Harewood House Trust, agricultural and catering college and Universities to engage and inspire all generations to make informed choices about where their food comes from and the impact it has on the world. We have established links with sustainability and closed circle economy groups, Circular Yorkshire, Harewood Energy Company collaborating on projects that contribute to reaching the UKs carbon neutral targets. We work with wildlife conservation organisations such as the Deer Society to sustainably manage our herds for optimum health and harmony with the environment.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United Kingdom

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Harewood is a ward in City of Leeds metropolitan borough, West Yorkshire. Covering villages; Scholes, Barwick-in-Elmet, Harewood 113Km^2

What country is your selected Place located in?

United Kingdom

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Harewood sits in the heart of Yorkshire and is one of the Treasure Houses of England. The House was built in the 18th century and has art collections to rival the finest in Britain. It’s been the home of the Lascelles family since it was built. The Hearewood Estate is owned by David and Diane Lascelles, Earl and Countess of Harewood. Harewood House is now an independent charitable educational trust set up to maintain and develop Harewood, its collections and grounds, for the public benefit. The Harewood Estate is farmed and managed by Harewood Farming Company, a joint venture with local farmers and land managers. The Harewood Food and Drink Company runs a local Cafe, Muddy Boots and delivers unique pop up dining experiences within the grounds of Harewood Estate. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Yorkshire has a unique landscape ranging from wuthering heights of the Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales to the open reaches of the North York Moors down to the eastern low-lying floodplains. Yorkshire is often referred to as “gods own country” and its people are famous for their pride, passion and perseverance. Some say that ‘there’s no such thing as perfection… but if it’s from Yorkshire, it’s pretty close ‘.

Yorkshire has a rich heritage of agriculture and food production, in recent years cities such as Leeds, Sheffield, Malton and York have developed thriving food scenes and offerings which now attract many of the best chefs in the country, drawn by the appeal of working with some fantastic produce. It’s also taken big steps forward in sustainability and innovation. Yorkshire has an aspiration to adopt and employ circular economy techniques to become the first circular county in the UK. The Leeds Climate Commission has set ambitious targets for carbon reduction and is working with big business and the largest emitters to develop a road map to net zero in the coming decades. There is still lots to do but the signs and progress offer great promise.

Harewood is nestled in the Pennine Dales Fringe with low lying hills and fertile soils, a generally tranquil and rural area, with a distinctly ancient character. The Harewood Estate lies in the sweeping landscape designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown, covering over 4000 acres the land is a mix of arable farming, parkland grassland, ancient woodland and wetlands. Much of the landscape is designated Park & Gardens, with two Grade I listed buildings (Harewood Castle and Harewood House) and over 100 Grade II listed features. Harewood Estate is an important and ionic feature of the landscape contributing to the cultural and historical sense of place visited from near and far for recreational and cultural experiences. 

While the Harewood Estate has always looked to protect its history and heritage it’s also always looking to reinvent itself to keep current and stay relevant. In recent years this has seen the adoption of renewable energy schemes, precision farming techniques, and collaboration with the new Harewood Food & Drink business that promotes heritage produce in a modern and contemporary way. The Harewood Farming Company collaborates with Harewood Estate to deliver its mission statement to conserve the Harewood Estate and its existing boundaries, together with the historic buildings, landscape and parkland, in a sustainable manner for future generations through careful and appropriate management, enabling the Estate to realise its potential now, and into the future. In addition, the Harewood House educational charitable Trust aims to promote the study and appreciation of Harewood as a place of historic and cultural interest and natural beauty; to provide facilities for recreation and leisure-time occupations; and to advance the education of the public in the arts and the sciences. 

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Agriculture is the largest land use class in the UK, covering 70% of land, and responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions and is likely to be one of the largest emitters by 2050. More than 95% of the UK carbon stock is held in the soil, 33% of UK soils are thought to be degraded with 1 million hectares at risk of erosion. The UK Committee on Climate Change has assessed the role of land use change in meeting the climate change mitigation objectives, in the UK we need to act locally to deliver a 26-36% reduction in grasslands and rough grazing by 2050, 1.5 million hectares of new woodland  to store carbon by 2050 and 1.2 million hectares for bioenergy crops  by 2050.

The UK population is predicted to increase by nine million by 2050, our local population of Leeds is expected to rise 12% by 2040, the area of land required for settlements is expected to increase from 8% of UK land area to 12% by 2050. Leeds City Council has committed to build 70,000 new homes by 2028, figuring out how to feed all these people while also advancing rural development, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting valuable ecosystems is one of the greatest challenges of our era. If trends in farming practices continue, the available land will not be able to support and maintain the current level of per capita food production as well as higher emissions; Leeds has already been identified as one of the areas with the highest levels of air pollution outside of London.

The new UK Climate Projections 2018 indicates that by 2070, under a high emission scenario, average winter precipitation is projected to increase (35%), whilst average summer rainfall is projected to decrease (47%). The local environment is struggling to cope with existing rainfall, local flooding and flashiness of River Wharfe, has resulted in increased bankside erosion, impacts on riparian habitats and species, increased damage to agricultural soils and increased flood risk for settlements and land downstream. 

Approximately one-third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted. Increasingly people in the region are looking to shop for food with an environmental and sustainable conscience. They want to know where their meat has come from and how it has been kept.

Agriculture contributes significantly to the UK economy, in 2018 agriculture employed almost half a million people, 1.5% of the workforce, who were mainly involved in business ownership or management. Agriculture is important for rural areas with around 15% of registered businesses and 8% of employment across all rural areas.

The UK has left the European Union and the Common Agricultural Policy, a new Agricultural Bill has been proposed that sets out a environmental land management system describing how farmers and land managers will in future be paid for “public goods”; better air and water quality, improved soil health, higher animal welfare standards, public access to the countryside and measures to reduce flooding. This will replace the current subsidy system of Direct Payments; a time of great uncertainty and leaves many agricultural businesses vulnerable; In Yorkshire 56 % of farm business income is from direct payments.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Our vision will protect and enhance natural capital assets for both people and nature, we will be an exemplar of farmland management to retain the agricultural character and benefit biodiversity and the wider environment while maximising the value of food production. We will implement a new approach to farming through Agroforestry, pasture fed livestock, regenerative and precision farming techniques and through integrating wildlife friendly farming interventions.

We will work locally to contribute to national climate change and land use change objectives, we will implement low carbon farming practices, we will improve our soil health through regenerative farming practices, we will develop a system of mixed land use combining these techniques with an agroforestry Agrosilvopastoral systems, the first of its type in the UK. We will increase our woodland cover by up to 12%, and grow bioenergy crops to provide clean and sustainable energy. Our regenerative mixed land use approach will reduce carbon loss and our agroforestry and other woodland creation will increase carbon capture whilst reducing agricultural land use through creating innovative dual-purpose land use.

We will act locally to reduce global food waste through circular economy approaches, we will be resource efficient through minimising waste, reuse materials as much as we can and manage materials at the end of their life to minimise the impact on the environment. Our vision is to facilitate Harewood Food and Drink company to offer zero waste zero food option.

Through our new Agrosilvopastoral approach using regenerative farming techniques we will contribute to tackling local environmental issues; we will reduce soil erosion, the increase in tree cover will intercept overland flow and encourage infiltration and soil water storage in turn alleviating flood risk and significantly increase carbon capture and storage, the increased woodland cover will also contribute to locally improving the air quality, filtering airborne pollutants and fine particulates.

Our vision directly supports almost 20 existing jobs in regenerative farming, livestock management, sustainable energy production, forestry, land management, catering and restaurant jobs such as chefs, managers and waiting staff, through the continued development of our vision we will to work to create new jobs. We will support the local economy, using local suppliers and produces, collaborating with local food and drink enterprises.

We will embrace and adapt the new Environmental Land Management System striving to be an exemplary model of providing public benefits working with the government in a more business-like partnership approach as set out in the new bill. We will engage support the Estates tenant farmers and local network of farmers and land managers to apply similar approaches that works for them disseminating best practice and lessons learned, supporting the rural economy to be resilient to economic and political changes. 

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

We will protect and enhance the areas rich historic environment and sense of place and history and enhance recreation opportunities for people local and further afield. We will develop new opportunities to entertain and educate people around what their food is, where it’s come from, the management choices that are made to create the produce in a way that is as sustainable as possible, and give them the opportunity to try the produce first hand to appreciate the greater taste, health and nutritional benefits that results in. We want to be a model of sustainable food production and catalyse informed change within our region through our visitors.

People will have the opportunity to visit and study a novel future farming’s site. And having visited People will make informed choices about where their food comes from and the impact it has on the world around us. They will feel proud to be supporting local businesses and innovations that are doing the right thing. We’ll be contributing to the Circular Economy in Yorkshire and helping the Leeds Climate Commission move towards its net zero targets. 

Our approach will support a fully functioning and thriving ecosystem with the balance of damaging land management practices starting to be restored. The fertility of the land will be improved via the natural addition of organic matter and improvements to soil structure. Flooding will be minimised due to the deeper-rooted agroforestry trees storing water deeper and for longer. More carbon will be taken from the atmosphere via our planting plans. Flower mixes and fruiting trees will provide new homes for pollinators and reduce pesticide use. The air pollution levels will be improved through our increased tree cover, and reduced miles. The landscape will be more resilient to climate change whilst supporting species that are undergoing shift in range. 

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

While we still may not know the answer to the age-old question, which came first the chicken or the egg, consumers these days are perhaps more interested in a host of other questions about where their food comes from and what impact it has on the world around us. So in 2020 it may be more pertinent to ask “which has the bigger carbon footprint”, “which uses the least water”, “ which is better for bees”, “how many trees do I need to plant to offset the chicken I’ve eaten”, or “which has better health benefits, for me and for the chicken/egg”. Harewood Farming Company and Harewood Food and Drink Project will collaboratively create a zero carbon zero miles food system that delivers a unique experience for people and produce that is truly field to fork. Making opportunities to entertain and educate people around what their food is, where it’s come from, the management choices that are made to create the produce in a way that is as sustainable as possible, and give them the opportunity to try the produce first hand to appreciate the greater taste that results.

We want to be a model of sustainable food production and catalyse informed change within our region through our visitors. Take livestock. We’re told meat is bad for the planet and we must eat less of it. However, we believe that our grass fed, slow growing, heritage and pedigree livestock when carefully managed in the right rotation can help to maximise ecosystem service benefits (e.g. carbon and water storage), create wildlife habitats (e.g. for threatened and declining species) and deliver exceptional taste. Good for you and good for the planet. Will you take our word for it? Well you don’t need to! Come and see and taste it for yourselves by joining one of our safari tours that will take you to see the animals in their environment to learn about the role they play in managing our landscapes and then taste the difference trying the meat in one of our food outlets, all prepared by innovative young chefs.

We will create a locally driven carbon neutral food system that delivers environmental, economic and social outcomes that work in harmony supporting each other. We will work towards achieving a thriving and functioning ecosystem delivering provisions such as increased carbon storage, improved water and air quality and flood alleviation, cultural and recreational opportunities. We will work towards supporting the rural economy through creation of new and supporting existing jobs and developing an agricultural business model that is resilient to economic and political uncertainties and changes. We will achieve this by implementing new and novel farming systems, using the most efficient precision farming techniques, making evidence-based land management changes, embracing new policy, adopting sustainable resource practices to increase productivity, and producing healthy, sustainable and ethical products for consumers.

Agriculture and forestry are traditionally and conventionally treated as separate and distinct practices. We will implement a novel way of farming, Agrosilvopastoral an agroforestry system, which incorporates a mixture of trees, crops and livestock, this will be the first of its type in the UK. Research has demonstrated that agroforestry systems have multiple benefits for people and wildlife through enhancing farm productivity, increasing wildlife, improving soil health and animal welfare, manage water flow and contributing to climate change mitigation.

Our Agrosilvopastoral system will incorporate forest grazing, forest framing, orchard grazing, orchard intercropping, alley cropping, wood pasture. This promotes and enhances the symbiotic relationship and creates 3D farming with trees and crops occupying different levels above ground and also below ground where the tree roots will reach deeper than the crops, with nutrient and chemical synthesis with spatial and temporal sharing of resources such as light, space and nutrients.

The introduction of trees into grazing systems has been shown to improve animal welfare by providing shade and shelter, reducing wind exposure, providing additional nutrients, better ground conditions as well as reinforcing natural behaviours. The trees will reduce overheating and reduction of wind exposure through shade provisions, which reduces energy use and stress and in turn lower feed costs. Trees contain higher levels of micronutrients and have tannins which can help in parasite reduction with livestock being able to self-medicate, which in turn reduces the need for antibiotics and worming. Conventional livestock management practices include the regular use of ivermectin which is used to treat parasite infestations, ivermectin are known to kill dung beetles and aquatic organisms. Our intention is to only use ivermectin if instructed by a vet, we will adopt non-conventional approaches through self-medication and faecal egg counts to reduce or eliminate ivermectin use. The trees will increase water storage deeper in the soils, reducing surface water, that reduces potential of foot rot. The trees also increase the structural diversity of the pasture and allow livestock to seek shelter facilitates more naturalise herd or group activity.

The economic benefits to agroforestry approaches are through enhanced ecosystem services from agroforestry systems, including carbon sequestration, flood mitigation, recreation and visual improvements and reduction in air pollution. The value of agriculture outputs are enhanced by increase in crop yield through reducing wind speed, crop evapotranspiration and soil erosion, healthier and more nutritious meat production and the direct value of multiple products such as fruit, nuts and berries, timber, wood fuel, biofuel and even truffles.

Agroforestry systems can significantly contribute to improving landscape resilience to climate change through carbon sequestration and flood reduction. Fast growing trees can store carbon in woody components estimated between 1.0 to 4.0 tonnes of carbon per ha per year from agroforestry tree densities of between 50–100 trees per ha. The trees will intercept overland flow and encourage infiltration and soil water storage in turn alleviating flood risk.

We will sustainably manage our herds and flocks of rare breed Hebridean sheep, Aberdeen angus and Highland cattle, producing high quality and healthy meat. Our aim is to graze on a low stocking density that allows livestock to browse and selectively graze a wide variety of plants including herbs and flowers as well as grasses which results in a higher vitamin and mineral uptake. Our livestock are all grass or browse fed on species rich pasture, research by Pasture for Life found that Pasture-fed meat and milk has: Lower total fat levels, higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and a lower, more balanced (and healthier) ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids, Significantly higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and vaccenic acid, which can be turned into CLA, higher vitamin and mineral levels Particularly rich in vitamins A and E, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium than meat and dairy from grain-fed animals. Venison is one of the healthier red meats, being significantly lower in fat and higher in protein and iron than the same size serving of beef. We will develop a meat box scheme that offers the local community the opportunity to buy sustainably produced carbon neutral healthy meat. We work with organisations such as the Deer Society to implement best practice livestock management throughout the entire lifecycle, from field to fork.

The Harewood Food and Drink project craft seasonal products & experiences from the Harewood Farming Company, ushering in a new dawn for produce at Harewood, collaborating with a host of experts to bring you the extraordinary, the intriguing and the experimental – blending our age-old Yorkshire roots with some vibrant new school thinking. Expect sustainable and sought-after products and experiences, created with passion to invite and inspire in equal measure. We'll be promoting the best of Yorkshire produce. As cyclical as the seasons and as changeable as the weather. There is no set menu, just hand–picked heritage produce made available as limited edition seasonal specials.

Harewood Food and Drink Company deliver immersive, pop-up dining experiences that have proven a big hit. Some say it’s ambitious, a few thought we were mad, what we do know is that there’s nothing else quite like it. This is fine dining re-imagined. The feedback from diners has been; "Hidden Harewood was such a special experience, Josh Whitehead's food was exceptional but to be able to dine in secret spots on the estate - that was magical." "Congratulations Harewood Food & Drink Project and Josh Whitehead you created an amazing event, the food and drink was incredible and the ambience was so very special, I feel privileged to have been there." "Hidden Harewood is an absolute must for foodies, and offers a unique experience that simply can’t be replicated. This truly is dining redefined."

Anyone like beer? Me too! We grow hops, one of the most northern sites in the UK. Hops make beer, and the heritage UK varieties are in hot demand with micro brewers and beer geeks. We’ve teamed up with the Leeds based Northern Monk brewery to make our beer and tell our story from vine to can. Northern Monk were recently voted Best Brewery in Britain, best beer in Britain and named one of the top 100 breweries in the world!

We believe everything has a second or third or even forth calling in life, take our sheep’s wool for example, once its kept the sheep cosy, it gets used for wool, or it gets used in our mulcher along with other organic waste to make our own compost to enrich our home grown veg or the wool even gets used as protection for newly planted trees.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website


Join the conversation:

Photo of Alice Bischof

Dear Ailsa,

I really like your vision. Local food production is also the centre of our vision, the SuperGardens. I will follow the local food production practices and techniques at the Harewood agroforestry trial as I think that they can usefully inform local production in the SuperGarden as well!

All the best from the Netherlands,

Photo of Ailsa Henderson

Dear Alice
Many thanks for your comments, the SuperGardens project is very innovative. All the best and good luck with your submission and project.

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