Jyoti Fernandes (below) has run a 23-acre agroecology smallholding at Fivepenny Farm (www.fivepennycatering.com) in the Dorset hills since 2003. She’s a trustee of the Land Workers’ Alliance, with a focus on bringing more people into farming, via small and family farms. The average age of British farmers is 59 and only 3% are under 35 years old, but farming itself is unsustainable without new farmers moving in. ‘What the pandemic has shown us,’ she says, ‘is that small, local farm businesses can adapt faster than the big guys. For them, it’s all or nothing, but our members aren’t only helping the environment, they’re improving local access to affordable food.’ The Alliance runs a programme called Farmstart (www.kindling.org.uk/farmstart), which helps young, motivated people without capital or connections get a start in farming on a small scale.
Small is beautiful: David Saltmarsh, husband of Jyoti Fernandes, with Oxford Sandy and Black pigs on the couple’s 23-acre Dorset farm