Lucy Redmore, LEAF Technical Coordinator, reflects on how LEAF is working together with one of its corporate members, Botanicoir, to achieve shared sustainability objectives.
Effective partnerships and collaborations are a driver of change and are necessary to achieve sustainability objectives. This is widely recognised and referenced in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 17, Partnership For the Goals). Partnerships are important at all scales and contexts, but especially so in the complex and often fragmentary agricultural industry.
LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) and Botanicoir are an example of how two organisations can support each other in achieving shared sustainability objectives, despite acting in different contexts and towards different targets.
Botanicoir is a family-run company that manufactures coir products for the commercial horticultural industry. They have been a LEAF Corporate Member since 2014, and in doing so, have supported LEAF’s Vision of a world that is farming, eating, and living more sustainably. As a Corporate Member, LEAF can demonstrate Botanicoir’s commitment to sustainability to the wider agricultural industry, including growers, suppliers, retailers, and researchers.
LEAF and Botanicoir’s partnership is underpinned by a shared commitment to promoting more sustainable environmental management whilst also supporting society. LEAF delivers sustainability through the framework of Integrated Farm Management (IFM), a whole-farm approach that recognises Community Engagement as a key aspect of good farm management. Botanicoir delivers environmental sustainability by providing a more sustainable alternative for substrate. Above and beyond the industry standard, they have strived to enhance the sustainability of the entire production cycle. Coconut husks that are a by-product of the fibre industry are processed in sites with wastewater treatment systems, producing coir that is available in bio-degradable bags. Botanicoir delivers benefits to the local community by providing a safe and equitable work environment, whilst also engaging in various outreach projects such as donating to a local children’s home, improving regional infrastructure, and supporting local temples and religious traditions.
The collaboration and shared principles of LEAF and Botanicoir is complementary to the implementation of IFM and the delivery of more sustainable farming. For example, APS is the UK’s leading supplier of British tomatoes, with five LEAF Marque certified sites across the UK. Each site has different environmental contexts, and as such, different environmental targets and strategies. For example, at APS’s Isle of Wight glasshouse, Botanicoir’s product is an enabling factor towards achieving a ‘closed-loop’ system. Tomatoes are grown in coir and held up by biodegradable string. At the end of the season, plants are shredded along with the string and coir and turned into a high-quality compost. This attention to detail and using resources to their highest efficiency underlie Integrated Farm Management and demonstrate the benefits of having a whole-farm approach.
APS first trialled Botanicoir’s products in 2007, as part of their pathway towards achieving their sustainability objectives. APS’s long-term relationship with Botanicoir and their clear objectives has enabled Botanicoir to research and develop solutions tailored to APS’s context, such as coir cubes for propagation. In addition, APS staff have visited the Botanicoir site in Sri Lanka, which enabled a greater understanding of the production process and development of an effective working relationship.
Achieving more sustainable farming is a collective responsibility involving the entire food chain. Effective, collaborative partnerships help stimulate innovation, harness expertise, and deliver meaningful improvements. Multi-stakeholder partnerships are a powerful catalyst for change, which have the power to drive transformation of the world’s agricultural and food systems.
LEAF is proud to have Botanicoir as a Corporate Member. To find out more about Botanicoir, click here.