“Treading lightly on our pastures”

Sometimes in life, and when you are least expecting it, you meet someone who really resonates with you. The moment stops you in your tracks. “Resonance” is perhaps not a strong enough verb for my experiences this week when two such opportunities unexpectedly came my way. The resonance of those moments is so significant, I believe it will change the course of our lives.

Today I had the pleasure of listening to Dr Theo De Jäger, President of the World Farmers’ Organisation. A South African farmer, driven from his original home in Zimbabwe and now farming sub-tropical fruits in the South African Lowveld region. A farmer with a doctorate in Philosophy. A humble and quietly spoken man who considers his every word. When in his company, you hang on every one of those words and wait with anticipation for the next.

He spoke widely about his aspirations for global farming but most importantly he spoke about our global need to “heal the planet” by “treading lightly on our pastures”. His fundamental belief is that we all have the capacity to make a contribution to the needs of our planet. He was addressing an audience of farmers and land-owners and suggested to them that 80% of their energies should be directed towards “healing our soils”.

Earlier in the week, I had the opportunity to visit an immense entrepreneur. His message chimed perfectly with that of Dr Jäger. “Every business matters” and “every business, no matter how large or small has, within its gift, the ability to decide how they will operate”. They don’t need to seek government permission to do the “right” thing and they can make changes to their practices quickly, believing that their actions today will deliver the desired outcomes at some point in the future.

Both of these inspirational leaders demonstrated a faith in the future and a conviction that every landowner ultimately wishes to do “the right thing”.

Our business is small….tiny! I’m under no illusion. However both of these inspiring speakers left me in greater belief of our core values and excited, more than ever, about the goals and aspirations we have for our business. There is a most delicious future for British Flowers.

Dr Jäger finished by asking his audience to sign a pledge. I’m not even certain that the details of his called for pledge have been thought through and agreed. But as a global influencer, he chose his moment and his audience carefully. He struck while his iron wasn’t just hot but was glowing. His pledge will seek landowners of any size to “tread lightly on their pastures”, to rebuild their soils, to begin to heal our planet.

Without access to any kind of official pledge, I’m making my own. We are custodians of 12 acres. Tiny in comparison with many landowners, however we know we are incredibly lucky and we wish to be good custodians of that land whilst we are its guardians.

We pledge to not just look after our soils but to respect it and to take steps to improve it not just as a contribution to our own tiny business but as our contribution to global efforts on climate change and water quality.

This is important. The flowers we use to celebrate so many occasions should not be depleting our valuable resources. Using Dr Jäger’s words I will seek to “grow more, on less, using less”. That is my promise, that is my pledge.

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