Selling Apples - with Bill Gates
If people ask me where I work, I sometimes say: where ecology meets economy. That sounds more interesting than "I help to sell fruit". But let's be clear about it: at Nature & More we try to sell as much organic apples and pears as possible. Because the only way to make organic agriculture grow, is too sell more organic apples - and cabbages and mango's and everything else. Employees and farmers must be paid. Working for ideals can be a highly commercial activity! That's not always easy. Therefore, while moving as many boxes into trucks as possible, it's really wonderful to know that in the highest levels of society, people are working towards the same goal in their own fashion -
I'm now referring to Prince Charles and a Welsh farmer named Patrick Holden, who used to be the Chairman of the British Soil Association. Mr Holden, who is known to be a personal friend of Prince Charles, in 2011 founded the Sustainable Food Trust, an internationally oriented organisation that will work to make world food production more sustainable. It will be a big thing. Over the years Charles has become an advocate of organic agriculture ever more openly. Recently he even published a book, where he unfolds his vision. Somehow I find this royal approval very encouraging in my daily work, even though I'm not much of a monarchist.
Big shifts are also happening elsewhere … or maybe not elsewhere. Last Thursday, Bill Gates announced he is committing 200 million dollars to help poor, small farmers, through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. That's great news, because the huge role of 1 billion small farmers in feeding the world has been greatly neglected by neo-liberal policies of the last 20 years. Although Gates is a strong advocate of high-tech solutions, he is bound to experience how organic farming has been successful in helping smallholder farmers in Africa to increase productivity. In his announcements, he is pressing for "score cards" to score the results of aid. If that is realized, I think they will show how commercial GMO is failing where organic practices are succeeding.
Another interesting morsel of news is that two days earlier, another press conference announced that the Gates Foundation is going to work together with the Ford Foundation and six other rather wealthy foundations to invest in agricultural research, in a group called AGree. Interestingly, Mr Holden was present at that news conference, as can be read in the article: "(…) the group was lauded by a person at the news conference who said he was the chief executive of another new international organization called the Sustainable Food Trust. He then went on to suggest AGree should immediately work to define that term 'sustainable.'"
Apparently, the American reporter is not really aware of who Mr Holden is … Bill Gates is known to be an advocate of high-tech solutions, but it would be tempting to guess he has been talking with other influential people who have an interest in feeding the world … wouldn't it be great if Mr Gates started to see the high tech benefits of composting and agricultural biodiversity in organic agriculture?
Ps: this photo was taken in June 2011, when Gates was visiting Windsor Castle to talk about a children's vaccination programme.