There is nothing quite like empty shelves in the supermarket to remind people of the importance of food production. And, as borders close and international freight becomes restricted our underlying dependency on the British countryside is laid bare.
It was no surprise to see food producers on the list of key workers, but the value created by farmers lies far beyond the food on our plates. In these times of self-isolation and social distancing the value of the landscape for our enjoyment, our recreation and for our physical and mental health will be underlined.
Despite the lockdown and closure of many of our social institutions the pub, the theatre, cinemas one of the few remaining freedoms is the ability, with social distancing and keeping it local, to go outside, to exercise, to get away from the confines of our home offices, our screens and at times our kids! To enjoy and reflect upon all that the outside world has to offer and provides us. And whether that is the busy activity of nature in spring or a quiet sunset, it takes us away from what's out of our control and provides us with some much-needed respite.
Farmers are often the overlooked custodians of landscapes, of the natural assets that we take for free and for granted in our usual lives as background scenery to our daily commutes or a weekend walk.
Through creating online marketplaces EnTrade are rewarding some of the wider and often hidden environmental and social value farmers create. Whether that is in clean water provision, habitat creation or carbon sequestration. Paying for these wider services puts them on the same balance sheet as food provision. It affords farmers a choice to manage areas of their farms in ways that enhances nature’s work for society in areas that are less suited for food production, or to do both in tandem.
It's hard to put a price on this intrinsic value, these public goods and to appreciate the fabric of the landscape that is managed for us, but I suspect over the coming months we will all find a growing appreciation for just what is important to us and those who manage it for us.
As an online platform, EnTrade is blessed to be buffered by some of the impacts of coronavirus but we recognise that this is not the case for some of the communities we serve. We will be doing all we can to support in these times of change. Farm engagement events will be replaced by recorded webinars and we are offering digital drop ins to replace face to face meetings. Our marketplaces are open to all and we are always at the end of the phone to assist.