Food Systems Podcast 21
In discussion with Benedikt Bösel Podcast summary
Thursday, Apr 29, 2021
Time to change the paradigm
Farming for Benedikt Bösel is much more than production – it’s about new attitudes, policies and models that put farmers at the centre of solving many of the world’s biggest challenges. Read some of the highlights of his discussion with Robert de Graeff in the Food Systems Podcast.
Your model is called Beyond Farming. What exactly is that?
A belief that we have to see farming not only as primary production, but as the single most effective way of challenging many of the biggest problems we face – climate, biodiversity, health, and also education, rural development, equality.
How does that influence operations on your own farm?
We have incredibly dry, sandy soil. Anything I do has to be with regard to making the ecosystem, the soil, healthy again. I looked all over the world for land use systems, agricultural systems that do that. We want to test and develop all kinds of different forms of regenerative land use model and make that knowledge open-source for farmers.
Will it be replicable?
If it works here, then it can work in other places. I realised for our farm we need to look at the root causes of our problems, and then decide how to change our system in order to change the root causes. This is something you can do on one square metre or 100,000 hectares.
A number of farmers feel trapped by broader systems that they have little control over. How would you change that?
Farmers are stuck in a system designed to make money out of them, keep them in debt, keep them inflexible. We need to change the paradigm to honouring and appreciating what they do for us. We need to invite farmers to be the guardians, the people that we can rely on to change the way we work with nature.
What’s crucial is to have independent global context and location-specific real-life farms where we have real-world testing and implementation of different solutions-oriented methodologies that have a shared belief in land use that looks after the ecosystem – at the same time producing food that is high in nutrients.
What do you hope for from European agricultural policy?
I would love to challenge the scientific community to give independent advice, not financed through third-party money. It has to be about designing an agriculture system that enables a particular farmer in a particular area to do farming that is in line with what we need currently and in the future.
I would wish for politicians to increase their knowledge and drive to understand complex ecosystems and really try to see the potential, including economic potential, in complex ecological functions and systems.
Can you give us one idea or policy that would change things to create a more sustainable food system?
A nice chunk out of the research and development budget for scientists, interdisciplinary professors, entrepreneurs, people from all areas, to have free space for thinking and working on solutions that are not dependent on the size of the market.
If you have found this short summary interesting, there’s lots more to hear in the full 26-minute conversation. It is available now on iTunes, Podbean or Spotify or on this website.
Benedikt Bösel is founder and CEO of Gut&Bösel near Berlin. Benedikt and his team are implementing different forms of...see more regenerative agriculture like syntropic agroforestry, holistic grazing, market gardening and different composting methodologies on his estate that is characterized by extremely low precipitation and sandy soil. The estate also ties in startups and technology to combine both worlds. Benedikt is engaged and sits in various boards of initiatives around the future of land use and rural development. For instance, he sits on the board of Soil Alliance - an association of Regenerative Agriculture as well as is part of the Advisory Board of Digitalisation of Agriculture for the Ministry of Food & Agriculture in Germany.