Was King Charles ahead of the curve when it came to sustainability and the natural world?

Charles at a Farm in Derbyshire – Image by smileykt

With the advent of his kingship we decided to have a look at what Charles has done and the sustainable food legacy that he leaves for the future.

King of the soil

As a teenager King Charles had strong views on the environment, from society’s increasing disconnect from the land to the overuse of chemicals and destruction of the small farm [to make way for big industrial farming] and he began to promote and campaign for better systems and practices for food and farming, despite often being ridiculed for talking to plants and trees and his ideas on organic farming. Passionate about gardens he took a hands-on approach to designing, landscaping and planting the gardens at Windsor, Balmoral and Sandringham. He visited Riverford Organic before converting the 900 acres at Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire to organic farming in 1986. (We enjoyed Riverford’s founder, Guy Singh-Watson’s take on the new King).

Charles at a Farm in Derbyshire – Image by smileykt

King of communication

He joined the dots before most people even knew about organic food, before sustainability was top of the agenda.  Alongside a handful of other fellow adopters including Patrick Holden, campaigner for sustainable farming and co-founder of the Sustainable Food Trust, he helped to build awareness around organic farming, environmental pollution, the importance of small scale farming and respect for the landscape. Patrick called him ‘the world’s greatest convener’, using his position to start conversations and connections about needing a more holistic approach. His organic conversion and work in Gloucestershire meant, ‘the Highgrove Farm and gardens became a place of pilgrimage… a ‘seeing is believing’ experience’ for visitors.

King of a sustainable future for food?

King Charles was certainly ahead of his time alongside a few other pioneers of organic farming and holistic thinking, while the rest of us thought he was a little balmy and eccentric. He may be passing the environment baton onto Prince William but we certainly hope he will continue to put food sustainability at the forefront during his reign.

Stefan Gates, host of the Food Matters Live podcast, recently discussed How King Charles “moved the dial” on sustainable farming. You can listen in full here.

On the subject of eating better for the future, you can find our more about our upcoming classes including, Eating deliciously for a healthy gutAll day veganThe ultimate vegetarian and Waste matters.


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