Argyll, United Kingdom

Farmwel is a think tank and farmer-to-farmer networking and knowledge exchange. Partnering with likeminded organisations, Farmwel advocate policies which enable a transition towards sustainable, and accountable, mainstream agriculture and aquaculture.

The results of the 2016 EU referendum confirmed that a vote for Bexit meant a vote to leave EU agricultural policy. Seeing Brexit as an opportunity to do something exciting and new, ffinlo set up Farmwel — a think tank with the intention of identifying and benchmarking sustainable farming excellence.

At a time when there was a lot of negativity focused towards the Conservative Government, I could see that there was a real need to develop a positive change story and to help people to compromise and work together — and so I founded Farmwel, with the support of sankalpa. By focusing on the opportunities that Brexit had to offer I was listened to by the government and I became a key stakeholder in the new agricultural debate.

ffinlo Costain, director of Farmwel

In 2017 sankalpa funded Farmwel to work alongside FAI Farms to develop 18 goals for sustainable agriculture. From this, Farmwel produced a blueprint for agricultural reform — much of which was integrated by the government, and became central to the UK’s agricultural policy.

With our continued support, Farmwel partnered with FAI Farms and Oxford University to draw large scale attention to ground breaking research into the global warming impact of ruminant methane. The scientists, which included Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) authors, discovered that methane from ruminants is not causing additional global warming. Instead ruminants, when well managed in grass-based systems, can produce food, restore biodiversity and help deliver net zero emissions from agriculture.

"Although livestock produce methane almost constantly, the focus on their emissions is misleading — it's the warming impact of those emissions that actually matters. The Oxford University research presents an opportunity to deliver truly sustainable agriculture, with land managed to deliver a multitude of positive outcomes, including nutritious food, carbon sequestration, and improved biodiversity and soil health."
finlo Costain, Livestock are not the global warming enemy

In 2019 Farmwel began producing the Farm Gate podcast, funded by sankalpa and delivered jointly with FAI Farms. With topics ranging from the ethics of veganism to the impact of climate change on food availability, subscribers to the weekly podcasts tune in to hear stories about the people and solutions that are creating a regenerative future for food and agriculture.

Ffinlo Farmwel 210520

We are part of nature, and as dependent on its cycles and processes as any other living creature. Farmwel’s work is about understanding and advocating practical food production systems that work in harmony with nature, not only for human kind, but for all living things.

ffinlo Costain, director of Farmwel

Meeting ffinlo back in 2015, it was clear that he had the passion and capability to positively impact policy and practice — but he was in need of flexible, long-term, funding if he was to have any success. Working in a stand alone position, ffinlo did not have capacity to spend time applying to various funders. Instead, he needed someone to trust and invest in him. A flexible and trusting approach to funding has allowed ffinlo to focus his time on building partnerships and creating positive systemic changes that have informed and altered the UK’s approach to sustainable agriculture.

Today Farmwel is a government trusted think tank that has been fundamental in supporting the production of good practice guidance for the UK. Farmwel continues to engage politicians and the Farm Gate podcast and ruminant methane project continue to inform sustainable farming excellence through direct advocacy and farmer to farmer networking.

The amount of bureaucracy in the charity sector is often unhelpful and not the way to get things done. Being trapped in a funding loop/ reporting cycle, needing to be able to prove that you have linked every single thing to an outcome, means that you can’t concentrate your time on doing the things that actually matter. sankalpa is different.

sankalpa’s adaptable approach to funding has allowed me to be responsive to political changes and focus on doing work that matters as opposed to trying to create outcomes that fit around a prescriptive funder’s model.

ffinlo Costain, director of Farmwel

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