Over the last year, Go Local Food has taken part in the Feeding Body and Soul project run by Walter Lewis, a documentary photographer and researcher. His goal was to create work with an aim of connecting people back to the earth and so in 2015 he spent a year travelling the country, seeking out people who are choosing to produce food in an ethical and sustainable way, outside the confines of mainstream agriculture – working out of a passion for the earth and the Earth rather than commercial gain.
He has documented their stories, building up a picture of alternative food production in England and Wales and has now completed his exploration inspired, and determined to spread word of the quiet revolution under way across the fields of Britain.
The projects he found were often locally focused, often community based, organic or biodynamic in method, small in scale, highly rotational and biodiverse, low in energy use, low in intervention and high in animal welfare. They are everything that factory farming is not, and produce food of quality and seasonality within, or close to, consuming communities.
When he began the project, Walter anticipated finding around 20 farms and working with them to build up a picture of their activities and lifestyle. What he hadn’t counted on was how the list of places to visit quickly grew, to the point of becoming out of control. ‘Everywhere I went, there was advice and directions on others to visit. The disparate fragmented network which I had envisaged was in fact a well populated network, albeit fragile financially and hidden below the radar of everyday living.’ By the end of the project he had been to over 80 operations, made over 200 visits and taken over 7000 photographs to work into an archive, book and exhibitions.
‘There is a wonderful committed level of supply which can work wonders if we can only get it on to people’s radars. It leaves me even more determined to get the work I made out into the open, on show and hopefully sufficiently inspiring to have people change their ways and make use of the local, sustainable and ethical food production resources we have around us. Everyone can do their bit in making this a better planet by choosing to eat respectfully and sustainably. Change can only come from all of us individually choosing to live better lives’
Walter’s blog forms the archive of the project, detailing all the projects that he visited (including Go Local Food). The first public exhibition of work from the Feeding Body and Soul project opened at Dean Clough Galleries in Halifax on 11th February and will run until 23rd April. The book of the project is entitled ‘Unlikely Heroes’ and is available now.
Information taken from the Go Local Food spring newsletter