Unlikely Heroes is a book which aims to both delight and to challenge. It documents the emerging shoots of a new wave of agroecology which are emerging across the country, and in so doing takes us into the lives of those involved whilst asking ‘…..and what are you doing?’
When a food production system is as broke as the one of the western world is, it is no good tinkering around the edges. The current system is destroying the very earth on which we depend and yet, in its drive to cheaper and cheaper food, is producing more and more imbalance between the ‘haves’ and have nots’. A radical new approach is required.
In 2015, photographer and researcher, Walter Lewis, travelled around England and Wales seeking out people who have consciously made a choice to produce food in an ethical and sustainable way. In such cases, production is more often than not 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. It is everything that factory farming is not, and produces food of quality and seasonality within, or close to, consuming communities.
In choosing to grow in this way the practitioners are not opting for an easy way out. The life is demanding, and motivation is often linked to environmental activism, but in making such a choice, these alternative farmers and growers provide the rest of us with a choice as to where we source our daily food. Is it to be ethically sourced or are we to support the fault-bestrewn status quo found in every supermarket?
Unlikely Heroes documents Lewis’ journey around many who are choosing to grow and source their food in more sustainable and ethical ways. It has been put together in the belief that everyone can do their bit in making this a better planet by choosing to eat respectfully and sustainably. Forget the politicians and government, change can only come from all of us individually choosing to live better lives. The stories on this book are the stories of people who have made that choice in a big way, and, in making their produce available to us, invite the rest of us to walk alongside.
With its innovative A4 landscape form, the book presents the story in the form of photographs across almost 80 double page spreads, each focused on a visit to a particular farmer or grower and which follow the course of the seasons. Whilst very much presenting the photographic form, it is much more than a photo-book with illuminating text from Lewis, along with Foreword by author, Colin Tudge, and background essay from Stephen Devlin of New Economics Forum.