Female #FoodHeroes

Caroline Drummond MBE

Caroline has been running the global farming and environmental charity LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) for more than 27 years. They develop and promote more sustainable farming practices through Integrated Farm Management (IFM). They do this by working with farmers, scientists, government, retailers, and the wider food and farming industry. LEAF also works with schools and the education sector to transform how young people view farming and engages with the general public through LEAF Open Farm Sunday across the world.

 

Why do you love your job?

I love my job because I work with so many ‘can-do’ people. They are passionate about practical ways to deliver more sustainable farming and addressing the growing global challenges of climate change in a realistic and achievable way. Together, we are making a difference and that is so rewarding. And of course, my role is so varied it means that I may be out on a farm one day and meeting with government officials the next. What is there not to love?!

How did you get here?

I am not originally from a farming family – my father was a diver –, but I studied agriculture in college and worked on many farms across the globe. Bit by bit, my experience provided me with a pathway that led me to where I am now. Every day I learn something new! It is my personal belief in, and my hope for, a more sustainable future for all that drives me to seek out new ways for the farming and environmental sectors to work together and innovate, in order to deliver meaningful change.

What is your advice for young women wanting to contribute to sustainable food and farming?

Find your passion, believe in it and yourself, and make it happen!

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How does agriculture need to change to be fit for the future?

Agriculture is such an important sector – the role of farming in providing solutions for global future challenges is ever more important – what an exciting time! But we must be strong, bold, and ambitious to create a healthy food and farming sector that is fit for the future.

More than any other time in history, there is a need for farmers across the globe to work together to seek out sustainable solutions. Building on best farming practices like Integrated Farm Management, we need to match traditional methods with modern technology, innovation, and ideas to build business resilience.

This is not about more of the same – this is about really understanding farming’s interaction with the environment and farmers’ role in mitigating climate change and delivering a food system, where nutrition is embedded as a core value. We also need to drive forward a greater awareness of the social importance and impact of farming.

One thing is for certain, we will see more change and LEAF is all about supporting farmers to be ready for future challenges.

What’s one challenge you face as a woman in agriculture and what do you think needs to be done to overcome this?

Women’s role in agriculture is traditional and valuable – there is not one challenge that I face that is different from any man – and indeed there are a growing number of women in senior leadership roles in farming.

Personally, I cannot name one challenge that I have faced as a woman; developments in machinery mean that women are no longer restricted in areas of farming where physical strength was once a barrier. Furthermore, the caring qualities of women add real value to new ways of livestock management, diversifications, environmental enhancement, the list goes on! There are so many women in so many influential roles in agriculture such as research, journalism, the support industry, nutritionists, retailers and this is fast increasing. Women have so many opportunities in this sector, it is an exciting industry to be part of.

 

Caroline is just one of many inspirational women working in agriculture. Visit our Female #FoodHeroes page to hear from other women working to improve plant science and nutrition.