Patrick Holden is one of the pioneers of the modern sustainable food movement who, during his period as Director of the Soil Association, between 1995 and 2010, played a key role in developing the UK organic market. Closely involved with standards development, Patrick’s extensive engagement with the public through successive media campaigns, played a key role in winning public trust in the products from sustainable agriculture.
Before joining the Soil Association, he was founder and chairman of British Organic Farmers, which developed the production base of the organic food movement before merging with the Soil Association in 1995.
He trained in Biodynamic farming at Emerson College, Sussex, and in 1973 he established what is now the longest established mixed organic dairy holding in Wales. His 135-acre farm, Bwlchywernen Fawr, situated above the village of Llangybi, some five miles to the north of Lampeter, produces an award-winning raw milk cheddar-style cheese from the milk of 75 Ayrshire dairy cows.
In 2010 he steppen down from the Soil Association to address a newly emerging challenge – the need to develop strategies for sustainable food systems. The resulting organisation, the Sustainable Food Trust, is a charitable organisation that strives for a better food and farming system, for both people and planet.
‘We’ve been depleting the balance sheet of nature for a hundred year,’ Patrick once said, adding, ‘Now we have to restore it,’ He is slightly more optimistic about the future these days with a resurgence of public interest in sustainability, which he describes as a ‘new energy’.
Patrick’s work and inspiration have been instrumental in the University of Wales Trinity Saint David establishing Canolfan Tir Glas on its Lampeter Campus, a sustainability and resilience focussed development that will offer new academic provision in food leadership, sustainable food production and rural regeneration as part of the proposed Academy of Contemporary Food Wales.
Since his move to Wales in the 1970’s, Patrick Holden has been an agent of change, dedicating his life to changing the world of farming, for the better. He received his CBE for services to organic farming in 2005 and it is only right that his local university, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, should also have an opportunity to honour him and celebrate his strong leadership and unstinting efforts throughout the years.