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Organic food and farming – Header image (photo)

Organic food and farming

Impact measures

The organically managed land on the farms which Triodos Bank finances could produce the equivalent of 23.6 million meals in 2014, or enough food to provide a sustainable diet for approximately 21,600 people during the year (2013: 21,400).

We finance approximately 31,500 hectares of organic farmland across Europe. This means one football-pitch sized piece of farmland for every 10.1 customers, each one producing enough for 450 meals per year.

Organic food and farming – Impact measures (graphic)

Our vision and activities

Organic food and farming lending

Percentage of our loans to the organic sector

Organic food and farming – 4.7% of our loans to the organic sector (pie chart)
  • 2.8% to organic farming
  • 1.9% to organic food businesses

Organic food lending
by subsector

Organic food lending by subsector (pie chart)

Organic farming lending by subsector

Organic farming lending by subsector (pie chart)
% derived from data at the time of publication

Our vision on organic food and farming

Our relationship with the soil and the earth requires a systemic perspective.

We can no longer afford to keep a world view that thinks of agricultural land as the starting point for a limitless process of extraction. Rather, agriculture needs to be seen within the context of a natural system. This system includes nutrients, water, biodiversity, animal welfare and social conditions.

The impact of farming

We need farmers who can adopt methods that conserve and recycle natural resources. We want to help create a vibrant and diverse agricultural sector with a larger number of smaller farms, more closely connected to local communities and local consumers.

Respecting animal welfare is a fundamental aspect of how we interact with the world around us and a core principle of organic farming.

Organic farming has subscribed itself to safeguarding and respecting nature. As such, having higher animal welfare standards than in conventional farming is one of its major goals.

Respecting animal rights comes out of the belief that we humans have a responsibility as dominating species on this planet. Furthermore, there is the scientific evidence that higher animal welfare standards in organic farming also mean healthier produce for humans (e.g. less antibiotics used). High animal welfare standards mean healthier animals, and positive benefits for people who can enjoy food which doesn’t rely on the use of artificial hormones or antibiotics.

Our priorities

We focus on supporting farmers who demonstrate the benefits of sustainable and organic agricultural principles.

We also want to stimulate the creation of more sustainably farmed land by financing the conversion of land from conventional to organic approaches. We also want to support the healthy development of the wider food sector through financing food producers, distributors, retailers and caterers who demonstrate their commitment to sustainable food and who meet the growing demand for organic food.

Our activities

Organic farming doesn’t use artificial fertilisers and pesticides, recognises the importance of biodiversity and integrates the highest standards of animal welfare.

All of Triodos Bank’s agricultural loans are to farms that are either certified organic, in conversion to organic production or demonstrate a clear alignment with those principles and practices. In addition we lend to retail, wholesale, distribution and catering business who supply organic food, drinks and other products. Through the funds managed by Triodos Investment Management, we also support organic and fair-trade food producers in emerging markets, including the Triodos Organic Growth Fund a long-term private equity ever green fund.

 

Organic agricultural land (hectares) and share of total agricultural land in Europe 2011

Organic agricultural land (hectares) and share of total agricultural land in Europe 2011 (map)

Source: FiBL

Triodos Bank finances 29,771 hectares of organic farm land across Europe – equivalent of around 60% of the total organic farm land area in the Netherlands.

Case study

El Huerto de Lucas (Lucas’ Garden)
 

Organic food and farming – Case study El Huerto de Lucas (Lucas’ Garden) (photo)

The story behind Lucas’ Garden

What was the inspiration behind this project?

Health and the environment are the start and end point of Lucas’ Garden, Madrid’s first 100% eco market.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is a condition that reduces tolerance to a number of substances present in the atmosphere and in daily products such as deodorants, aftershave, soap and even clothes. Pilar Muñoz-Calero, a doctor with MCS and one of the founders of Lucas’ Garden, chairs the Alborada Foundation and is a keen advocate of the eco market. Her own experience has helped her to value the importance of living in a clean environment and using eco-friendly products - from food to personal hygiene products. Her goal was to create an area in the centre of a city like Madrid free from pollution and toxic chemicals where people could buy groceries, dine out and feel good.

Her nephews are also involved in the market; Javier Muñoz-Calero, is a respected chef and active supporter of the eco restaurant in Lucas’ Garden, and Alejandro Muñoz-Calero, is its manager.

What innovation addressed this problem?

Lucas’ Garden is made up of more than 450 square metres dedicated to maintaining health and preserving the environment through food – “the number one medicine.” Each of the market’s stands offers a different type of product which makes responsible consumption easier: from ecological fruit and vegetables, ecological cuts of meat, fish caught through sustainable fishing, cold meats, pulses, ice cream, herbal teas, jam and artisan products to ecological cleaning and natural cosmetic products.

The canteen, which is the centre piece of the market, offers eco dining at affordable prices. Lucas’ Garden also has a waste recycling point for paper, plastic, glass, batteries and spent oil used by restaurateurs and customers alike.

Energy efficiency and sustainable construction are also key to the market’s approach. Energy comes from renewable sources, materials are eco-friendly and the air is filtered.

Lucas’ Garden is also open to other activities that promote health, ecology and personal development such as discussions, workshops and meetings.

What impact has Triodos Bank had on the business?

Lucas’ Garden opened in May 2014. Triodos Bank financed the location, construction work, materials, and refrigeration units among others. It has supported the project from the start thanks to its commitment to initiatives promoting responsible consumption, eco farming and livestock raising, and healthy eating.

During the drafting of this report, Triodos Bank funded the market’s refurbishment to make it easier for customers to shop responsibly under one roof.

What impact has the project had on the sector?

Although eco shops and eco restaurants have existed for some time, Lucas’ Garden is a pioneer, introducing the concept of an eco-market to the sector. The aim is to make eco food more readily available and offer a better quality-price ratio.

What impact has your project had on the community?

The Lucas’ Garden eco supermarket and restaurant is in Chueca, a strategically positioned highly-frequented area in the capital. The project’s impact goes beyond consumers in the area because it also affects producers and distributors of eco products from the field to the table or shopping trolley.

Lucas’ Garden also does considerable work to promote responsible consumption of eco food and other products that help to maintain the environment, promote local economies and protect people’s health.

How does Triodos Bank share the project’s vision?

The project’s sustainable approach was completed by sustainable financing at Triodos Bank. According to Pilar Muñoz-Calero, “Given the project’s values it was only logical that we received finance from an ethical bank to make Lucas’ Garden a reality. Triodos Bank is equally concerned about the environment and people’s health and it understood what the project wanted to achieve from the beginning.”

Methodology

We include 100% of the impact when we co-finance a project. Care farms are only included when their main activity and income is farming, with only an element of care. If it is not possible to pull 100% of the data required, we measure at least 80% of the projects in the portfolio, create an average for this figure and calculate the figure for the remaining 20%.

The Ecological Footprint method, developed by the Global Footprint Network and reported by the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF), has been used to estimate the total number of people that could be fed from the organic land farmed as a result of Triodos Bank finance. This is a theoretical approach that shows the link between the diets that people eat and the farmland that provides their food.

The Ecological Footprint (EF) is a measure of the global hectares (gHa) associated with any resource consuming economic activity. The Global Footprint Network has estimated the EF for many countries. They estimate that for the whole of the EU an average of 1.06gHa of cropland and 0.19gHa of grazing land are required to feed each person for one year from the farmed land, in Europe and beyond. They provide EF estimates for each of the five countries where Triodos Bank finances organic farming. These data have been used to estimate the number of people that could be fed three meals each day from the whole organically farmed area of the farms financed by Triodos Bank in Europe.

The ‘Impact per customer’ calculations used throughout the annual report are made on the basis of the average deposit per customer across its five branches. This is then matched with the same proportion of Triodos Bank’s total impact in a given sector. There were a total of 530,000 customers at the end of 2014. A football pitch is assumed to cover approximately 0.6 hectares.