Together with the Royal Agricultural Society of England, Innovation for Agriculture wish to express our condolences to the family and many friends of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) founder Caroline Drummond, who passed away on Monday 23rd May, following a short illness.  She will be greatly missed by many people across the farming industry. 

Caroline’s life’s work was dedicated to promoting responsible farming through the activities of LEAF, including the need to manage land in greater harmony with the natural environment but also with LEAF’s hugely successful annual “Open Farm Sunday” event.  Caroline was a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies and was active in a number of organisations across the industry.

Under Caroline’s leadership LEAF has grown over the past 30 years into a greatly valued organisation that works with farmers, food processors, scientists, environmentalists, and consumers to encourage and create sustainable farming systems, and an organisation that is active in 33 countries worldwide.

Caroline’s vision, drive and communication skills have enabled LEAF to facilitate knowledge transfer and on-farm innovation, by developing the resources to help farmers implement LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM) principles, alongside a global assurance system which recognises sustainably farmed products.  LEAF has also helped build public engagement with farming and their food supply.

Caroline’s achievements within the agricultural industry have been truly outstanding and include in 2003 her being recognised as a ‘Pioneer for Life of the Nation’ by HM The Queen for her contribution to the farming industry. In 2009 she was awarded an MBE for service to agriculture and in 2017 she won the Outstanding Contribution to British Agriculture at the British Farming Awards. In 2018 Caroline won the RASE National Agricultural Award which recognises an outstanding contribution to the advancement of agriculture in the UK. A truly remarkable list.

In March 2022, Caroline participated in the launch of the new RASE report on farm decarbonisation, at the Stoneleigh site, where LEAF has been based since its inception.  The report, titled “Farm of the Future: Journey to Net Zero”, with contributions from over 30 authors including Caroline, covers many aspects of the decarbonisation of the agri-food sector, including the principals behind LEAF’s work and the development of regenerative farming practices that need to be part of future ‘systems change’. 

The industry owes a great debt of gratitude to Caroline Drummond and her leadership of LEAF for over 30 years and her vision for the future of Agriculture is encapsulated in her contribution to the report:

LEAF’s vision is a global farming and food system that delivers climate positive action, builds resilience and diversity, and enriches our food, farms, the environment, and society.   We see this being delivered through more integrated, regenerative, circular approaches to farming. The industry already has many of the building blocks to support such a vision, but scalability, speed and collaboration at a new level is needed. 

Striving for meaningful change needs to be underpinned by science-based targets, new technology and innovation and crucially, working alongside more nature-based solutions.  Peer to peer learning, through channels such as the LEAF Network of Demonstration Farms and world leading Innovation Centres, creating the market pull through LEAF Marque certification, educating and connecting young people and the wider public out on the farm, such as through ‘Open Farm Sunday’ -  all these need to work together to help transform our farming and food systems.  We need ambition, leadership, belief and a practical, ‘can-do’ approach to change, not only looking to achieve Net Carbon Zero, but also to enrich our environment, habitats and nature whilst ensuring profitable businesses and an actively connected society.   Now is the time for change!”

Our thoughts are with Caroline’s friends and Family.