This institute addresses climate change and global population increases, where the need for sustainable methods of energy and food production is abundantly clear. The challenge is to achieve safe and secure food and energy for all, while taking a long-term view of environmental sustainability and ensuring equity of access.
The great thing is the institute believe vehemently that this is a problem we can solve if we address it now, and get to grips with the soil and environment damage being caused daily (each year 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil are lost to erosion alone).
The institute will conduct basic, translational and transformative research, taking the latest scientific knowledge and applying it in real-world settings, to ensure that the production and consumption of the world’s food is sustainable and resilient. Working in partnership with policymakers, farmers, the agri-food industry, non-governmental organisations and the public, they want to create new solutions to sustain and improve the world’s future food supplies.
The most tangible and absolutely inspirational outcome of this is a trial that took place at a Syrian refugee camp based on research at an urban farm in Attercliffe, where scientists found ways for displaced refugee community farmers to grow plants that would not only feed their families but improve their mental health.
Other aspects of their work is more left field and totally cross-disciplinary, such as Aquakulture which uses music and video to explore the rapidly changing nature of fishing farming, its connection to land and sea food systems, and single-issue environmentalism.
They have also done more traditional research on feeding communities and bridging the gap between food wastage and mouths to feed; addressed ways to restore soils whilst increasing crop yields; and looked into how rice plants can be adapted to be climate ready.