In this instalment, we speak with Greg Pilley, managing director of Stroud Brewery, to find out more about why he supports organic and what it means to his business.
What started your journey as an organic business?
With a degree in ecology and a background working in the Soil Association’s local food team, I had a lot of passion and experience related to the organic movement. I also had a long-standing interest in beer!
When starting my own drinks business, of course there was no question that I wanted to use organic ingredients as the basis of our products. Stroud Brewery was established in 2006 and just two months later, our first brew, Budding, (which is both organic and vegan) was awarded Champion Beer of Gloucestershire at the Cotswold Beer Festival.
Why is it important to you that your products are organic?
Organic farms are havens for wildlife and provide homes for bees, birds and butterflies. On average, plant, insect and bird life is 50% more abundant on organic farms. What’s more, organic farming really can help to mitigate climate change! For example, if Europe’s farmland all followed organic principles, agricultural emissions could drop by 40-50% by 2050, with plenty to feed the growing population healthy diets.
As well as the clear biodiversity and carbon reducing benefits, I feel that businesses with the conscience to choose organic ingredients also put value in their trading relationships – it’s an all-round kinder form of business.
What do you see in the future of organic?
It’s clear that people are having an adverse impact on the planet – we have to do things differently and choose to work with nature's life support systems. Organic farming is a big part of this as it works with nature, rather than against it.
For me, organic has to be part of our future food production and any ‘Green New Deal’ plan that would aim to tackle climate breakdown while creating a fair society. The organic movement can provide meaningful work at no cost to the planet.
How can we make organic more accessible to a wide range of people?
One of the key points here is that we have to improve the status of food and give it its true value. The coronavirus pandemic has had some effect on people in forcing them to think more about where their food comes from – but we need to go further.
Similarly, we must improve understanding and perceptions of organic food. It is actually progressive and not a ‘backwards step’. Whilst organic agriculture is a return to more traditional forms of farming in many ways, this doesn’t mean it’s old fashioned.
We also need to continue to lobby for policy that recognises the external values of organic food with appropriate incentives and support. Having less nitrate in rivers, better health and improved farm biodiversity are all consequences of organic production that should be appropriately encouraged and rewarded.
Why we finance organic food and farming
Organic agriculture recognises the relationship between our environment, our health and the food we eat. Find out more about why Triodos Bank supports organic.