Changing the future of food and farming

Farewell to Bruce and Anja

This week we sadly bid farewell to two long-serving members of our team – Bruce Pearce and Anja Vieweger – with more than thirty years of service between them!

Dr Bruce Pearce joined Elm Farm Research Centre, as it was then, in 1999 and recently marked the 21st anniversary of joining us. A lot has changed in that time (See our story). He has had many roles, most recently as our Director of Research and Innovation

Bruce Pearce with the ORC Wakelyns Population at NOCC 2016

Bruce reflected that he is most proud of four things:

“Working with Martin Wolfe to get an agroforestry programme off the ground and with the work of great researchers within ORC making it a signature programme where we lead in the UK and are highly thought of across the rest of Europe and the world. 

“The second one is the development and use of cereal populations.  This started as an unsuccessful proposal to the EU.  We persevered and Defra agreed to fund our first project.  We came with the hypothesis that diversity was king, and we had enough science to build on to prove it.  Now 20 years on we have a ‘variety’, the ORC Wakelyns Population (or YQ as it is known more frequently), but also thanks to the work of others in the value chain, notably Kimberly Bell and Hodmedods, there is a market for the flour and products made from it.  The work with the Defra officials resulted in the EU ‘marketing experiment’ where heterogenous materials have been allowed to be marketed within the EU and they now are embedded in the new EU organic regulation.

“I’ve worked on many information platforms that petered out once the initial funding stopped.  Therefore, to see the success and growth of Agricology is so rewarding.  It is taking on a life of its own and seems to be accepted as a robust and trustworthy repository of knowledge and provider of events rivalled by none.

“The other achievement is that where organic farmers and producers have led their non-organic peers have followed. If I look back to 1999 the concern and care for the soil, the use of rotations, crop diversity, legumes and diverse leys were the basis of organic and a rarity with non-organic systems.  We now see so many organic techniques being implemented by many farmers and hopefully soon by all.”

Dr Bruce Pearce

Anja Vieweger joined ORC in 2011 as a researcher, working primarily on horticulture and soils with a major focus on health concepts in organic agriculture. Always passionate about co-innovation and building a sustainable food system for all, she has worked closely with a number of leading organic farmers to develop best practice networks and developed guides on healthy farm systems.

Anja Vieweger

We thank them both for their huge contributions to the Organic Research Centre and to the cause of organic farming and wish them both well for the future.

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