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Woolleys’ Lamb receives United Nations ‘Good Food for All’ award

Woolleys’ Lamb has put Norfolk County on the global food sustainability map with a United Nations ‘Good Food for All’ award. Carrie Woolley describes herself as ‘honoured and humbled’ to be among 50 winners from 42 different countries.

Woolleys’ Lamb has put Norfolk County on the global food production map.

“There is lots of opportunity and lots of innovation out there,” said Carrie Woolley, ‘honoured and humbled’ to receive one of 50 United Nations Food Systems Summit ‘Good Food For All’ small and medium-sized business awards. “We are excited to be part of it.”

Winners were selected from nearly 2,000 applications originating in 135 different countries, with the common denominator of ‘inspiring, diverse and impactful solutions improving access to healthy, sustainable food.’

“Small businesses are the hidden heroes of our food systems, managing at least half of our food economies and keeping food on our plates throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2021 Food Systems Summit in a press release. “We must understand the challenges they face and work together to ensure they remain at the heart of efforts to improve the future of food.”

The UN Food Systems Summit was announced by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on World Food Day last October as a part of the Decade of Action. Its aim is to deliver progress through a food systems approach, leveraging the interconnectedness of food systems to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality.

Woolley became aware of the competition via correspondence resulting from an invitation to present to and brainstorm with a Canadian beef producers round table discussion on sustainability in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Details of the UN initiative were included at the bottom of an email.

“Our sheep operation has a pretty unique story,” she said, deciding to ‘give it a shot.’

Woolley applied under the nature-positive production category, one of several identified with contest criteria based on Woolleys’ Lamb’s sustainable, low-impact approach.

In short (for a more detailed view including a descriptive video, visit the website, Woolleys’ Lamb raises sheep in a natural manner, one facet of which is replacing the requirement to mow and maintain orchard grass with four-legged ruminants. Not only does this cut down on machinery and related input costs, a lot of orchard cover plants are able to reach the flowering stage, providing additional environmental benefits. “It creates this huge pollinator habitat.”

Secondly, Woolleys’ Lamb takes advantage of silvopasturing, creating quality grazing opportunities while also promoting selective tree growth and enhancing native diversity and habitat by targetting invasive species.

“It just works out really well,” said Woolley. “You can have goals that are good for both sheep and native wildlife habitat.

“It’s a neat synergy going on there.”

The concept of silvopasture is comparatively new and mixing livestock and woodlots even viewed negatively in some quarters, Woolley pointing to recommendations to the point of funding directed at keeping livestock out of woodlots. Recognition, from the United Nations at that, for the practice, does provide a form of appreciated approbation for the Norfolk County operation.

“Just being open-minded to it,” said Woolley.

In addition to carbon sequestering, the approach greatly reduces fuel and other inputs required for her roughly 2,000-member flock (750 breeding ewes, 1,100 lambs and 50 rams) for example, for bedding, feeding, manure removal and spreading, in a barn-based flock of sheep.

“Ours are very minimal in comparison to other systems,” said Woolley.

Competition winners were selected for contributions to healthier, more sustainable and equitable food for the communities they serve; the strength of their vision for the future; and how well they communicate the current and future impact of their business. Half were youth and nearly half women. Winners came from 42 countries, including from Europe and Central Asia (10); Africa and Middle East (13); East Asia and Pacific (10); South Asia (8); and North and Latin America (9).

Woolley received notice of her company’s selected this summer. One fellow award-winner in particular stood out for her, an African company which developed solar-powered refrigeration units to cut down on food waste in rural communities.

“I thought wow, ‘we’re out of our league,’” she confessed with a laugh.

With that caveat however, and a deep respect for the other award winners, Woolley remains extremely pleased to be included amongst the group.

“We are humbled and honoured to be selected to be among these amazing businesses and people who are making very real change in their communities.” 

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