Update received from Ali Rees, summer 2018
I would firstly like to thank you for supporting my on-going education. I am due to complete my MA in Sustainable Design at the University of Brighton at the end of 2018.
My studies have been thoroughly rewarding, challenging and exciting! I have expanded my knowledge and skills in the field of sustainable design: specifically, the social and cultural complexities of agriculture and our food systems. I have used the farming community and landscape of Gower (my home), as a case study to critically explore large and small-scale farming practices, and their impacts on the community, the environment and local heritage
Throughout the year I have been developing a sophisticated methodology that I will use to complete my final major project. I have attended several UK-hosted international conferences (most proudly the Extinction and Livestock Conference in Westminster) where I have met with academics from around the world to discuss the future of sustainable farming practices.
While intensive commercial farms can provide year-round availability of produce, the impacts of these practices are damaging in multiple complex ways. These include, for example; poor animal welfare caused by isolated living conditions and excessive use of antibiotics, loss of bio-diversity, farming monocultures, unnecessary food waste, and cultural losses to farming communities.
My current work seeks to identify opportunities for design interventions that can bring improvements to farming practices that provide for the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. I have created a series of design projects that communicate the complex challenges faced by small-scale farmers and the importance of developing alternative approaches to farming to ensure we can support future food systems while maintaining our cultural identity and heritage
After completing my Masters’ degree, I hope to travel to farming communities around the world to identify, develop and share best sustainable farming practices. In turn, this will inform the development of a PhD research proposal that will expand opportunities for design interventions that inform future farming practices in our rapidly developing world.