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Food for thought, thought for food

In conversation with DJ turned farmer Andy Cato

Andy is an unrelenting revolutionary. He’s lived a life of shaking up the status quo – first musically with the acclaimed dance music band Groove Armada and now in food production and agriculture with his organisation Wildfarmed. If you want to know how flour can fix our planet, read on.

Andy is unafraid of getting his hands dirty and taking a risk. What started as a personal mission to free himself from dependency on a food production system he didn’t agree with, has grown into an agricultural movement that is working to transform our ecosystems and bring biodiversity back to our land.

We were lucky enough to grab some of his time to ask him about his motivations for putting everything on the line – including selling the rights to his Groove Armada songs – to buy a farm.

Below is the inspirational story of one person’s quest to change how food is produced for generations to come.



“Growing up in the North of England during the miners’ strikes of Thatcher’s Britain made me politically minded. It was a period of transition for the country, and I would be on the marches in a brass band, playing music.

It was the rave and underground dance culture era of free parties in abandoned buildings and fields, and a group of us travelled around the country setting up events for people. The focus was on having a good time, but it felt like more than that. It felt like we were part of a social movement that was different and inclusive, beyond the music.

One evening returning from a gig with my band, I read an article that would change everything. It was about food production and our current system of farming – and I was appalled. I realised that, regardless of your political agenda, if you don’t take control of your food supply, you will always be a slave to a system you don’t like. That was the catalyst.

I could see that the way we use our land is unsustainable, and that done differently, farming has the potential to preserve our soil, store carbon, house diverse wildlife and provide ample, nutritious food. My default setting is pretty cavalier, and once the thought set in, that was it. I was consumed with the idea of finding a way to live outside of the current food system.”

"It felt like we were part of a social movement that was different and inclusive, beyond the music.”



“At first the goal was self-sufficiency. I set about building a greenhouse, vegetable patch and putting up fences. But I soon started to feel a real drive to do more. I fell in love with the processes that sustain all life on earth. The more I understood them, the more I understood that if we didn’t change our relationship to how we produce our food as a society, there would be no future.

I could see a way to change things quite quickly, so that was a big motivating factor. Roughly 70% of the UK is farmland, and that farmland is reengineered twice a year in spring and autumn, so that’s a huge opportunity to change our environment for the better.

My vegetable patch quickly expanded, and I started to sell my produce at local markets. Deep down I knew it wasn’t realistic to become completely self-sufficient like the people I so admired. But I did know that I wanted to dedicate my energy fully to this, make a living of it and do it at scale.

As I became more and more engaged and dedicated to this movement, I stopped being able to see a way to turn back. I was in too deep and needed to make it my life’s work, so I made the insane decision to sell my rights to Groove Armada songs, buy a farm in southwestern France and be all in on this mission.”

“I made the insane decision to sell my rights to Groove Armada songs, buy a farm in southwestern France and be all in on this mission.”



“The early days were hard. The soil from the farm I bought was completely degraded from years of continuous corn growing. I felt like I was at war with nature to produce food, putting up nets to keep pests from my crops, which was the exact opposite of where I wanted to be. After three years, I was close to giving up.

But then I came across a book by Albert Howard, who is considered the godfather of what we now call regenerative farming. He talked about forming a symbiotic relationship with the soil, and wrote that “the appearance of a pest should be regarded as a warning from Mother Earth to put our house in order”.

I’d seen all that in the vegetable patch, but I’d forgotten it in the chaos and panic of the farming business. I was exhausted – and broke. But I was so inspired by that message I knew I had to try Howard’s methods myself, so I started inter-sowing different crops and using animals to build up the soil’s nutrients.

It was the start of this endless loop. Up at 5am for a day of toil, bed, and then repeat. Throwing everything at the farm to try to make it work and then doing weekends in Ibiza, playing music, to bring money back to the farm to spend on cows and equipment and a whole new set of ideas.

I kept going because the hallelujah moments were pure bliss. Short of the birth of my children and getting married, I’ve never experienced such euphoria as when one of my field experiments started to come good.”

“I kept going because the hallelujah moments – when one of my field experiments started to come good – were pure bliss.”



“To turn this from experimentation to a movement, I had to start working on two tracks. There needed to be a public education strand, showing people the environmental issues in modern food production. Because if they didn’t understand the problem, they wouldn’t be interested in the solution. I also needed a farming community who could see that there was a better way to do things that was commercially sound.

That’s how Wildfarmed started. Our flour was formed to create a better market and reward farmers for quality rather than quantity. All of our products are grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, in a system that prioritises soil health, increasing biodiversity, drawing carbon from the atmosphere and producing nutrient-dense food.

The response from farmers has been amazing. I’ve been careful to never tell people what to do and how to operate – I respect people who have worked on the land for generations and are experts in this. But they respect the hard work and risks I’ve taken to try new things and share that knowledge for everyone’s benefit.

I’m lucky to have been able to fall back on making music to keep myself financially afloat so that I could experiment and try things and fail and start again. I also felt very free to try things and innovate. There was no weight of ancestors or legacy of the past peering over my shoulder. If we all share information as a community, we can improve faster.”

“I believe in the sweet spot where we get the food we need without destroying our natural environment.”



“We’ve recently updated the farming protocols for Wildfarmed growers where we’re using new science from around the world alongside the experiences from our community, which have their roots in the indigenous wisdom of growing multiple different plants together. Real consensus is building between organic and conventional ways of growing.

A big part of what we do at Wildfarmed is essentially philanthropic, from public education to spending time with growers who want to try something new. So our focus next is to structure the business to put value on the work we do to protect our natural ecosystem for everyone’s benefit. We need to be remunerated for keeping our land and ecosystem sustainable.

Part of this is beginning to formalise the way we measure the outcomes of our work so we can place an appropriate value to it. We know that all our growers are radically changing biodiversity from the get-go, but we need to place an appropriate value on it. We’re now working with one of Deloitte’s environmental charity partners, the Soil Association, to help us do just that.

My north star is building the road to the high street – food from flourishing ecosystems delivered straight to local shops for everyone. I’m not suggesting that everyone change their way of life, but my ask to people reading this would be, when you see people try to change things for the better – back them."

“Every time we buy food, we shape the future of our planet.”

Thanks for reading


We hope you’re inspired by Andy’s journey from the music stage to the farming fields. You can read more about Wildfarmed on their website, and make sure to check out the work our charity partners at the Soil Association are doing too. Our biggest takeaway? Let’s support the people trying to change things for the better – it’s for the benefit of us all.

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