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From campus to crop fields: regenerative agriculture project launched in Mount Darwin, Zimbabwe

Environment Programme / Partner story

Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels

Mount Darwin is a town in northern Zimbabwe. Known for agriculture and gold and asbestos mining, the town is named after the nearby Mount Darwin, which rises 1,509 metres above sea level.

When Hugo Winkfield, a 2023 graduate of the University of Exeter, took on a work placement opportunity in the town recently, he had no idea what to expect, but threw himself into learning. He did his placement with the Agricultural Research Trust, a not-for-profit organisation that functions as a research and demonstration farm, while providing Zimbabwean farmers with machinery and best practices for sustainable farming.

“I knew nothing about farming before I started the placement – I hardly knew what a plough did,” says Hugo. “I really committed myself and I learned a huge amount about how to farm arable crops, from the top farmers and researchers in Zimbabwe.”

This experience ignited Hugo’s passion for transformative agricultural practice. As a result, he launched a new regenerative agriculture project that aims to regenerate degraded soils in collaboration with local smallholder farmers, transforming the land into a fertile terrain able to support growing food. This project, which will run for two years, will contribute to building a body of evidence on the value of regenerative agriculture, with hopes to influence national policy in Zimbabwe.

Hugo will work on a portion of land belonging to ART’s farm, turning it into a centre of excellence for training, and demonstrating the social and environmental outcomes of adopting regenerative agricultural practices.

Hugo’s research is funded by Agricultural Partnerships Trust (APT) which is in collaboration with Agricultural Research Trust (ART). APT is an Oak partner through our Regenerative Landscapes sub-programme of the Environment Programme, which supports partners in reversing land degradation and increasing prosperity to adopt sustainable land use policies. You can read more about the programme here and learn more about the work of APT here. Visit here to find out more about studying Biosciences at Exeter.