Press release: ORFC more relevant than ever in 2018

Tickets are now on sale for the much-loved Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC), now in its ninth year.

Taking place on 4-5 January 2018 in the Oxford Town Hall, the ORFC welcomes practising mud-on-the-boots farmers and growers, with scientists and economists, activists and lawyers, and everyone else with a serious interest in working towards a more sustainable food and agricultural system.

The conference themes are split across five strands this year: Farm Practice, Growing and Supporting, Food Sovereignty, The Big Ideas and Brexit.

Conference Manager Nessie Reid said: “We are delighted to announce the ORFC 2018 programme – packed with practical farming know how and debate ranging from Brexit to systems change, to wildlife friendly farming.  Industrial agriculture is one of the largest contributors to biodiversity loss and climate change. There has never been a more important time in the history of humanity to implement farming systems that not only provide us with fresh, clean food, but which also support soil health, our water and the biosphere. I believe the ORFC is a collective beacon of optimism for envisioning and working towards a bright food and farming future.”

Speaking at a recent event, Environment Secretary Michael Gove warned that the UK is 30-40 years away from “the fundamental eradication of soil fertility” in parts of the country, adding “we have encouraged a type of farming which has damaged the earth… if you have heavy machines churning the soil and impacting it, if you drench it in chemicals that improve yields but in the long term undercut the future fertility of that soil, you can increase yields year on year but ultimately you really are cutting the ground away from beneath your own feet. Farmers know that.”1

As well as showcasing new techniques for best practice in agroecological farming, which would go a long way to addressing our looming soil crisis, there will be broader discussions on what must happen to create real, worthwhile change in our food system, post-Brexit and beyond. In this spirit, the ORFC organisers have invited the Environment Secretary to speak at the conference.

Nessie added: “The ORFC is widely regarded as a powerful platform for discussing and determining the type of agricultural policies we – as civil society at large – should be calling for. There really is nothing else like it in the farming calendar.”

The ORFC would like to thank the following the following funders, sponsors and partner organisations, without whose support this event would not be possible: Compassion in World Farming, Cotswold Seeds, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Landworkers Alliance, the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association, Riverford, the Soil Association, Sustain and Triodos.

-ENDS-

For more information and interviewees, or to request press passes, please contact:
Katharine Mansell, ORFC Marketing and Communications Manager
katharine@orfc.org.uk / skype: khmansell /  twitter: @commsnerd

For conference enquiries please contact:
Nessie Reid, ORFC Conference Manager, nessie@orfc.org.uk

Conference quick links:
- Tickets available here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/oxford-real-farming-conference-orfc-2018-tickets-38806494269
- More info on evening activities here: http://orfc.org.uk/orfc-2018/evening-dinners/
- Our blog archive, containing opinion pieces on issues from agroforestry and flooding, to Brexit and glyphosate: http://orfc.org.uk/blog/
- Our twitter account: https://twitter.com/ORFC and conference hashtag: #ORFC18

NOTES TO EDITORS:
1) Address given at the launch of the Sustainable Soils Alliance

About the Oxford Real Farming Conference (www.orfc.org.uk): 
In 2009, agricultural writer Graham Harvey (now of Pasture Promise TV) invited Colin Tudge and Ruth West (founders of the Campaign for Real Farming) to help establish a new kind of farming conference. The conference, first held in 2010 as a much-needed alternative to the concurrently-running Oxford Farming Conference, provides an innovative environment for some radical discussions on some of the biggest issues facing our society today. ORFC delegates are those from across food and farming, with an interest in new agricultural models. They represent those who are interested in meeting global food system challenges in original, environmentally sustainable ways. The point of the ORFC is not simply to attack the status quo but to look ahead — to ask what the world really needs, and what really can be done.