The ORFC 2018 Programme is now finalised. Hooray! If you would like to download a PDF of our programme, click here .
Chair: Kath Dalmeny (Sustain) as facilitator. ORFC looks set to take place at an important moment in the Brexit saga. The EU (Withdrawal/Repeal) Bill will be in full parliamentary swing; we may have a Fisheries Bill White Paper; and an Agriculture Bill White Paper could be due ‘any day now’. We should know more about the state of play with regard to the UK’s possible ‘no deal’, ‘transition deal’ or ‘deep and special’ trade agreement with the EU. We will all have knowledge to share on the mood music coming from Defra and other Government departments and agencies. Our session will refresh participants on what we now know and what’s coming over the horizon. Leave your gloom or optimism at the door and come simply in exploratory mode, ready to share your own insights. We want this to be a lively and interactive session, with visual aids to help us navigate.
The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will take part in a Q&A chaired by Zac Goldsmith MP.
Chair: Carol McKenna. Speaker: Philip Lymbery (CIWF). Today many animals face extinction and it’s not only climate change and habitat destruction that are to blame. The impact of consumer demand for cheap meat is equally devastating. We are falsely led to believe that squeezing animals into factory farms and cultivating crops in vast, chemical-soaked prairies is a necessary evil. Our planet’s resources are reaching breaking point: awareness is slowly building that the wellbeing of society depends on a thriving natural world. In this presentation that builds on his book Dead Zone: Where the wild things were, Philip Lymbery will take us on an investigative journey across the globe, focusing on iconic species to understand the role that industrial farming is playing in their plight and to highlight the work of pioneering farmers, who are taking action to save life on Earth.
Chair: Sarah Woods (writer, narrative artist, Wales Green Hero). Speakers: Dave Goulson (University of Sussex) and David Macdonald (University of Oxford). A new study from German nature reserves reveals a 75% decline in flying insects over the past 27 years. What’s the reason? What are the implications – for farming and the food supply, for humanity, and for the biosphere? What can be done? Why should we care?
Chair: Nora McKeon (writer, researcher, activist). Speakers: Dee Woods (Granville Community Kitchen), Tom Wakeford (CAWR). Localised food production is growing in importance and recognition in the UK and abroad. In urban and rural areas, organised local communities and social movements are working on food issues as a way to achieve social justice and reaffirmation of their rights and food sovereignty. In the UK’s current context of policy uncertainties, the impact of the UK’s international food footprint may be overlooked. After Brexit, the Global South will feel the impact through new trade agreements that favour certain commodities, productions systems and types of producers which most probably will affect the sustainability of local, nutritious and ecologically-produced food; and increase the use of natural resources to support the production of food and commodities for export to the UK. The session will generate awareness and discussion on the role and importance of defending localised food systems and the inclusion of “ignored” voices in policy forums at all levels.
Adam Horovitz, poet-in-residence at last year’s ORFC, launches his new book about pastoral farming at the close of day one. For the last 15 months, Adam was embedded on four certified Pasture for Life farms in Cornwall, Kent, Yorkshire and Wales - learning, and writing, about pasture farming and the ethics and politics of farming. Published in Jan 2018 by Palewell Press, and illustrated by Jo Sanders, the book invokes the spirit of Ted Hughes and follows in the footsteps of Wendell Berry and is - according to T S Eliot-prize-winning poet Philip Gross - “Personal journal and public statement, lyric observation and prospectus for radical care of the land”. Adam will read from the book, accompanied by Becky Dellow on the fiddle, and you will hear from those who shared the journey with him. He will sign copies of the book after the launch.
Chair: Vicki Hird (Sustain). Speakers: Tim Lang (City University), Julian Gold (Farm Manager, Hendred Estate), Rebecca Laughton (LWA). We need to talk about farm workers. The UK’s agricultural workforce has always been on the frontline of change. Now Brexit has the potential to affect availability of seasonal and permanent migrant labour, to affect food prices and so the value of work, and to change or worsen labour rights and standards. The influence of innovation in agri-tech also looks poised to affect the workforce. This trend will continue to be reinforced by the government’s policy of promoting agri-technology and encouraging trade patterns that tend to import high-labour products and export low-labour products. Again Brexit-induced trade deals could exacerbate that. This session will look at these issues, call on the audience for their experiences, and work with the audience on solutions, both political and practical, from local to global.
Chair: Liz Bowles (Soil Association). Speakers: Julian Gold (Hendred Estate, Oxfordshire), Iain Tolhurst (Tolhurst Organics), Kierra Box (Friends of the Earth), Fidelity Weston (Pasture-Fed Livestock Association). We will explore the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’ of future farm payments, focusing on the direct experiences of farmers and growers to identify how the governance of farm support can be radically improved. What are the worst aspects of the current system and are there elements of the current system that we need to keep and improve? Are there innovative alternatives Defra could trial during a changeover period? Can the UK learn any lessons from the governance mechanisms for farm support in other countries, such as New Zealand and Switzerland? Who should do what - across the private, public and third sectors? What are the pros and cons of various mechanisms such as audits, verification, regulation, standards, and existing assurance schemes? After what promises to be a highly informative and perhaps cathartic session, we’ll feed your key messages into Defra so they hear the voices of ORFC farmers and growers loud and clear.
Chair: Dee Butterly (LWA). Speakers: Ellen Rignall (Trill Farm Garden), Adam Keeves (Plowright Organics), Katie Hastings (Green Isle Growers Coop), Nick Johnson (Sheffield Organic Growers). A rich diversity of independent short supply chains and local markets are key to the resilience, viability and economic security of small scale farmers. Whilst the UK grocery market is highly concentrated with eight supermarkets holding over 95% of the market share, there is also a growing network of farmers across the UK developing creative alternative distribution models to sell their produce through. This session will look at how different market gardens in different parts of the UK have adapted to the regions they are in and the markets they have access to. We will hear from farmers who work on market gardens from four very different regions in the UK, and about how the climate, location and the markets they are in impact what they grow, how they grow it, who they sell to and how.
Chair: Ed Hamer (LWA). Speakers: Christopher Price (CLA), Simon Fairlie (The Land Magazine), Jyoti Fernandes (LWA). In the wake of the Brexit referendum numerous voices have emerged to forecast and influence the debate over the future of food and farming in the UK. Ostensibly arguing from opposing corners have been the Country Landowners Association – representing the country’s largest commercial estates – and the Land Workers’ Alliance – representing small-scale family farmers. This session will briefly outline three alternative visions for the future of agricultural support and rural development in the UK before opening to the floor for your thoughts on areas of disagreement or commonality between them – or entirely new perspectives altogether.
Speaker: Mama D (Community Centred Knowledge). When we speak about food systems, more often than not we think of them as food-producing structures. We focus on the food providers of the field, but what of the food provider within the home? Does the way we think about what we choose to eat influence where we get it from and what we think of as a food source? Do our food preferences and the stories we have around them determine how we express our food sovereignty in our daily lives? If so, then how is this manifest? What are the things that determine where we source our food and how do these determinants affect different members of society? This session will be an interactive exploration of how we relate to our food and where we source it. It will involve fun and games and searching conversation. We will finish by bringing together new and renewed ideas about how we can engage with the food systems that surround us to bring a greater sense of economic, social and political justice to our own lives and those of the communities we live amongst.
Chair: Carol Mckenna (CIWF). Speakers: Philip Lymbery (CIWF), Elizabeth Kucinich (Rodale Institute), Patrick Holden (SFT), Duncan Williamson (WWF). What are the benefits to biodiversity and to the countryside of pasture-based systems? What are the benefits for Britain to pioneer pasture-based food and farming? What about climate fears about ruminants? How do we use the subsidy system to deliver public goods, which support rural communities and farming? How do we end people’s confusion about sustainable food, especially protein? How do we support moves to mixed farming? How do we bring about a zeitgeist in favour of a fusion between food, farming and nature? All these questions and more will be discussed by our panel and with the audience.
Chair: Liz Bowles (Soil Association). Speakers: Ted Green (Ancient Tree Forum), David Brass (The Lakes Free Range Egg Co), Andy Smith (Bangor University), Paul Burgess (Cranfield University). Trees and shrubs used to be much more important features in the lives of animals in the UK, providing shelter and fodder, as well as improving health and welfare and increasing growth rates. No doubt research would help us to understand why we moved away from combining livestock with trees; perhaps it was the reduction in farm labour, perhaps improved grass varieties, or perhaps the removal of hedges and hence trees, which saw livestock having less interaction with trees. This session aims to present the ways in which the interaction of livestock with trees can be beneficial for livestock, soil and the farmer and provide details of how we can incorporate trees within livestock environments in the future. Our speakers will discuss tree fodder, how trees can enrich the range for poultry, how livestock can reduce the need for mowing and weed control in orchards, and catch up on all the research currently taking place into increasing our understanding of the role of trees for livestock production systems.
Chair: Kate Still (Farming Adviser, Animal Health and Welfare). Speakers: Siobhan Mullan (University of Bristol Veterinary School), Lesley Prior (sheep and goat farmer), Angela Wright (CIWF, PFLA). Animal welfare science has developed. Now, we can use science to identify not just what animals need, but also their preferences. But what does this mean at farm-level? In this session, we will discuss how we can use these preferences to develop systems that enable animals not just to cope but to thrive and enjoy their environment. We’ll also talk about the wider benefit these high welfare systems can have in delivering sustainable farming systems. Siobhan Mullan will be leading a crash course in animal welfare science, including an interactive session that will question what we think is important to animals versus what they think is important for them. Lesley Prior will be leading the theme of applying the science on-farm with a case study of a sheep and goat system that puts animal welfare at the centre. Angela Wright will be sharing insights into the wider benefits of pasture-based systems in delivering for animals and the environment.
Chair: Patrick Holden (SFT). Speakers: Robert Craig (Cairnhead Farm), Rebecca Pow (Member of Parliament for Taunton Deane). At present, all farmers and land managers are required to submit multiple and overlapping audits to government agencies, food companies and certifiers each year. Most of these schemes use different categories of assessment, metrics and units of measurement. This is unnecessarily expensive, bureaucratic and time consuming, and also makes it impossible for consumers, farmers, food businesses and policymakers to gain an accurate understanding of the comparative sustainability of products resulting from different methods of production. This session will address these issues and outline the progress of a producer working group, convened by the Sustainable Food Trust, which has come together to assess opportunities for achieving convergence between existing sustainability assessment tools. An integrated assessment would allow government departments to assess eligibility for public support payments, food companies to assess the sustainability of the products they source, citizens to better understand the story behind their food and farmers to monitor continuous environmental, social and economic performance year on year.
Speakers: Food Workers Unite? collective The current food system is reliant on human labour: on the land, in restaurants, in processing and distribution. Labourers in the food system typically experience poor working conditions and low pay. In some cases, there may be tensions between the interests of farmers who own, rent or manage land, and those employed to work it either seasonally or by contract. There may also be little active solidarity and contact between food workers in rural farming areas and workers employed in the distribution and food service sector in urban areas. The session aims to develop conversations through mapping labour relations in the UK food system and exploring potential opportunities for building relationships and developing solidarities in an effort to work towards food justice in the UK. This will be an interactive workshop for all participants.
Speakers: Geetie Singh-Watson (Duke of Cambridge), Guy Singh-Watson (Riverford). This session will tell the story of two organic businesses that became one; it might inspire some and put others off. The aim is to help young, values driven business avoid some of pitfalls and pain of the early years and make it to a more comfortable place before the fire goes out and the tank is empty. It will examine the business and personal challenges, the decisions and thinking that helped these businesses make it. The Duke of Cambridge was founded by the uncompromising communard Geetie Singh in 1997, is still thriving and still the UKs only organic pub. Guy Watson planted his first leeks in 1987 and with pathological determination grew Riverford Organic Farmers over thirty years to make 50,000 home deliveries a week before selling it to his staff this year. The two businesses became one when Geetie and Guy married at the Duke in 2014
Chair: Clare Horrell (Real Farming Trust). Speakers: Alison Rickett (Fresh Start), Spencer Christy (Lauriston Farm). This session will use real-world examples to demonstrate the innovative models that are being developed to keep land secured for farming beyond the current generation of farmers. Spencer Christy from the biodynamic Lauriston Farm will describe his journey setting up a Charitable Community Benefit Society which now manages all the activities on his farm. Alison Rickett from Fresh Start Land Enterprise will describe some of her recent work running the Land Matching Service for England, matching landowners with new farmers in innovative ways. There will be plenty of time at the end for discussion and questions.
Chair: George McAllister (CAWR, Garden Africa). Speakers: Elizabeth Westaway (International Public Health Nutrition Consultant), Lachlan McKenzie (Permaculture Association Britain), Chris Evans (Himalayan Permaculture Centre, Applewood Permaculture Centre), Anne-Marie Mayer (Independent Nutrition and Agriculture Consultant). The session on Permaculture and International Development will look at the broader picture of bringing about the Agrarian Renaissance through a permaculture/agroecological approach to food production, including agroforestry, and the transformation of food and nutrition in International Development contexts.
Speakers: Jules Pretty (University of Essex), Sarah Williams (Sustain), Tim Lang (City University). We have an increasingly urbanising world in which we are becoming more detached from nature. If more people become growers there will be significant resilience and wellbeing gains which will in time change our relationship with the living planet. In the UK we have a major and increasing mental health disease burden. The World Health Organisation predicts it will be the second largest globally by 2020 with a corresponding decline in well-being. Well-being is much more than good food; a connection with nature/the living planet brings other benefits and so provides a more holistic sense of well-being. Communal food growing is brilliant because it combines nature-based therapy with a social element to combat loneliness, and also enables personal growth and learning. Getting communal food growing happening at scale should be an extremely effective way of achieving sustainable well-being. Thus, a whole systems approach which embraces food, exercise, mental health, emotional and spiritual connection and recognises the interconnection between ourselves and the living planet, has greater scope to lever the food system changes that we seek.
Chair: Ulrich Loening (University of Edinburgh). Speakers: Abi Mordin (Propagate), Svenja Meyerricks (Centre for Human Ecology). Civilisations rise and fall by how they feed themselves. The ecology of the human species changed dramatically with the inventions of farming, which made civilisation possible but left long-term impacts on the planet. Then the Enlightenment of the 18th Century created modern science and the industrial revolution, which put farming on a new productive footing. The success of this means that now the planet is “bursting at the seams” with the human population. The old order, in which humans needed to be protected from Nature, has reversed, and Nature now needs to be protected from humans if they themselves are to survive and be happy. The understanding of this; about how, where and ultimately whether humans live on the planet; is Human Ecology. It has to reach way beyond science, to include the arts and humanities, since these determine our behaviour, and hence our ecological impacts and relation to Nature. We now need a new Enlightenment to create a post-industrial society in tune with the biosphere. This session will look at these fundamentals, including some general principles for practical action, and then a number of examples of how that action is being taken.
Speakers: Chris Church (Westmill Sustainable Energy Trust), Guy Parker (Wychwood Biodiversity), Liz Reason (Southill Community Energy). How we can make land on renewable energy sites as productive as possible while maintaining and maximising biodiversity? There is plenty of evidence to show how renewable energy and biodiversity can flourish together on farmland. At Westmill organic farm we have solar and wind power - both community owned, and WeSET (an educational trust) uses income from these to promote positive change. Now the challenge is to go beyond activities such as sheep grazing on solar sites and look at how we can develop work on food, energy and biodiversity. The session will hear from Guy Parker of Wychwood Biodiversity (who has pioneered work on these issues) and from local site developers. A facilitated discussion will explore both the practical issues and the policy moves that are needed to enable many more sites to deliver a win-win-win future.
Chair: Anna Cura (Food Ethics Council). Speakers: Clare Hill (FAI), Ian Pigott (Farmer, Thrales End Business Centre and The Farmschool). Food producers are at the front line of the food sector, yet are stuck in a system that may not truly align with what they care about. What are the values we want to fight for? How can we engage with others in more meaningful ways? Join us to explore a new way of thinking about, and regaining power in, the food system. This session will explore how shifting mindsets - from treating people as simply consumers of our products to instead engaging with them as citizens - can help open a whole new set of possibilities. Following a brief introduction on #FoodCitizenship from the speakers, we will identify and discuss how producers can reshape the food system for the better. We will explore ideas on how to engage with one another as citizens with shared values, rather than consumers with competing interests.
Chair: Dan Powell (LandBase). Speakers: Gabriel Kaye & Elisabeth Winkler (Biodynamic Land Trust). Recognising the needs of the land and the need in us for connection to land, nature and farming brings up the question “How do we meet these needs?” This is quickly followed by other questions such as “How can we save land for healthy nature and healthy food?” and “What can I do to stop the destruction of soil life, plant life and insect life on so many of our farms of today?” Join us for an hour of connection to land and what it means to each one of us. Explore raising awareness of the need to secure land for healthy farming now for future generations, and share how we can communicate these important messages to create a call to action to secure land for healthy farming and save places as havens for nature and real food growing in the midst of the industrial farming takeover of our countryside.
Chair: Vicki Hird (Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming). Speakers: Alison Rickett (Fresh Start Land Enterprise), Ashley Wheeler (Trill Farm Garden) David Corrie-Close (The Horned Beef Company), Hannah Claxton (Eves Hill VegCo), Graeme Willis (CPRE), James Odgers (Stream Farm), Rebecca Laughton (LWA). LWA and CPRE are hosting this session to consider the threats of falling diversity of farms in England and the value of supporting new farms and farmers. Speakers from CPRE and LWA will look at the evidence of farm loss, potential challenges for the English countryside and the opportunities for new collaborative models of farming. Smaller breakout groups will follow to give participants the chance to find out more from farmers, growers and others already making this happen.
The long-awaited release of the Land Workers’ Alliance feature documentary: In Our Hands profiles the emergence of a new generation of farmers who are outgrowing the industrial food system with a vision for post-Brexit food production that redefines our relationship with food. As we engage with the most significant change to UK food and farming for a generation, In Our Hands offers a unique perspective on a new agricultural landscape, one that will bring back life to the soil, a fair wage to the farmer and the flavour to our tomatoes! With interviews from beef, dairy, cereal and horticultural producers, academics and activists across the UK, In Our Hands builds a narrative to describe the revolution that is transforming the way our food is produced and distributed.
Chair: Christine Page (Smiling Tree Farm). Speakers: Alex Heffron (Mountain Hall Farm), Kees Frederiks (Stroud Micro Dairy), Tali Eichner (Plaw Hatch Farm). There is a micro-revolution going on within the dairying world with more people than ever considering small-scale dairying. In this session you will hear from recent start-ups: Alex Heffron of Mountain Hall Farm in Pembrokeshire and Kees Frederiks of Stroud Micro Dairy as well as Tali Eichner, the Dairy Manager for the well-established Plaw Hatch Farm, where they process raw milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, cream and kefir. Hear Alex’s and Kees’ stories and learn about the key considerations for running a micro-dairy such as the parlour, bottling room, infrastructure, sales and marketing, as well as what they would do differently next time. From Tali, gain an overview of what is required to process around 2,000L of milk each week into various products on the small-scale. There will be plenty of time for discussion and questions, so please do bring them along.
Chair: Robert Fraser (Real Farming Trust). Speaker: Perrine Hervé-Gruyer (La Ferme du Bec Hellouin). Showing that small-scale farming can provide enough food to feed the world, is the challenge that Perrine and Charles Herve-Gruyer are undertaking at La Ferme du Bec Hellouin in Normandy. In this session, Perrine will show you how using the principles of permaculture and bio-intensive methods, along with other techniques learned from organic pioneers and indigenous tribes from around the world, enables them to be highly productive and profitable on a small scale whilst protecting the biosphere and sequestering carbon.
Chair: Sarah Woods (writer, narrative artist, Wales Green Hero). Speakers: Jeff Leach (King’s College London and the British Gut Project), Colin Tudge (College for Real Farming and Food Culture). The bacteria that live in our guts have traditionally been seen as hangers-on that occasionally turned nasty – but now it’s clear that they are key players in nutrition, largely determining how we deal with our food and the effect it has on us. The influence of our genes, too, is also being radically reassessed; they are much more affected by outside events than has been appreciated. All in all, the science of nutrition is being transformed – with huge implications for diet and hence for food production and processing. A conversation with Dr Jeff Leach and Colin Tudge.
Speaker: Pete Richie (Nourish Scotland). This interactive session led by Pete Ritchie will explore the range of possible asks for the Good Food Nation Bill which is due to be presented to Parliament in early 2019. Pete will provide an update on the Bill to date, what has already been agreed, and what is still up for discussion. Then the audience will have some time to talk in small groups about what they see as the most important provisions to be secured in the bill, and where most effort should be put into advocacy. There will then be time for feedback, questions and discussion.
Speakers: Derek Gow (Derek Gow Consultancy), Jake Fiennes (Raveningham), Chris Jones (Woodland Valley). This workshop will examine the possibilities for direct intervention in the restoration of biodiversity for farmers and landowners through the partial perspective of species reintroduction. It will consider just how well farmers understand these issues and opportunities and how well they are being advised by leading organisations. Rather than nature conservation being a bothersome add-on for landowners, it is possible for them to become a driving force. What is required to do this? Will it require considerable change in attitudes and expertise?
Chair: Steve Trotter (Wildlife Trust). Speakers: David Bowles (RSPCA), Simon Berry (Devon Wildlife Trust), Caroline Corsie (Worcestershire Wildlife Trust), Vicki Hird (Sustain), Stephen Briggs (farmer), David Bowles (RSPCA), Courtney Scott ( Courtney Scott Food Foundation). This session will be about the public benefits or ‘goods’ we could be seeking to generate from our new farming policies. Proposers will make the case for some benefits (not an exhaustive list) which the public could be paying for and the audience will grill them for proof. Then they will have a chance to vote on the goods they want to see supported. This will include some detail on why and how all should get engaged with the on-going consultations and surveys which Defra and others will be doing around the future of farm policy.
These sessions are 15-20 minutes each, repeated three or four times with different participants over the course of an hour. This first session will include the themes: Better biodiversity? – Brexit risks and opportunities for our beleaguered wildlife with Matt Shardlow (Buglife); Water: first in the firing line? With Richard Benwell (Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust); Shaping seed policy to grow diversity and resilience for our food system with David Price (Seed Co-operative); and Genetic modification – how Brexit could bring GM to our fields and our food – Liz O’Neill (GM Freeze).
These sessions are 15-20 minutes each, repeated three or four times with different participants over the course of an hour. This session will include the themes: Pesticides and Brexit – threats and opportunities with Josie Cohen and Nick Mole (Pesticide Action Network UK); Synthetic biology: Regulating new forms of genetic engineering with Helena Paul and Ricarda Steinbrecher (ExoNexus); The Pig Idea: How to get food waste back on the menu for pigs and chickens with Karen Luyckx (The Pig Idea campaign and Feedback); Public money for public goods: Improving farm animal welfare post-Brexit with James West (Compassion in World Farming).
This is a space for new ideas/books/projects etc to be launched! Each speaker will have 10 minutes on The Launchpad: Who Owns England? And why? And what for? Come and find out! By Gill Barron (The Land), Mindfullness and meditation with farming with Holly Beckett of the Focused Farmers project, The Field margin app by Camilla Hayselden-Ashby and the Dean Organic Fund launch by Nic Lampkin, NERC-BBSRC research project by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, looking at achieving sustainable agricultural intensification.
Chair: Jean Blaylock (Trade Justice Movement). Speakers: Nick Dearden (Global Justice Now), Kerry McCarthy (MP), Honor Eldridge (Soil Association). Future trade deals for the UK are already being discussed behind closed doors, deals that will have profound effects on farming. Tariffs are only the start in trade deals nowadays – the big focus is on regulations. Standards on pesticide and antibiotic use, animal welfare, food safety, environment, and workers’ rights will all be on the negotiating table. High profile issues like chlorine chicken and hormone beef hit the headlines, and they symbolise choices about what kind of food and farming system we want – here and around the world. They are choices that should be made through democratic debate and public discussion. Yet rules set by trade negotiators in secret can override choices and decisions made in national agriculture, food, health and environment policy. This session will explore the risks and options, and discuss what we can do to prevent trade deals from undermining the diverse and sustainable food system we want to build.
Speakers: Helen Woodcock (Kindling Trust), Oli Rodker (Ecological Land Cooperative), Brian Kelly (OrganicLea), Jean Baptiste Cavalier (RENETA). Inspired by the amazing example of the French Incubator Farm Network, RENETA, Ecological Land Cooperative, OrganicLea and the Kindling Trust will be discussing the role of such a network in the UK to help grow and support a new generation of ecological farmers. In the context of our food system, we will look at what we already have in place to support new entrants to farming and what the gaps are, and explore how RENETA helps to support hundreds of incubator farms across France. Importantly the session will then involve a very practical discussion to kick start our own RENETA here in the UK!
Speakers: Dee Butterly (People’s Food Policy), Colin Anderson (CAWR). A People’s Food Policy was published earlier this year after two years of research and engagement with people from across the food system. The project was steered by members of The Land Workers’ Alliance, Coventry University’s Center for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Global Justice Now and the Ecological Land Cooperative. A People’s Food Policy outlines a people’s vision of food and farming in England that is now supported by over 100 food and farming organisations. Using the principles of food sovereignty, agroecology and the right to food, it maps out what a comprehensive post-Brexit national food policy could look like based on these frameworks. This interactive session will explore how we can best use this document in our communities, campaigns, lobbying and education work to advance a people’s movement for a better food system, and what should happen now. The workshop will focus both on national level action and on decentralised but interconnected community-level work. We will use a range of participatory approaches to develop ideas and commitments around how to mobilise a People’s Food Policy and what practical action and next steps we can take.
Chair: Robin Grey (Land Justice Network) Speakers: Christopher Price (CLA), Molly Scott Cato MEP (Green Party). A session looking at how we currently tax land, exploring other ways this might be done and how this would affect farming. Please come anticipating some small group discussion time as well as the more traditional conference panel format.
Speakers: Adam Payne (LWA), David Handley (Farmers For Action), Morgan Ody (Confederation Paysanne), Jyoti Fernandes (LWA). This session will bring together farmers from active unions with strong histories of direct action to discuss the successes, possibilities and limitations of farmer civil disobedience in achieving policy changes. Speakers will discuss some of the most successful actions they have been involved in with photos and stories of agricultural civil disobedience that has achieved successful outcomes, as well as looking at when, where and why it has failed. Speakers will also analyse the possibilities and potential strategies for using civil disobedience to put farmers’ demands on the table in these times of policy uncertainty about the future of farming in the UK.
Speakers: Bob Kennard (Graig Farm Organics), Paddy Hoare (Perdix Partnership), Richard Young (SFT), Phil Stocker (National Sheep Association). No matter how well animals are cared for on the farm, if they get stressed or frightened before slaughter this can affect meat quality as well as the welfare of the whole farming system. For those with closed herds or flocks, slaughtering also presents additional emotional and practical challenges for farmers, because it’s the only time the animals leave the farm. The number of red meat abattoirs in the UK has continued to decline and for some producers who retail their meat locally, whether as organic, pasture-fed, free-range or rare breed, the cost of taking animals long distances to slaughter and having the carcasses returned has become a major financial burden. This session will see the launch of a new report and campaign, and explore solutions - including the potential for changes to legislation to make possible a simplified form of mobile abattoir slaughtering, and the creation of viable new local abattoirs.
Chair: Jerry Alford (Soil Association). Speakers: Nicola Cannon (Royal Agricultural University), Robert Diprose (RootWave), Simon Blackmore (Harper Adams University). Effective mechanical weeding is crucial to systems that avoid herbicides. But as technology advances, mechanical weeding is becoming an increasingly effective and valuable tool for all arable farmers. Getting your weeding strategy right will depend on your tools, your situation and of course, your weeds. In this session we will look at strategies for large and small-scale operations, arable and horticulture. It will cover opportunities for control of weeds on a field scale. Nicola Cannon will share results from the Innovative Farmers trials on mechanical weeding, as well as in field-scale fruit weed control; Robert Diprose will explore the role of electricity in weed control; and Simon Blackmore will ask us whether and how robots could be the solution.
Chair: Ben Raskin (Soil Association). Speakers: James Alexander (Primewest Ltd), Niels Corfield (Edible Cities), Phillip Hubbert (Jepco). Farming profitably while maintaining a healthy soil and a resilient farm system has always been a challenge. Climate change is making extreme weather events more common. The number of available chemicals is reducing. In many specialist farms, particularly the larger arable and horticultural ones, soil degradation and erosion are a major issue. Some farmers are pushing the boundaries of what is known about managing soils across a range of cropping systems such as working collaboratively through a shared rotation, trialling new cultivation techniques like min till without glyphosate or collaborative soil testing.
Chair: Paul Flynn (Soil Association). Speakers: Stephen Briggs (Abacus Agriculture), Iain Tolhurst (Tolhurst Organics), James Wrighton (Vitacress). Nature doesn’t do monocropping, should you? In recent years there has been a growing challenge to the prevalence of fields of Perennial Ryegrass and cereals. In grassland, there has been a resurgence in the popularity of diverse, species-rich herbal leys with mineral rich species working together to enrich soils, improve feed value and exploit the whole soil profile. At the same time, legume-cereal mixes are giving increased total yields, and if one crop doesn’t do well, another can compensate. This also provides more diversity of species on the farm, potentially improving the habitat for wildlife and an improved microclimate for crop growth. In this session we will debate the pros and cons of mixed cropping across a wide range of applications. Discover the pitfalls and practice of the art of mixed cropping with a chance to raise your own questions. How could you benefit from using a more diverse seed mix? Given the yields, what would be the equivalent increase in your farm size? Will you ever risk going solo again? Join us for a lively “Farmers Question Time”.
Speaker: John Letts. Heritage and ancient grains are becoming very popular with bakers, brewers and distillers. In this session John Letts will first provide an overview of the major ‘Eurasian’ cereal species that are grown in the UK, and discuss their history, botany and uses. Participants will be divided into groups and will be able to handle whole specimens and grains of all of the major cereal species, including archaeological specimens. The second half of this presentation will focus on how the genetically-diverse landraces of our ancestors were transformed into modern monocultures, and clarify some of the confusion that exists within the baking world regarding terms such as ‘heritage’ grains, populations, landraces, varieties and ancient grains. Don’t be late!
Speakers: Alice Bettany, Helen Kearney, Mark Rumbell, Anne Stobart, Jo Smith, Jim Twine. In the UK there is considerable potential to grow the market for home-produced herbs, especially as the focus shifts on the UK becoming more sustainable and less dependent on imports. On the demand side there is genuine interest in natural products involving herbs, from animal health to body care, culinary and medicinal contexts, although little to educate consumers in distinguishing well-grown supplies. On the supply side, there are committed growers from organic farms to agroforestry projects who could produce many more herbs if there was advice and training, more reliable demand and supporting infrastructure. However, there are many issues to face in growing the herb market, from maintaining quality to effective marketing, and ensuring that plans are economically viable. The way forward is likely to include development of links, education and cooperative ventures. This session is designed to bring together those with interests in herb cultivation to consider what is needed to further develop and underpin this market.
Speakers: Nic Lampkin (ORC), Lynda Brown (Biodynamic Association), Jyoti Fernandes (LWA), Adrian Blackshaw (Organic Trade Board), Laura MacKenzie (Soil Association), Susanne Padel (ORC). Organic organisations are working together to develop a movement-led organic action plan for England, in partnership with government. The plan will be launched in 2018, ahead of Brexit. To do this, Defra has formed an Organic Roundtable with the English Organic Forum, which represents the organisations working with and for organic farmers and food businesses. We need your input to define the actions which will really make a difference. The overarching objectives of the plan will be introduced and smaller groups will focus on the themes of citizen access/engagement; small-scale systems/short supply chains; national supply chains/trade opportunities; support for organic conversion/maintenance and related agri-environment schemes; and participatory research, knowledge exchange and information.
Speaker: Francesca Price (The Gaia Foundation/We Feed the World). Photographic legends from Martin Parr to Graciela Iturbide to Rankin have donated their time to showcase the work of the women, men and communities who really feed the world, and help audiences understand some of the pressures they currently face in doing so. This will be a sneak preview of an amazing body of work that will culminate in a high profile exhibition that will open in London this time next year before traveling to cities around the world. The exhibition will also be a hub for series of talks, workshops and films led by the food sovereignty movement and featuring various artists and high profile speakers. Please come along to see the photos, hear the stories and input into next years collaborative schedule of events.
Chair: Sue Prichard (Food, Farming & Countryside Commission). Speakers: Charlotte Hollins (Fordhall Organic Farm), Marina O’Connell (Huxhams Cross Farm), Anne-Marie Mayer (Independent Nutrition and Agriculture Consultant), Dr Sarah Myhill, (Secretary, British Society for Ecological Medicine), Izabella Natrins (Traditional Nutrition Chef, Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine Advocate), Elizabeth Westaway (International Public Health Nutrition Specialist). A ‘back to the future’ conversation about how farmers, nutritionists, doctors and chefs could work together to bring about cohesive and sustainable changes for the food system. How can farming, growing and cooking food improve nutritional quality, and get citizens eating healthy, affordable food?
Speakers: Ben Margolis (The Grange, Norfolk), Sophie Antonelli (Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens). There are more people than ever being forced to flee their homes and seeking sanctuary elsewhere due to war, economics, famine, climate change and persecution. Many people come from areas with a strong culture of farming and kitchen gardening and bring with them skills and knowledge which could benefit our own agricultural systems. For many others, gardens and growing spaces are therapeutic, safe places away from the trauma of daily life. How can our community gardens, city farms and other growing spaces become places of sanctuary for refugees and asylum seekers offering therapy, skills, integration and potentially employment? The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, the Permaculture Association, City of Sanctuary and The Grange are exploring this question and in this session will report some of their initial findings gathered from surveys and case studies, and will invite your input for the next stages of the project.
Speakers: Elise Wach (CAWR), Chris Smaje (smallfarmfuture.org). Increasing access to land for small-scale and agroecological farmers is an essential step in transitioning our food systems to become more sustainable, nourishing and fair. Currently, land distribution is highly unequal, land prices are extremely high, and many producers struggle to obtain the planning permission to live on their farms. This session will provide participants with an understanding of practical ways in which more small-scale and agroecological farmers could access land for farming in the UK. It includes strategies for working within the existing planning system and for changing national and local level policies. Information will be useful both to individuals looking for land as well as those wishing to be involved in collective movements for changing land access and distribution. The session builds on the findings from a joint collaboration of the Land Workers’ Alliance and the Institute of Development Studies over the past two years, and incorporates participatory learning methods.
Speaker: Peter Lefort (Eden Project Communities). Whether we are undertaking activism, business or any other project, looking after ourselves often takes a backseat. But none of us are immune to burning out. Join this practical session to discuss the symptoms and risks of burnout, and use tips and tools to help build resilience into our daily (and busy!) lives, as well as how to avoid contributing to burnout in others.
Chair: Lawrence Woodward (Beyond GM, HAWL). Speakers: Chris Aukland (BVSc VetMFHom MRCVS), Karen Seyersted (MSc Integrated Healthcare, Homeopath MARH (UK). With increasing demand from all sectors for the use of antibiotics in food animals to be dramatically reduced, growing numbers of farmers are training to incorporate homeopathy into innovative and successful health management plans. Here, Homeopathy at Wellie Level presents initial findings of two projects that collect and examine the evidence of these successes and explore what can be learned from these farmers who achieve impressive antibiotic reduction and commercial success.
Chair: Charlotte Bickler ORC). Speakers: Andrew Trump (Organic Arable), John Miles (KWS UK Ltd), Mark Lea (Greenacres Farm). Plant breeding is not only a matter of science, but first of all a matter of choices. Which crop traits does organic farming need? What are the expectations from the broader public? Organic farming relies on varieties mostly bred for non-organic systems. These varieties are often poorly adapted to organic conditions and, as a result, they can limit crop performance in terms of production, quality and sustainability. Is “citizen science” the way forward, and what would this involve? A new experience on winter wheat variety testing, joining decentralised, farm-managed trials and thorough statistical analysis, is currently taking off thanks to the LIVESEED EU Project. We will take the audience through these open questions, ongoing challenges and experiences in breeding for organic and low-input systems. We will conclude with an interactive simulation of how a network of participants can develop a collective experiment.
Speakers: Marek Thielemann (Bingenheimer Saatgut), David Price (Seed Co-operative). With nine of every ten mouthfuls of food directly reliant on seeds, and increasing the proportion of vegetables in the diet considered to be beneficial to human and planetary health, where does the seed for this come from? The UK struggles to produce 20% of the organic open pollinated vegetable seed that we need for a resilient food system. In Europe several small seed companies have adopted a successful model to meet this challenge, producing new varieties and top quality organic seed that is tested and ideally suited to organic systems. This session will examine what has made these European seed companies so successful and look at how, through the Seed Co-operative, UK farmers and growers can replicate their model, and their success, to establish the foundations for a resilient real farming future. Join us to see just what is possible.
Chair: Patrick Holden (SFT) Speakers: Charlotte Russell (Eden Project), Gaye Donaldson (Centre for Systemic Constellations), Bronwen Percival (Neal’s Yard Dairy). Who am I, what is it that I am part of and how can I make sense of the world in which I find myself? We are now realising that everything in the universe is connected, bound together by the same common laws and principles which lie behind everything that happens in our world, including and perhaps especially in farming and food production. How can we experience this potential harmony and interconnectivity in our daily lives as food producers? This session will share some of the learnings from SFT’s Harmony Conference in July 2017, exploring harmony through the prisms of cheese making, the work of the Eden centre and the need to reconcile systemic discord.
Speakers: Martin Lines (Cambridgeshire farmer), David Corrie-Close (Cumbria farmer). The Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) is a farmer-led movement bringing together like-minded farmers, organisations and members of the public to promote nature friendly farming. The network will enable nature friendly farmers to connect with each other and should they wish, to play a more visible role in championing nature friendly farming to the public and policy-makers. The network offers an opportunity for the voices of those farming with nature to be heard collectively and increase their impact. This session will start with short presentations from some of the different farmers involved with the NFFN, who will share their reasons for joining and their future aspirations for the network. There will then be an interactive session asking participants how they would like to see the network move forward and how they want to be involved. This will take place through a carousel session for participants where they can input in to the network’s development.
Speakers: Andy Middleton (Slipstream Futures), Aine Morris (CEO, Abergavenny Food Festival), John Davies (Deputy President, NFU Cymru), Illtud Dunsford (Co-Founder, Charcutier). Wales’s innovative ‘future generations’ approach has catalysed farmers, food professionals and NGOs to work with government and Natural Resources Wales in new ways to make change happen. Together, they can change the way that 95% of Wales’ landscape is managed, creating a global prototype lab for the restorative, resilient and profitable farming practice that helps farms, wildlife and people thrive. Panel presentations will be followed by an interactive session.