Programme

 

THE ORFC 2017 PROGRAMME… 

 

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Day 1: 4th January 2017

09:00
09:30
10:00
10:30
11:00
11:30
12:00
12:30
13:00
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14:00
14:30
15:00
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MAIN HALL
OPENING PLENARY
09:00 - 10:00

The conference will be opened by Olivier De Schutter, the 2008 - 2014 UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and currently Co-Chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems.

Break

Changing the productionist paradigm
10:30 - 11:30

Chair: Michel Pimbert Speakers: Kath Dalmeny (Sustain), Ed Gillespie (Futerra), Graeme Willis (CPRE), Michel Pimbert (Coventry University) Governments and corporates assume that the world needs more and more food and so their policies are productionist. But this just isn’t true. So how do we change the narrative?

Break

The power of storytelling: how our stories will win hearts, minds and the countryside
12:00 - 13:00

Speakers: Graham Harvey (farming journalist), Philip Lymbery (CIWF) We are told we live in a post-truth era. People believe what they choose to believe. Elections are increasingly skewed by fake news stories that make big money for their inventors. Search engine algorithms create a distorted and false view of the world. Thus we can no longer rely on science or hard facts to make the case for a humane, ecological agriculture. But our stories will. When we tell these stories - clearly and without embellishment - people understand. Because there’s a ring of authenticity about them. Somehow we instinctively know they’re true. This is how our stories will change the world.

Lunch
13:00 - 14:30

Public money for public good: valuing farm subsidies from different perspectives
14:30 - 15:30

Chair: Vicki Hird (Sustain) Speakers: Helen Browning (Soil Association), Tim Lang (City University, London), Doug Parr (Greenpeace UK) The outcome of June’s EU Referendum means that for the first time in a generation the trade deals, business regulation, and health and environmental legislation underpinning unhealthy and unsustainable behaviour will be debated and re-written. The level of farm subsidies and support will undoubtedly be scrutinised, with many – including government Ministers - arguing they could be spent elsewhere or saved altogether. This session will explore the value of farming, for our health, nature and economy: where else the public subsidy could go to achieve these benefits, why we need farm subsidies at all, and whether and how a case can be made for a new contract between taxpayer, farmer and other land managers. We will have a short answer to these questions from our three expert speakers and then open it to the floor for lively debate.

Break

What goes in and what comes out: resource efficiency, productivity and environmental sustainability of organic and low-input farming
16:00 - 17:00

Chair: Peter Melchett (Soil Association) Speakers: Dr Chuck Benbrook (Benbrook Consulting), Prof Carlo Leifert (NEFG, Newcastle University), Prof. Christine Watson (SRUC) There is considerable controversy about the benefits of low-input and organic farming systems and their currently productivity is often the main criticism about such systems. The session will review and critically discuss current knowledge on the relative productivity, environmental impacts and future sustainability of organic, low-input and intensive via three key note presentations and a 40 minute panel discussion.

Break

17:30 - 18:15

ASSEMBLY ROOM
Break

09:00 - 10:00

Working with animals – low stress handling of animals
10:30 - 11:30

Working with animals – low stress handling of animals
10:30 - 11:30

Chair: William Buckley (Bossington Estate) Speakers: Andrew Brewster (beef farmer, Scotland), Jonny Rider (dairy farmer, Wiltshire) Even where farm animals are raised extensively, they need to be handled from time to time – for inspection, for testing, for milking, for shearing and around the time of giving birth. Such handling can be a stressful experience. What can be done – whether through attitude, planning, equipment or grouping to reduce the level of stress? Farmers share their approaches and experience.

Break

Livestock in the arable rotation
12:00 - 13:00

Chair: Phil Stocker (National Sheep Association) Speakers: Tim May (Nuffield Scholar), David Wilson (Duchy Home Farm), David Walston (Nuffield Scholar). Once integral to mixed farming systems, where they played a valuable role in building soil fertility and utilising crop residues, livestock have been squeezed out of many farms in response to increased economic pressure and the supposed benefits of specialisation. With the continuing decline in soil fertility and the increasing resistance of pests and diseases to the application of chemicals, there are signs that the valuable role that livestock can play in a mixed farm is being recognised. Farmers will report on how they could not continue to produce arable crops without the contribution of livestock on the farm.

Lunch
13:00 - 14:30

Organic matter on the balance sheet
14:30 - 15:30

Chair: Rob Macklin (National Trust) Speakers: Chris Jones (organic mob grazing farm), Stephen Briggs (Abacus Agriculture Consultants) Few of us need reminding of the importance of organic matter in the soil and its vital role in building soil structure, feeding the life of the soil, holding water, influencing plant health and playing a vital role in carbon flow. However, soil organic matter has been much neglected over recent decades. For farmers to make the shift from a dependence upon chemicals to positively building soil carbon, sentiment is not enough. Evidence is needed that is reflected both in the field and on the balance sheet. In this session farmers will tell their stories of building soil organic matter and the tangible benefits to the farm and the balance sheet.

Break

Land beyond the plough
16:00 - 17:00

Chair: Patrick Begg (National Trust) Speakers: Robin Milton (Exmoor grassland farmer), Julia Aglionby (Foundation for Common Land), Neil Heseltine (Hill Top Farm) The 2.2 million ha of uplands in UK, consisting almost entirely of pasture and 17% of UK farmland, are home to two million people and 40% of the UK’s beef cattle, whilst storing 60% of the nation’s carbon and water. Their future will be addressed by Robin Milton (Exmoor farmer and Chairman of the Uplands Committee of the NFU), Julia Aglionby (Executive Director of the Foundation for Common Land) and Neil Heseltine (northern upland farmer).

Break

Increasing access to information on land
17:30 - 18:15

Speakers: Chris Parker (Geovation), Tom Kenny (Shared Assets) To understand and make good decisions about land people need quality information. This session aims to get people thinking about how land data and mapping can help them. We will talk about what information is out there and problems with accessing it. We will then introduce two projects aimed at making information more accessible. The first is Land Explorer, from Shared Assets, a new website that makes it easy for growers to access the information they need. The second is a challenge raised by Geovation, inviting and supporting ideas for ‘Greener, Smarter Communities’. This session will be introduced by Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council.

OLD LIBRARY
Break

09:00 - 10:00

09:00 - 10:00

09:00 - 10:00

Small Farmers in the Twenty-First Century: A snap shot of productivity, viability and multi-functional benefits
10:30 - 11:30

Speakers: Rebecca Laughton (Landworkers Alliance) Although claimed by some to be more productive than large farms, yet deemed by Defra to be virtually irrelevant to mainstream agricultural discourse, little is actually known about the productivity of small farms in the UK. Over the last two years the Landworkers’ Alliance has attempted to shine some light on this by collecting data from 70 agroecological farms of 20ha and less, in its “A Matter of Scale” study. The results of the survey offer insights into the strengths and weaknesses of small farms, ranging from Urban “Micro” farms to slightly larger mixed and horticultural holdings, in 2015. What are the challenges faced by small scale farms and what advantages do they offer in the modern context (especially post Brexit)?

Break

09:00 - 10:00

Resilient food systems and climate change: the UK’s international role
12:00 - 13:00

Chair: Kerry McCarthy MP (on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology) Speakers: Helena Paul (EcoNexus), Paula Gioia (European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC)) , Olivier De Schutter (IPES-Food) Today, food systems contribute up to one third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Climate Smart Agriculture is promoted as the solution, but in reality is little more than an excuse for business as usual, and the further intensification and consolidation of agriculture in the Global South. Agroecology and investment in local markets has a huge potential to mitigate GHG emissions and support small scale farmers, who provide the food for most people in the world, to adapt and become more resilient to climate change impacts. The French Government is implementing COP22 actions, but the UK’s Department for International Development is dragging its feet and needs to do much more to promote Agroecology and support small scale farmers over the long term. Come and find out about the issues and what international policies the UK should now be advocating. This session marks the start of the APPG on Agroecology’s programme of work examining the UK’s development agenda as it affects agroecological farming in the global south.

Report back from Nyeleni European Food Sovereignty Forum, with the UK Delegation (13.30 – 14.15)
13:00 - 14:30

Speakers: members of the UK Delegation The Nyéléni Europe Forum for Food Sovereignty was held in Romania in October 2016 bringing together the voices of a broad range of people from across Europe with an international delegation that is interested in the future of agriculture and alternatives to neoliberal food policies and practices. In the face of the European referendum result, it is of particular importance that the UK is able to not only reinforce links with people in other European countries, but also reconnect the different constituencies within the UK public to each other. Our intention is not only to inform, but also to critically compare and, with examples, map the progress that the European food sovereignty movement has made since the first Nyéléni Europe Forum, Austria 2011. As we do this we will make an effort to contextualise this in global and historical contexts.

The European Food Sovereignty Movement
14:30 - 15:30

Chair: Adam Payne (Landworkers’ Alliance) Speakers: Patrick Mulvany, Ramona Duminicioiu (Asociația Eco Ruralis (Romania) and European Coordination Via Campesina), Dee Woods (CFGN) The session will look at the history and recent developments of the European food sovereignty movement including a history of the global food sovereignty movement and feedback from the second Nyeleni Forum for food sovereignty held in Cluj-Napoca, Romania this Autumn. We will discuss the answers that food sovereignty offers to the challenges facing our food and farming system, and why global social movements have embraced it as the rallying cry for radical change.

Break

A Place at the Table: Democratic Food Governance and Grassroots Policy Making
16:00 - 17:00

Chair: Corinna Hawkes (Food Research Collaboration) Speakers: Dee Woods (Community Food Growers Network and Granville Community Kitchen), Dee Butterly (The People’s Food Policy), Elli Kontorravdis (Nourish Scotland), Olivier De Schutter, Co-chair of of International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES). How do we realise a food system where everybody has access to enough nutritious, healthy, good quality, sustainably produced, culturally appropriate, safe and fresh food to eat? The speakers will discuss work being done at local, national and international levels to develop food policies based on the Right to Food, Food Sovereignty and Agroecology. The session will explore the essential role of civil society and grassroots organisations in developing food policies and participating in democratic food governance processes.

Break

Launching LandBase! - The new centre for land based skills, and Update from the European Agroecology Learning and Training Network (EALTN)
17:30 - 18:15

Speakers: Dan Powell (LandBase), Chris Maughan (CAWR), Colin Anderson (CAWR) LandBase is a new iniative based at Monkton Wyld in West Dorset. We facilitate experience led, courses, skillshare events and meetings for motivated landworkers, both current and aspiring. LandBase shares its vision with the European Agroecolgy Learning and Training Network (EALTN). Both intiatives support the central processes of learning, education and knowledge sharing which will help the expansion of the practical and political aspects of agroecology in Europe

COUNCIL CHAMBER
Break

09:00 - 10:00

Min-till without glyphosate
10:30 - 11:30

Chair: Liz Bowles (Soil Association) Speakers: Ian Wilkinson (Cotswold Seeds), Andrew Woof (Weston Farm), Andrew Howard, (Nuffield Scholar) More and more farmers are turning to minimum tillage, encouraged by the impressive benefits that are reported for soil life, organic matter, water storage and their bottom line. This is driving a new surge of interest in green manures and cover crops. But most min-till systems rely on glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, to kill the cover before the cash crop goes in. This isn’t an option for organic farmers, and others who avoid herbicides, who generally incorporate cover crops by ploughing. With some EU countries banning glyphosate on health grounds, and supermarkets taking note, it may not be an option for anyone before long. So what are the alternatives? Are there tried and tested ways to do min-till without glyphosate, and what new approaches are organic farmers testing?

Break

A community farm for every community
12:00 - 13:00

Chair: Mark Drewell (The Foresight Group) Speakers: Sebastian Parsons (Biodynamic Land Trust), Peter Volz (Agronauten), Véronique Rioufol (Terre de Liens) The Biodynamic Land Trust, now in its 6th year, and with 300 acres under its stewardship, is looking to support the development of post-industrial agriculture and build community cultural capacity through bringing into common ownership a community farm for every community. We envision an integrated network of land-use hubs that connect initiative groups and community to multiply the positive impact of ecological ethical land use. Building the case for farming futures: food and economic resilience, with Mark Walton, Oli Rodker, Helen Woodcock, Brian Kelly

Agrivillages - new sustainable land-based communities - the first steps
13:00 - 14:30

Chair: James Skinner (New Economics Foundation) Speakers: Ashley Dobbs (Agrivillage), James Shorten (Agrivillage) Our hope is that the general Agrivillage idea will catch on and that Councils will take it up and pursue us with offers of land! We have to think ambitiously if we are to halt the momentum of industrial agriculture and persuade officials in DEFRA and locally that the way forward is through small-scale family size farms and small-holdings with maximum diversification, low energy and high out put. The special factor also in Agrivillages is the encouragement and facilitation of pursuing other income earning activities as well as food production and processing. This way a family can make a decent living even on a very small holding of land, assisted by selling direct to consumers through collaborative marketing.

Real farm trials: low cost, practical research to help your farming business
14:30 - 15:30

Chair: Tom MacMillan (Innovative Farmers, Soil Association) Speakers: Andy Dibben, (Abbey Home Farm), Liz Bowles, (Soil Association) Much of the money for agricultural research goes to developing new products to sell to farmers or answering questions about policy. Apart from initiatives like Innovative Farmers, there is precious little support for farmers to do practical research themselves. Yet farmers do it anyway, and practical experiments by farmers – people trying stuff out – are a crucial source of new techniques and approaches. But how do you make the most of this on your farm, or if you’re an advisor or researcher working with farmers? Can you use the methods? How rigorous do you need your results to be?

Break

Agroforestry: making it happen
16:00 - 17:00

Chair: Ben Raskin (Soil Association) Speakers: Jo Smith, (Organic Research Centre), Tim Pagella, (Bangor University) Agroforestry has huge potential to benefit nature and the rural economy – it could be transformative. The benefits include wind protection, improved drainage, increased fertility, more wildlife and greater overall productivity. But it is still rare in the UK. This session builds on the excellent introduction to agroforestry at last year’s conference, which has since prompted interest in supporting agroforestry from Defra and Natural England.

Break

17:30 - 18:15

LONG ROOM
Break

09:00 - 10:00

Prescriptions for progress: how farms can help save our antibiotics
10:30 - 11:30

Chair: Peter Melchett (Soil Association) Speakers:Coilin Nunan (The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics), Helen Browning (Soil Association), Maria Lindberg (Swedish Animal Health Services) Organic livestock farmers are demonstrating that it is possible (and commercially viable) to farm with less antibiotics. With the antibiotic resistance crisis predicted to kill one person every three seconds by 2050, the wider farming industry must look to and learn from these systems, and integrate existing examples of best-practice into their own operations.

Break

Building the case for farming futures: food and economic resilience
12:00 - 13:00

Speakers: Mark Walton (Shared Assets), Oli Rodker (ELC), Helen Woodcock (Kindling Trust), Brian Kelly (Organic Lea) Over the last year, the project Better Land-Based Economies has followed three food growing projects all trying to access land. This session will introduce some of what has been learned, from working with local authorities and other landowners, through to engaging with the planning system and accessing finance. Join Ecological Land Coop, Kindling Trust, OrganicLea, and Shared Assets to learn more.

Feed me the truth with GM freeze (13.30 – 14.15)
13:00 - 14:30

Speakers: Liz O’Neill (GM Freeze), Raoul Bhambral (GM Freeze) Join GM Freeze to help create a new Feed me the Truth campaign action. Feed me the Truth aims to show supermarkets that their customers don’t want to buy meat, eggs and dairy products that have been GM-fed. It includes a range of campaign actions and this session will create a new one for ORFC delegates to take part in during the conference itself. The session will be fun and creative, with a chance to share ideas, show off your craft skills and dress up as a farm animal.

Open pollinated seed, antiquated relic of a past agrarian age or the vital ingredient for a sustainable farming future?
14:30 - 15:30

Chair: Lawrence Woodward (Whole Organic Plus) Speakers: Gunter Backes (University of Kassel), Iain Tolhurst (Tolhurst Organic Partnership CIC), Catrina Fenton (Garden Organic), David Price (Seed Co-operative) Nine of every ten mouthfuls of food derives from seed. Centuries of farming developed a hugely diverse range of food crops by 1900. Five corporations now supply 75% of the world’s seed. Over 90% of the diversity has been lost and plant breeding techniques are developing faster than most people (and probably the regulators) can keep up with. How do communities take back control of our food supply?

Break

Access to land and Community Supported Agriculture
16:00 - 17:00

Chair: Peter Volz (Agronauten, Germany/Access to Land Network) Speakers: Steph Wetherell (Sims Hill CSA, Beacon Farms), Véronique Rioufol (Terre de liens, France/ Access to Land Network), Jocelyn Parot (International Network for CSA Urgenci) This workshop will look at the various ways in which Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is linked to the issue of access to land for agroecological farming. E.g., how do CSAs enable land access in an increasingly difficult market? What relation do land access initiatives have with CSAs? Examples from Europe, including the UK, will be presented and there will be space to provide further experiences from the participants.

Break

17:30 - 18:15

ST. ALDATES ROOM
Break

09:00 - 10:00

The Absolute Importance of Microdairies: a workshop
10:30 - 11:30

Chair: Sophia Morgan-Swinhoe (PFLA dairy manager) Speakers: Simon Fairlie (Monkton Wyld), Robert Fraser (Herefordshire farmer), Nick Snelgar (Maple Field Milk CIC), Christine Page (Smiling Tree Farm), Fiona Provan (The Calf at Foot Dairy) Interested in starting a microdairy? A landowner, with land to make available for a microdairy? Already running a microdairy and wanting to find ways of adding value? Bring your questions and solutions to this workshop.

Break

Rewilding in Britain: restoring our life support systems
12:00 - 13:00

Chair: Rebecca Wrigley (Rewilding Britain) Speakers: Derek Gow (specialist wildlife consultant), Christopher Price (CLA), Patrick Begg (National Trust), Steve Carver (University of Leeds), Charlie Burrell (Knepp Castle Estate), Robin Milton (Exmoor grassland farmer) As pressures on land use rise, there is a danger of making false choices between producing food, developing land and caring for the environment. This debate will explore how we might achieve a more balanced pattern of land use in Britain, whereby a healthy natural environment includes space for wild nature, as well as production of high quality food.

13:00 - 14:30

A farmer’s perspective on improving livestock health using a homeopathic approach
14:30 - 15:30

Chair: Christine Lees (Homeopathy at Wellie Level), Speakers: John Newman (Abbey Home Farm), Lynnie Hutchison (Dorset farm), Chris Gosling (Wiltshire farm) Since 2001, Homeopathy at Wellie Level (HAWL) has taught its award winning Farm Homeopathy Course to hundreds of farmers. Three course graduates explain how they have successfully incorporated homeopathy into their health management strategy, subsequently reducing their dependence on antibiotics and other conventional drugs, and significantly improving the health of their stock.

Break

Increasing plant health through reproduction of beneficial microbes - Biofertilisers and soil amendments for healthy living systems
16:00 - 17:00

Chair: Matt Dunwell (Ragmans Farm) Speakers: Juanfran Lopez (Ragmans Farm), Ruben Borge (Rockin Soils) What are biofertilisers for and how do they work to build healthy systems? Juanfran will be talking about how we can provide on farm fertility and resilience without external inputs, using easily replicated home-made tools for farmers. Juanfran has been running trials for a year at Ragmans Farm, this is an opportunity to share how to apply this technology in a temperate climate. Compost can be applied to the home garden, but home grown fertility is hard to produce at farm scale. Mineral biofertilisers offer the opportunity to scale up the use of soil biology to provide broadscale fertility at very little cost. Ruben will cover the practical production and application of biofertilisers to build system health, looking at case studies from the Netherlands, Spain, Ethiopia and China.

Break

17:30 - 18:15

 

Day 2: 5th January 2017

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MAIN HALL
Is organic really healthier? ORGANIC AND LOW-INPUT FARMING, FOOD QUALITY AND HEALTH
09:00 - 10:00

Chair: Peter Melchett (Policy Director, Soil Association) Speakers: Anne-Marie Mayer (independent nutritionist), Marcin Baranski (NEFG, Newcastle University), Chuck Benbrook (Benbrook Consulting), Carlo Leifert (NEFG, Newcastle University) Consumer perceptions that organic and low input (e.g. grass-fed dairy and meat products) foods have a higher nutritional quality are a main driver for demand. However, although recent studies suggest that there are nutritionally relevant differences between organic and conventional foods there is still considerable controversy about whether or not these differences result in health benefits. The session will review and critically discuss current knowledge on (a) historical changes in food composition, (b) composition differences between organic, low-input and conventional foods and (c) potential health impacts of organic food consumption.

Break

Farming fit for the future
10:30 - 11:30

Chair: Shaun Spiers (CPRE) Speakers: Hannah Freeman (Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust), Stephen Briggs (Royal Agricultural Society of England), David Brass(The Lakes Free Range Egg Co), Peter Lundgren (Lincolnshire farmer) This debate will bring together representatives from across the farming sector to explore the challenges and opportunities in developing a healthy natural environment that can be enjoyed by and that protects the livelihoods of farmers. We will use the themes laid out in our vision Farming Fit for the Future as a basis for discussion and hope to build momentum behind a farming policy that supports both people and nature. This session will bring together Wildlife and Countryside Link, Woodland Trust and

Break

The importance of being radical
12:00 - 13:00

Chair: Lucy Ford (Oxford Brookes University) Speakers: Ian Rappel (Socialist Ecologist), Camilla Royle (King’s College London), Colin Tudge (Real Farming Trust) ORFC – being a counter conference – is an act of radicalism in itself. But what does it mean to be radical and what are the advantages of taking a radical approach towards agriculture and enlightened farming? This session discusses these issues. It examines the need for a radical interpretation of agriculture in the Anthropocene, and the need for individual enlightened farmers to tie their work to broader struggles for social justice and environmental sustainability.

Lunch
13:00 - 14:30

Using social and ecological systems theory to build resilient local food networks
14:30 - 15:30

Speakers: Simon Platten (Tamar Grow Local CIC), Rachel Kaleta (Eden Project Learning) Tamar Grow Local uses social and ecological systems theory to inform its work to increase local food production. Here we aim to discuss: adaptive cycles as a framework to describe the rich history of horticultural production in the Tamar Valley; construction of a local food network founded on learning from ecosystems research – Tamar Grow Local case study; building greater resilience into community food enterprises and the networks which support them.

Break

Closing Plenary: where do we go from here?
16:00 - 17:00

ASSEMBLY ROOM
Nurturing nature within farming
09:00 - 10:00

Chair: Patrick Holden (Sustainable Food Trust) Speakers: Ian Boyd (Cotswold Hill Farmer), Ian Dillon (RSPB Hope Farm), Jenny Phelps (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, Gloucestershire) Sustainable intensification suggests that we should give nature a chance only at the margins, to compensate for the damage done by machinery and chemicals. How can we integrate respect and support for the natural environment within the whole farming cycle rather than in separate, protected islands – and does it pay? Farmers will report on how they have significantly increased the biodiversity on their farms whilst continuing to generate revenue.

Break

Real food from real farmers
10:30 - 11:30

Chair: Jamie Pike (The Canteen, Bristol) Speakers: Dagan James (Broughton Water Buffalo), James Swift (Trealy Farm Charcuterie), Jonathan Chapman (holistic grazing farm) In modern day agriculture, farmers tend to be commodity producers. These farms have no say on the value of their produce and are the last in the food chain to see any profit. During this session you will hear from real farmers in the UK that have broken away from mainstream farming and are producing real food for real people. This session will inspire with innovative methods of food production and will highlight the challenges of getting a new enterprise off the ground.

Break

Companion cropping
12:00 - 13:00

Chair: Jonty Brunyee (PFLA) Speakers: Andrew Howard (Nuffield Scholar and farmer), Ian Wilkinson (Cotswold Seeds) Companion cropping and intercropping has the potential to increase crop yields by up to 30% whilst allowing for a reduction in farm inputs. There is no blueprint for success since the crop selection will depend upon individual farm characteristics and there is limited research since there are few commercial inputs involved. Two farmers will share their experience with arable and pasture species.

Soap Box
13:00 - 14:30

Changing diets - improving the nation’s pulse rate
14:30 - 15:30

Chair: Peter Brown (Tablehurst Farm) Speakers: Nick Saltmarsh (Hodmedods), Martin Wolfe (Organic Research Centre), Mark Lea (Shropshire farmer) Sustainable patterns of farming and healthy lifestyles mean our national diet must inevitably change. Increasingly, protein crops will play an important part in our weekly shop, but how well will tomorrow’s farmers be placed to take advantage of these opportunities? Meeting the challenge will require a collaborative effort, involving those involved in research, plant breeding, innovative crop husbandry and market development. This is an opportunity to learn about the progress being made and some of the barriers that need to be overcome from those at the vanguard of this pioneering work.

Break

16:00 - 17:00

OLD LIBRARY
Do you dig it?
09:00 - 10:00

Chair: Ashley Wheeler (Trill Farm Garden) Speakers: Niels Cornfield (specialising in soils and whole farm design), Charles Dowding (no dig specialist), Iain Tolhurst (organic consultant) This session brings together three very different approaches to growing vegetables. The session will be mainly focussed around a discussion of the different growing systems. This will be based on cultivation techniques, tools, machinery, biodiversity and soil improvements. After short introductions from the panel the session will mainly centre around questions from the audience.

Break

Farming outside the CAP – Perspectives on British farming after Brexit
10:30 - 11:30

Chair: Adam Payne (LWA) Speakers: Stein Brubæk (Norwegian Small Farms Union), Ramona Duminicioiu, Simon Fairlie (Monkton Wyld) The session will explore the threats and opportunities that Brexit holds for small-scale and family farms in the UK. We will hear how 10 years of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has affected life for Romanian producers – the biggest peasant community in Europe with over four million farmers; how Norway has managed its agricultural policy in relationship to the EU; what the Landworkers’ Alliance thinks we should do about post-brexit British Agricultural Policy.

Break

Hear from fellow farmers: tech and tools for a resilient farm
12:00 - 13:00

Chair: Abby Rose (Farmerama Radio) Speakers: Louise MacDonald (New MacDonald Farm), Stephen Briggs (sustainable farming consultancy), Will Davenport (Davenport Vineyards), Nick Green (Incredible Farm) We hear from farmers and growers about how they use technologies and tools to help farm agro-ecologically. We ask what are the best tools for real farming to flourish? We will hear about tools to help sell produce, for use in the field and for sharing knowledge. We will also discuss what tech and tools we want to embrace and demand for real farming to thrive.

Open Space
13:00 - 14:30

The Breadline - exploring the politics of Food Pricing
14:30 - 15:30

Chair: Humphrey Lloyd (Edible Futures) Speakers: George Dunn (TFA), Naomi Millner (Bristol University), Lynne Davis (Street Goat) How much we pay for food is contentious. Whilst the expense of organic or smallholder produce might more accurately reflect the cost of production, rising food prices hit the poor more than the rich. So how do we balance farmers’ rights to earn a living from food and everyone’s right to affordable it? And how does the retail sector and food supply chain also impact what proportion of your income you spend on food?

Break

16:00 - 17:00

COUNCIL CHAMBER
130 years old and splendid: crofting‘s contributions to new generations of farmers
09:00 - 10:00

130 years old and splendid: crofting‘s contributions to new generations of farmers
09:00 - 10:00

Break

Heritage cereals: historic crops for a more sustainable future
10:30 - 11:30

Chair: John Letts (heritage harvest ltd.) Speakers: Andrew Wilkinson (Gilchesters Organics), David Howell (Offley Mill), Michael Hansen (Bread for Life), Tom Nicholson (The Oxford Artisan Distillery), Holly Tiffen (Grown in Totnes) Conventional cereal production is unsustainable and damaging to human health and the environment. Growing organically is a clear step forward, but modern organic varieties are unsuitable for low-input systems and unreliable in a changing climate. Genetically-diverse ‘populations’ of heritage grains developed using evolutionary plant breeding methods provide a more reliable, profitable and flavourful alternative to conventional (and future GM) varieties. Speakers in this session will examine the origins of heritage cereals and discuss their use in artisan baking, brewing and distilling

Break

How low can you go? Can a neonic ban prompt innovation in reducing insecticide use?
12:00 - 13:00

The latest on synthetic biology, the new genetic engineering breeding techniques, and gene drives (13.30 – 14.15)
13:00 - 14:30

Speakers: Helena Paul (EcoNexus), Dr Ricarda Steinbrecher (EcoNexus) At ORFC 2016, EcoNexus presented on the implications of new GM technologies (“New Breeding Techniques, NBTs) and synthetic biology. For 2017 we offer an update on a rapidly developing field and its questions and implications for agriculture. The last year has seen major developments of these techniques, especially the gene and genome editing techniques (eg so-called CRISPR/Cas). Moreover, commercial interests and a number of governments are seeking to have them excluded from any regulation, especially from GMO regulation, and for that purpose they are launching major initiatives to present them as safe.

Using agroecology to enhance arable production: sharing knowledge from organic research and practice in the OKNetArable project
14:30 - 15:30

Chair: Dr Susanne Padel (Organic Research Centre) Speakers: Mark Measures (Organic Research Centre), Dominic Amos (Organic Research Centre), James Jones (Organic farmer and consultant ), Katie Bliss (Organic Research Centre) Moving towards low-input and organic production systems poses questions among arable farmers, for example about how to deal with weeds and manage soil fertility. This session will address some of the key challenges faced by organic arable farmers across Europe and share some ideas that farmers in the OK-Net-Arable.eu project are testing to overcome them.

Break

16:00 - 17:00

LONG ROOM
Building resilience: addressing challenges in the food and farming system?
09:00 - 10:00

Chair: Helen Browning (Soil Association) Speakers: Christopher Price (CLA), Tim Benton (Leeds University and Chatham House), Graeme Willis (CPRE) This session explores environmental, economic and social challenges and how at this critical time policy and funding could be changed to strengthen the resilience of the wider food and farming system. Panellists will consider a range of issues such as natural resources, trade, markets, diversity and climate change and their relevance to policy and farming practice. Short talks will be followed by opportunity for questions, comments and debate.

Break

Scaling up permaculture to farm scale
10:30 - 11:30

Chair: Andy Goldring (The Permaculture Association) Speakers: Tomas Remiarz (author of Forest Gardening in Practice), Hannah Thorogood (permaculture practitioner), Niels Corfield (Edible Cities). This session will offer tools that land managers could go away and start using within permaculture projects. It will explore how and if permaculture can be scaled up and worked in arable, mixed and grazing operations. It will also give practical examples of how species-rich polycultures can be integrated into market gardens, orchards and land-based microbusinesses.

Break

The future of livestock farming post Brexit
12:00 - 13:00

Chair: Vicki Hird (Sustain) Speakers: David Baldock (IEEP), Philip Lymbery (CIWF), Guy Watson (Riverford), Clare Oxborrow (Friends of the Earth) What can be done to steer livestock farming in a more sustainable direction in a post Brexit world? Should farmers play a role in the less and better meat debate? This session will tackle these challenging issues, looking at practical steps being taken by farmers as well as ideas for a new UK policy approach.

Roundtable and workshop on next steps in a creating a People's Food Policy (13.30 – 14.15)
13:00 - 14:30

Speakers: Dee Butterly (People’s Food Policy steering group) The People’s Food Policy steering group will present the work we have done on creating a People’s Food Policy and discuss the draft document so far. We are inviting all attendees and patricians at the ORFC to bring their creativity and expertise to this session and contribute ideas and suggestions for the next steps of the People’s Food Policy work. The purpose of this round table: discussions and brainstorming session is to gather as much expertise and ideas from all of you at the ORFC to give input into how we will shape and steer the next phase of our work, and to give feedback on our policy proposals so far.

Farming and metaphysics
14:30 - 15:30

Chair: Colin Tudge Speakers: Justine Huxley (St Ethelburga’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation), Tom Gorringe (Professor Emeritus of Theology at the University of Exeter), Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg (New North London Masorti Synagogue) The Agrarian Renaissance that is now so urgently needed must be seen as part of a cross-the- board re-think of everything – science, the economy, governance, morality. All are rooted in the end in metaphysics, which asks “the ultimate questions” – but has gone missing from western thinking.

Break

16:00 - 17:00

ST ALDATES ROOM
Land for what and land for who
09:00 - 10:00

Speakers: Kate Swade (Shared Assets) and Robin Grey (Community Food Growers Network) Land plays a central but unmentioned role in our country today: widening inequality, a chronic housing crisis, dysfunctional food system, poor public health and impending climate disasters. We’ve been bringing people together to talk about how land ownership and control is central to all these issues. Join us to hear about what we’ve learned and to continue the discussion.

Break

Understanding fats
10:30 - 11:30

Speakers: Richard Young (Sustainable Food Trust), Durwin Banks (The Linseed Farm) Fats are some of the most basic raw materials used to create new life. The brain is a big lump of fat (around 60%) so there is plenty of reason to think about the fats that we eat. There is growing evidence that consumption of the wrong types of fats causes epigenetic change in humans that can affect our mental as well as physical health. Farmers are the producers of fats of all kinds, so as the primary producers we should have some knowledge of what we are doing. Yet the general state of knowledge about what is a good or bad fat, and why, is still a mystery to most people.

Break

Agroecology: how do we measure its social impact?
12:00 - 13:00

Speakers: Luke Owen (CAWR), Paola Guzman (CAWR), Moya Kneafsey (CAWR)​, Chelsea Marshall (Scotland the Bread) It is widely acknowledged that being able to measure ‘impact’ is critical to building the evidence base for agroecology and community food initiatives. This session is an opportunity to critically reflect on the work that The Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR), Coventry University have been doing with the Real Farming Trust (RFT) around measuring social impact in UK agroecological enterprises. The purpose of this collaboration is to co-develop an appropriate toolkit that can be used by enterprises and businesses in the agri-food sector to assess their social impact, community resilience and food democracy. CAWR’s work is a first step in determining what an impact toolkit for agroecology might look like, and a timely opportunity to discuss the issues and challenges that creating such a tool poses.

13:00 - 14:30

Needing funds? Tired of having grant applications turned down? Could social investment be right for you?
14:30 - 15:30

Chair: Olivia Bowen (Castlefield) Speaker: Tim Crabtree (Schumacher College), Robert Fraser (Real Farming Trust and a farmer), Michael Norton (CIVA), Danyal Sattar (Joseph Rowntree Foundation). Whether you are just starting out — a CSA perhaps needing funds for a grower; or have been going for a while and are wondering about community investment in the form of shares; or think you’re ready to take out a loan — come and put your funding needs to a panel of experts. We’d like to hear from you.

Break

16:00 - 17:00

 

The full ORFC 2017 programme can be downloaded here as a PDF.

If you would like to know what was on offer at previous conferences, you can view the 2016 programme here

If you have any questions, please contact me (Nessie Reid, ORFC Manager) at nessie@orfc.org.uk

Our ticket philosophy…

In order for conference tickets to continue at their current rate, we ask that everyone – including speakers – buy a ticket. For some this might seem a bit strange, if not unfair for speakers, but it means tickets are affordable for everyone. But this is not the main reason. Our programme is devised by our participants rather than for them, so rather than a ‘we speak, you listen’ conference, it is more of a collective effort which brings practitioners from all dimensions of the food and farming world together, to share a much needed vision for an agrarian renaissance.

We also offer a space for all involved in “real farming” to come together at the beginning of the year, to meet, reflect, plan. So in addition to the conference programme, the ORFC offers rooms for meetings as well as networking opportunities and evening entertainment. We hope the conference continues to flourish and evolve for many years to come, and this can only happen with the input and support of all the ORFC delegates and speakers.

We look forward to welcoming you to ORFC 2018!

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