The Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) was started in 2010 by Colin Tudge and Ruth West (founders of the Campaign for Real Farming) and agricultural writer, Graham Harvey, to highlight the alternatives to conventional farming and to offer a different kind of farming conference.
Working with partners, ORFC brings together practising farmers and growers with scientists and economists, activists and policy-makers every January to delve deep into farming practices and techniques as well as to address the bigger questions relating to our food and farming system.
The radical and inclusive programme is suggested and developed by delegates and is the result of a call for submissions that goes out in May. In 2023, proposals and ideas are invited both for the in-person conference in Oxford as well as the global online programme (available in 7 languages).
The scope of the call for sessions is broad and includes ideas and proposals which consider farm practice, policy developments, food sovereignty, climate justice, biodiversity, animal welfare, access to land, racial inequity in the food system, spiritual and ethical questions, knowledge sharing and communications. The selection of the proposals takes into account the ORFC’s guiding principles, which can be seen here.
Conference tickets generally go on sale in October and sell out very quickly each year. Building on the success of the ORFC Global online programme launched in 2021 and continued in 2022, ORFC 2023 will be a fully hybrid event. We’re returning to the much missed (since Covid) in-person conference in Oxford but we’ll also be offering global online sessions alongside it, to continue to bring the agroecology movement together across the world.
ORFC Founder, Ruth West, said:
“The point of ORFC is not to attack the status quo but to look ahead: to ask what the world really needs, and what’s possible, and to show what really can be done. Always on the agenda, or thereabouts, is the dream of Agrarian Renaissance: to restore agriculture and all that goes with it to its proper place at the heart of the economy, and indeed of all our lives. Agriculture at present, and farmers, are marginalised. The thing that matters most for humankind is low on the global agenda.
From the outset, ORFC had a buzz. Farmers and scientists and activists and others came together in support of real farming and new relationships and initiatives were formed. Crucially, it has always been the participants who provide the programme and the sessions reflect their diversity, ranging from the intricacies of soil microbiology to new kinds of marketing, setting up a micro-dairy to the value of introducing mob grazing and agroforestry to the farm; from the joys and tribulations of crofting to the kind of economic structure we need to support the kind of farming and marketing that we need. It also considered the underlying morality of farming and the overwhelming need for an enlightened land policy. It is this diversity of participants and interests and concerns that we believe keeps ORFC alive and growing.”
ORFC is a project of The Real Farming Trust. Registered charity number: 1061607. Registered company number: 3336839. Registered address: 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AX.
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