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27 November 2022

Behind the Scenes: the Making of the ORFC 2023 Programme

The ORFC Online Programme is live! ORFC Programme Coordinator, Hetty, talks us through the process of bringing together over 70 sessions with partners and farming communities from more than 100 countries.

After months of preparation, we’re excited to release the programme for our first ever hybrid conference. We take a unique approach: combining an open call for session proposals and collaborative programming with a range of global and UK-based partners.

Work for the programme began during the July heatwave, in the Oxford Friends Meeting House, with doors swung open, and piles and piles of brilliant submissions. There was a lot to get excited about: whether that was farmers keen to mobilise around the new threats of gene editing, explorations of more climate friendly sheep farming, or craft cider and the revival traditional English apple orchards. Reading through the submissions for our global programme, we were struck by the wealth of proposals sharing experimental work in building a better farming future across the globe: from experiments in alternative models of certification for would-be organic farmers in Ecuador, to practical efforts to enact collective models of land ownership and stewardship in France, Belgium, and Denmark.

In collaboration with our global partners La Via Campesina, PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP), the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), and Real Food Media in the United States, we’ve spent the last few months developing an exciting online programme that tackles some of the most urgent questions in our food systems and for small-scale farmers worldwide. For our Oxford rooms, we’ve worked with Landworkers’ Alliance, Pasture for Life, and the Soil Association to develop brilliant worker-focused and practical sessions in the Woodshed, the Assembly Room, and the Old Library.

Browse the ORFC 2023 Programme

On both the global and UK scale, it is a difficult time that can feel overshadowed by ecological devastation, the frustrations of climate diplomacy, the persistence of outrageous inequality, and the daily challenges of economic and energy crises. We were struck, though, by how much positivity and motivation the membership of the food and farming movement brought to the table through their proposals and ideas for ORFC 2023.

Farming can offer hope, not just for a more ecologically viable food future, but also for a more open and egalitarian social future. The farm can act as the centre for positive social change in manifold ways. Looking at the in-person programme today, the variety is striking, with sessions coming at the question from every imaginable angle: from the ways working farms can create space for neurodiversity, offering a safe and welcoming place to interact with animals, soil, and fresh food; to exploring how to build a radical Jewish land justice movement in the UK and find joy, healing, and connection through land for diasporic communities.

Strategies for building a more desirable future begin in the soil, on the farm, and in the hands of food and farming workers as keystones of our societies.

Now that the programme is ready, we can’t wait to see it come to life in Oxford and online, and to join together, draw strength, and celebrate the growing real food and farming movement.

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