We aim to:
• Continue to be radical.
The purpose of the ORFC is to help to build a viable alternative to the status quo, based on agriculture of an “enlightened” kind. To achieve this, we must of course discuss appropriate ways of farming and the practicalities of marketing – but we cannot achieve what’s needed just by thinking ad hoc. We need to define very clearly what it is that we are really trying to achieve (matters of morality and metaphysics); what kind of economy is needed to support real farming; what kind of governance is needed to provide such an economy; and the kind of science that is truly helpful. Rethinking from first principles is what “radical” ought to mean. The whole endeavour should lead us towards what has been called an “Agrarian Renaissance”.
• Offer practical and progressive solutions for farmers and growers.
Above all, a Real Farming Conference is intended for farmers, with though a rich mix of scientists, academics, policy makers, conservationists and other NGOs, and people who love and value good local food. The conference should therefore aim to have 50%+ farmers as its target (although we are aiming to grow this to 60%).
• Set the right tone.
While the content of the conference must be deadly serious, the tone of the conference is friendly, inclusive and non-hierarchical. There is no sense of top-down dispensation and the conference sessions are suggested and run by the participants. This is achieved by an editorial policy that steers a course between open forum (everyone in theory is free to come and speak) and a strong sense of moral and intellectual direction.
• Offer a space and time for networking.
Feedback shows that this is one of the most important aspects of the conference, and we must continue to provide the time and space for networking, albeit with the conference being online.
• Promote real farming to a wider audience.
This means ensuring the voice of real farming and real farmers is heard by ‘conventional’ farmers, policy makers and the wider public through an active communications strategy. It also means session content (audio, video and slides) is recorded and made available after the event online.
• Be inclusive.
This means making the conference affordable to farmers and continuing to grow and develop strategic partnerships with other organisations to deliver key themes at the conference. It also means a commitment to the advancement of equality and diversity by ensuring gender equality (e.g., on the panels), and encouraging diversity (e.g., through bursaries).
• Be financially independent
This means fundraising ethically and in accordance with the Real Farming Trust’s values, and ensuring transparency about who funds the conference. No funder should be able to exert undue influence and there should be no commercial agenda, either from the funders or from the speakers.