In this session, three writers, researchers and activists discuss ways to build thriving, regenerative local farm economies across Britain in the present environmental and social crisis.
Chris Smaje draws on lessons from agricultural history and contemporary political ecology to show how bottom-up political activism might deliver smallholder-based land reform in Britain, briefly illustrating his analysis in relation to Wales.
Guy Shrubsole examines how farmland in England is concentrated in the hands of a few, and how it can be opened up to more people looking to grow food – from the late-19th-century countermovement that produced County Farms and allotments, to the Community Right to Buy in 21st-century Scotland. Guy will discuss possible reforms to inheritance tax breaks for agricultural land, the pros and cons of Land Value Tax, and how councils might be persuaded to transfer land assets to communities rather than flog them off to private developers.
Elise Wach will discuss the relationships between land rights and the realisation of agroecological food systems. Specifically, she will discuss how the advent of capitalism led to a shift from diverse and sufficient food systems to monograzing in the Scottish uplands. She'll also discuss the potentials and gaps of recent Scottish land reform in relation to breaking from capitalism and supporting agroecology, and what we can learn from it.
This year more than any has shown how resilient agroecological farms are. Many farms in China's CSA network have performed very well during the pandemic, both economically as well as being responsive to the needs of the consumer who realised the essential necessity to eat good, healthy food to boost their immunity in the face of the "pandemic enemy”. The effect of this is that producer-consumer relationships have grown and changed in that the bond is now much closer.
Being able to eat organic, healthy food that has gone from "farm to table" in 24 hours has engendered a deep mutual gratitude in CSA members. The pandemic generated a fighting spirit on the side of both producers and consumers. This brought out the essence of community supported agriculture which is that the relationship between farmers and consumers is stable, mutually supportive, and collaborative.
Join Shi Yan, an organic pioneer and the founder of the first CSA in China. She now runs Shared Harvests, a CSA which now provides food for over a thousand families in Beijing.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 120
Nature is a key stakeholder in any farm business, but how do you account for the assets it provides? Correct and supportive management of nature can actually improve the business bottom line. After significant research and analysis of over 80 farm businesses, Chris Clark and the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) team will lead you through this Maximum Sustainable Output (MSO) approach showing how nature is inextricably linked to your business and how these ’free assets’ can be maximised without detriment to the land and nature. New evidence will also be shared about ‘low to no management’ of nature scenarios and the possible consequences it may have on your business. Join Chris and NFFN at this interactive workshop on Nature Means Business to learn more.
Communities globally are facing unprecedented strain from climate collapse, soil degradation and commercial pressures. However, a return to older varieties of crops vital to the health and wellbeing of growers and their communities has presented a promising and enriching path forward. Drawing from grassroots experiences around the world from farmers in South Africa, China, and Wales this session explores the opportunities our heritage grains present to us to reconnect with more resilient, diverse crops and vibrant traditions through a discussion of millet, rice, and oats and the people who grow them. Although climates, conditions, and situations may differ, the growers offer universal advice on reviving connections to these life-giving grains and aim to inspire similar action in other communities.
Farming for 1.5°C is an independent inquiry that was set up in 2019 to find consensus between a panel of scientists, farmers and environmental NGOs on how Scottish farming can contribute to keeping global warming to no more than 1.5°C. The panel was innovative in its make-up as well as its ways of working, interested in building relationships and respect amongst its members and those providing evidence. All of the members went through a journey of one sort or another, culminating in reports that were backed by the Soil Association and NFU Scotland and picked up by media across the UK, referenced by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary and labelled by farmers as “essential reading”.
This session will be a conversation between the two co-chairs of the Farming for 1.5°C Inquiry, a climate activist and a beef and sheep farmer. The panel will talk about the pros and cons of the process, as well as the outcomes and the response to them. What can we learn from this integrated way of working?
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 12
The mainstream food system needs to be turned on its head and replaced with one that is good for growers, easy on the planet and great for all our futures. Join Better Food Traders for three train-the-trainer sessions and become an ambassador for Know Better Food, a peer-learning method that supports behaviour change for a better food system.
If you are a UK delegate who is part of a small ethical food business, these workshops are for you. They will help you with word-of-mouth marketing and customer loyalty and there’s freedom to make the approach your own.
You will learn engaging online facilitator techniques using Mural, Zoom, jamboards, thought maps, buddy framework and blob trees plus more…
There are only 12 spaces available, and participants must make sure they are available for all three 90-minute sessions at the same time on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Nitrogen is a challenge that requires international action. Hear from the international experts on the grand challenge we face, and from activists seeking to put nitrogen at the top of the climate agenda in the build up to COP26.
Nitrogen is a grand challenge for agriculture. The climate impact of nitrogen has been overlooked for too long. Meeting the aim to feed the human population adequate diets along with the ambition to keep global warming below 1.5C mean radical action on nitrogen is urgent.
Making the change we need to see means combined action in multiple areas, which include reducing reliance on – and use of – synthetic fertilisers; shifting global diets away from high meat consumption; and incentivising farm practices that are based on sustainable nutrient management, such as agroecology.
This session brings together international experts who outline the scale of the nitrogen challenge for farming; small-scale farmers from the global south to explore the challenges and opportunities around managing nitrogen, and; activists working to achieve global commitments to reduce nitrogen excess at the international climate conference, COP26.
The availability of active nitrogen is a key issue in the research project the Soil Association is currently undertaking with partners in the UK and France.
Smallholder farmers in the global south represent some of the world’s most financially underserved communities. Often these farmers struggle to balance subsistence farming with the desire to invest in cash crops that would allow for increased income. By contrast, institutional and other private ethical, social and impact investors find it difficult to identify and support investment-ready smallholder farmer pipelines, primarily using private debt and private equity. Consequently, the tendency has been to invest in mid-sized and large operations. Are the capital markets well-positioned to support small agroecology enterprises? How can the responsible investment community work with local stakeholders to develop and support pipelines of agroecological partners?
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 50
The conditions imposed by COVID-19 have acted as a magnifying glass on our societies and food systems, laying bare existing dysfunctions and inequalities but also sites of resilience. From the early months of the pandemic, we have seen an impressive response on the ground from food producers to retailers, communities and neighbours, who got food to where it was needed in immediate reaction to shock. Against the backdrop of longer-term problems locked into our food system, their adaptations emerge like desire lines – an urban planning phenomenon where collective bottom-up problem solving defies unhelpful structures – toward a resilient, sustainable and fair food system. As we face the task of ‘building back better’ in a new normal, now is the time to reflect and avoid blindly following the well-worn path to a place we don’t want to return to. What can we learn about resilience from the innovation and solidarity of those who hold the food system together amidst the chaos?
Using examples from across the UK to trace transformation across new behaviour, innovative logistics, material adaptation and fundamental values, this engaging workshop is for actors whose steps formed collective desire lines across the food landscape to learn together and reflect on the legacy of their initiatives.