With global hunger likely to double as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, the need for food systems transformation has never been more urgent. Across five continents, Agroecology Fund partners have been on the frontlines of relief efforts, mobilizing powerful grassroots networks to strengthen long-term food security and resilience. The Agroecology Fund launched an Emergency Fund to support 59 such community-led responses to Covid-19. A panel of grassroots organizations will share their strategies to provide healthy, agroecologically-produced food for rural and urban food systems.
Including trees in farm management offers opportunities to future-proof our farms against the effects of global climate change. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent throughout the world. 60% of UK farm businesses have been affected by severe weather over the last 10 years. Soil degradation and loss are evident as wet winters carry our topsoil onto roads. Annually, flood damage costs the farming sector £1.9 billion, with a rise to £2.4 billion expected by 2050. We hear how growing trees can improve the profitability of your farm by helping to protect your soils during wet and dry weather.
At last year’s World Food Day, UN Secretary General António Guterres announced that he would convene a UN Food Systems Summit in the fall of 2021. Little did anyone know that the stakes would become so acute so fast. The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly become a hunger crisis. At this moment of upheaval, what gets decided in the next few years will determine the path for global food governance for decades to come. Guterres‘s goal is to host an event that will push the world to transform food systems with a particular emphasis on eliminating hunger and malnutrition. But to over 500 peasant-led social movements, food worker unions, and human rights activists, the UN Secretary General’s call reflected an attempt by the private sector to take over global food politics. These claims were not unfounded
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food will discuss the different visions surrounding food systems: namely agroecology versus “sustainable intensive agriculture” and the international political landscape around those visions. He will describe the unfortunately marginal role that human rights have played during the Summit preparation so far. And he will outline why he thinks people at the Oxford Real Farming Conference can make a difference and how they may use their collective power to change the world’s food systems.
Biodiversity is critical to sustainable farming. Evidence from long-term field experiments (50 – 170 years) suggest that the central relationship between microbes, organic carbon and soil structure determines soil system performance. Detailed work at Rothamsted led by Prof. Andrew Neal is demonstrating the strong relationship between organic carbon, structure and the hydrodynamic behaviour of soil. Among other sources, farmyard manure plays an important role in managing soil systems. The experiments also demonstrate significantly higher levels of organic matter/carbon under grass – with the associated benefits of increased soil porosity and hydraulic conductivity.
Dr Felicity Crotty is researching the implications of land use on the soil food web for its biodiversity and its relationship to soil health in both arable and livestock systems. Her current research involves the monitoring of earthworms as the emblem of soil health and seeking to identify linkages between healthy soil and healthy food.
Since time immemorial, farmers have recognised the vital role that grazed pasture plays in rebuilding the health and fertility of the soil following the disruption caused by cultivation. As researchers continue to understand and explain why, Prof Neal and Dr Crotty will share their recent findings.
Frances Moore Lappe’s bestselling book, Diet for a Small Planet was published in 1971 and taught America the social and personal significance of a new way of eating. Today, it remains just as relevant, exploring such critical themes as the connection between food and democracy.
Sharing her personal evolution and how this groundbreaking book changed her own life, world-renowned food expert Frances Moore Lappé offers ORFC delegates the opportunity to share in her experiences of meeting farmers and food producers around the world. And what the last 50 years have taught her.
To understand food sovereignty, we must understand the current issue of power at the root of our food system. Indigenous leaders, Chris Newman and Jo Jandi not only recognise the centralisation of power but are also actively working to redistribute power in their local communities. How? By democratising and embedding food sovereignty into our food system. Chris brings his experience from Sylvanaqua Farms in the Northern Neck of Virginia, and Jo Jandi brings his experience with the Pun Pun Center for Self-Reliance and Thamturakit in Northern Thailand. The two are finding ways to address the local nuances that come with being in different places while finding common ground as they’re still fighting the same battle against the domination of industrial agriculture. With Chris’ focus on securing land for Indigenous and Black-American farmers, and Jo Jandai’s work to fight against neoliberal policies, the two will be able to share in their common experience and learn from one another.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 250
How can we bring about people’s control of technology? How can grassroots activists and popular movements take on the might of corporations who wish to impose new technologies on us? This workshop session, in collaboration with ETC Group, is an opportunity for activists from different communities around the world to connect and learn from each other’s experiences in struggles about technologies in the food system. What were the lessons for current times that can be learnt from opposing Terminator Technology in the early 2000’s? How can popular movements shape those future technologies that might affect them? The discussion will start with a description of work by the Latin America Network for the Social Assessment of Technology (TECLA) by Verónica Villa.
As power in the food system is increasingly globalised and concentrated, we need strategies to hold corporations to account for the human rights abuses taking place in the fields growing produce that supply our supermarket shelves, and improve the working conditions or agricultural labourers. Join us and hear from leaders discussing social movement strategies to mobilise workers power to defend their rights in the face of multinationals in the food and agriculture system.
In this session, we will hear from the USA Coalition of Immokalee Workers and how they have reduced exploitation, improved pay and instituted union led standards and audits by public mobilisation against the companies that ultimately benefit and control the market they supply. We will also hear about the Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations. With LVC members in Europe, we will also discuss ways in which these models can be implemented in European supply chains that rely on the exploitation of migrant labour.