Among much else climate change will affect rainfall. There will be more floods, more droughts and both will be more unpredictable. Civil engineers immediately think in terms of reservoirs and conduits and the rest - all very expensive and unnatural. But we should as far as possible let nature do the work for us. One of the best civil engineers in the world is the beaver with its supreme ability to manage water: damning streams and rivers when rainfall is high; creating natural reservoirs for release in times of drought; and providing day by day maintenance throughout the year. Absent from Britain for 400 years, farmers and conservationists are now bringing them back.
In this session Luci Isaacson will outline the impact of climate change on farming; Emily Fairfax will describe her work with beavers showing how their behaviour seems purpose designed to bring resilience to changing weather patterns for farming and wildlife; and George Young - an Ambassador for the Beaver Trust, will discuss how beavers can be introduced onto farms and play a key part in meeting future climate challenges.
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In the United States, women are increasingly taking on decision-making roles in agriculture, and around the world, women’s empowerment in agriculture is a key tactic for supporting climate resilience and food security. American Farmland Trust and its partners around the United States have developed a variety of support structures for women in agriculture, including through facilitated peer-to-peer learning and networking. These programs create spaces for women in agriculture to share authentically about what they are experiencing in a white male-dominated field, support women in accessing resources, and help them realize their power to steward land successfully. But the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the way these services are offered, prompting practitioners to get creative with their use of online platforms.
During this session, leading practitioners will share their successes and lessons-learned making this shift in 2020, and discuss what it might mean for the future of support systems for women in agriculture in the United States.
The current agricultural system has forgotten the purpose of trees and plants and their benefits for all living beings on the planet, leading to an irreversible situation where temperatures are on the rise and the human race might not have a home in a few years. The signs are blatant; fires, drought, lack of water, higher extinction rates, etc. So what will we do to ensure our future?
Simple and efficient solutions exist and it is up to every farmer to choose the right techniques to deal with the climate crisis. Indigenous people give one example of how they play their part in protecting life on earth. They have always taken care of nature as if it were their own body and go with the motto that you reap what you sow. Benki has been practicing agroforestry for the past 30 years and shows us how this system constantly regenerates soil and generates biodiversity.
Severine von Tscharner Fleming is an organic farmer and founder of Greenhorns - a radical, young farmers organisation in the US which produces the literary journal for working agarians, The New Farmers Almanac. Since 2013, Severine has also served as a founding board president of Agrarian Trust - a national organisation working in the framework of the commons to raise the issue of land succession.
In this session, Severine will deliver learnings from a decade of action with the young farmers movement, and an analysis of how inter-generational collaboration, and a commons-based approach to land tenure and stewardship may offer our brightest hope for food sovereignty and regional resilience. From her work with Greenhorns and the National Young Farmers Coalition in the US, Severine believes that the struggle for land access is the number one obstacle for young people entering agriculture, and particularly for organic farmers from a non-farming background.
The IALAs (Instituto Agroecológico Latinoaméricano, or Latin American Institute of Agroecology) are a process led by La Via Campesina to train young people from social movement organizations in agroecology. Agroecology is the farming model that rescues peasant and indigenous culture, ensures the construction of food sovereignty, and the only model that can cool the planet in a time of climate disaster.
In this talk, we will hear about the history of the constructions of the IALAs at the Latin American level and the methodology of formation. We will then hear specifically about the experience of IALA Ixim Ulew (Ixim Ulew meaning “land of corn” in Maya Quiche), the IALA for youth from the Mesoamerican region with central farm-campus in Santo Tomás, Chontales, Nicaragua.
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.