Our food system is central to the most critical issues of our time. Not only is food the one thing that we produce that everyone, everywhere, needs every day, but its production – as well as its consumption – connects us intimately with the natural world. But the globalised food system has separated us from the sources of our food, thereby severing the land-based relationships that informed our species’ entire evolution. This system has become the biggest contributor to climate chaos and ecocide, as well as to the ill-health of humanity.
But if food lies at the centre of the problem, it is also central to the solution. By transforming our food systems – by transitioning away from large-scale, industrial monocultures for centralised markets, towards diversified, smaller-scale place-based food production – we really can maximise productivity and feed the world, while simultaneously minimising resource use, healing ecosystems, and increasing the number of livelihoods. Recognising this truth is the doorway into a new paradigm, one that empowers us to support human flourishing even as we begin to solve our ecological crises at their systemic root cause.
An invitation to farmers to come and learn about forage crops and grazing practices that enable farming systems to be resilient to climate change as well as optimise livestock growth and positive health from forage.
We take a look at farmers’ experiences of resilient forage crops in the context of changing climatic conditions. This is a chance to hear directly from a farmer about an Innovative Farmers trial on extended grazing of lucerne by sheep (adapted NZ system), the benefits of herbal leys to provide green forage, and rotational grazing approaches to maximise forage production and livestock growth from forage.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 140 (Full)
Nature-based solutions to climate change are rising up the international agenda. Farmers across the globe have a central role to play in delivering multiple outcomes from our land – food, nature and climate. Natural habitats that increase biodiversity as well as helping to mitigate and adapt to climate change are vital.
This workshop gives a space for farmers around the world to discuss the potential for nature-based solutions at different scales on their farmland to tackle the dual crises of climate change and ecosystem collapse. Farmer case studies from a range of countries and farming systems will set the stage for deeper discussions on how farmers can embrace nature-based solutions like woodland, agroforestry, peatland and semi-natural grassland, and what support they need.
Come and join us to hear from farmers from Ireland to Finland, Sierra Leone to Essex and to tell your story as well.
Under the dominant global politico-economic framework, which champions ‘growth’ at the expense of human and environmental wellbeing, degradation of natural resources has reached dangerous levels, threatening irreversible climate change and biodiversity loss. In an effort to reform the unmediated use of natural resources, there is an increasing call amongst mainstream thinkers to recognise nature as an 'asset' through the framework of ‘natural capital.’ In this panel discussion, we will critically evaluate this logic and consider alternative ways of thinking about nature and its preservation.
For years now, people have been inundated with promises about the potential of genetically modified organisms and other ‘precision’ and ‘digitalised’ farm technologies. People are told that these modern technologies have to be embraced to both address food security and tackle climate change. According to the advocates of these technofixes, regions that don’t adopt these new technologies – especially in the Global South – are doomed to remain stuck in the dark ages.
In this session, you will hear voices of resistance to these new technologies from different parts of the world. They will share their insights on how UK (and other Western) corporations, research, states and foundations have been and continue to seek to export technology packages to engineer agroecosystems. Starting from testimonies and historical insights in technology resistance struggles, this session seeks to disrupt assumptions that ‘Western’ technology should be promoted in the Global South. We will also start unpacking how (bio)technology relates to questions of colonialism, decolonization and development.
We are witnessing the increasing financialisation of land and territories as land and natural resources are sold off to financial actors such as banks, pension funds, and insurance companies. These actors often make use of complex investment webs involving any number of intermediaries, brokers, tax avoidance loopholes and off-shore schemes. All of these are attempts to distance themselves from public scrutiny, regulation, taxation and accountability. This is hugely disempowering for communities as it means that decisions are taken about land that are distant, undemocratic and hidden.
And agricultural land is by no means protected. And whether the new owners have purely financial motivations or have some interest in what the land offers (biomass, commodity sales), the outcome is the same: investors acquiring shares prioritise profitability, relegating agricultural production together with its social functions and its environmental objectives to a secondary place.
This session seeks to address the following questions:
To what extent is financialisation happening in Europe?
What are the consequences in terms of transparency of land ownership, the flouting of regulations, the impact on farmers' independence, and impact on farm succession?
How may we combat the financialisation of land sales?
This panel brings a number of farmers from Java, Indonesia, to share their real farming strategies in developing their adaptive capability towards the consequences of climate change and other hazards. The farmers are “real rainfall observers of their own fields” who have learned the agrometeorological method of analysis in the Science Field Shops in solving their vulnerabilities. Some coping strategies will be presented directly by farmers consisting of:
adaptation strategies to El Niňo by determining planting schedule and by changing cropping pattern;
adaptation strategies to La Niňa by avoiding planting rice and water melon, and by managing drainage in horticultural farming; and
mitigating gas emission and making soil healthy in rice farming.
Agrometeorological expert, Sue Walker, will provide a brief remark of farmers’ coping strategies.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 500
Nitrogen is an element essential for all life on earth and vital in food and farming. But when used to excess, it becomes a dangerous pollutant to our air, rivers, soils and seas. In traditional farming systems, atmospheric nitrogen is naturally ‘fixed’ by plants such as peas and beans and returned to soils in animal manures. However, the creation of synthetic fertilisers has disrupted this cycle and become the single biggest driver of nitrogen pollution globally, pushing us beyond the boundaries the planet can withstand.
As more is understood about the impact of nitrogen pollution on our rivers, soil and plants, we also need to understand the impact it has on the climate crisis.
In this workshop, led by Plantlife’s Policy Manager Jenny Hawley, farmers, public health professionals and environmentalists discuss how to strike a nitrogen balance, closing loops and treating nutrients as too good to waste. The panel explores how solutions that work with nature address these challenges, and have the potential to improve profitability and farm resilience too.
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.
Land theft is not a thing of the past. Samwel, Kathryn, Angie and June will be talking about the different ways communities are discriminated against through land theft and dispossession. Their conversation will focus on understanding that true food sovereignty demands local control of land. Samwel’s Maasai community has faced illegal sales of their land to foreign companies; Kathryn, representing KMP (the Peasant Movement of the Philippines), has been on the frontlines of organizing to gain land rights for the nine out of ten Filipino farmers that do not own the land they till. The Provosts have been the target of predatory loans, historical deprivation and racial discrimination. Together, they will explain how ownership of land is not a narrative around regeneration or sustainability. It is an argument around sovereignty over the very land they and their ancestors tended. To be truly food sovereign, the land must be in the hands of the local communities.