The discovery of bacteria as a cause of disease ushered in a 'sterile' era - giving us a century in which medicine and agriculture killed off germs, insects, weeds, and other perceived pests in hopes of improving life, without understanding that all living systems are nested, and that we cannot kill off parts of the biological workforce without threatening the whole. This 'get rid of bad things' approach now sneaks in everywhere, even with the best intentions: for example seeing/selling soil carbon as a way of getting rid of atmospheric carbon.
Can we embrace a more "fertile" paradigm of care for our inner and outer landscapes? Didi Pershouse, author of The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities will show how climate cooling is a biological dance, how the hidden biological economy enfolds our own, how the sterile paradigm took hold of our fears and imaginations, and how people can learn to work in fertile collaboration with other species - and with each other.
China’s agroecological and organic farming sector is developing rapidly as increasing numbers of consumers have the economic means to consider the safety and health of their food. The market potential is huge, but many challenges remain including educating the consumer and building trust, supporting new entrants, recovering damaged ecosystems and creating viable market conditions for ecological food producers.
Join this session to learn more from a panel of speakers who are all major influencers in building the popularity and resilience of the agroecology sector. The panel will discuss the state of agroecological food production in China, the barriers to its growth and the innovative solutions that are balancing and harmonizing the cultural, social and economic facets of agroecology. Using the impacts of digital applications and scientific research along with traditional cultural ideals surrounding food and nature, people of all generations are engaging with better food and farming.
Panelists include Ada Qin, founder of the social enterprise Abovefarm, academic and advisor on organic farming and ecology, Professor Yuanguan Xi, the organiser of Beijing Farmers’ Markets and creator of Foodthink, an online platform to promote ecological food systems, Tianle Chang and ecological farmers Gang Liu and Joanna Li. The panel welcomes audience interaction for vibrant discussion and exchange of ideas.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 55
This is a closed session for Black people & people of colour, including those from African & Asian diaspora, Latinx & indigenous peoples.
LION is part of a growing movement of Black people & people of colour (BPOC) returning to land work, addressing issues of food inequalities and disconnect from nature. In this session we invite ORFC BPOC attendees to discuss two intertwined threads of repair: of the land and of ourselves. How do we approach the task of reparations in holistic and nourishing ways? LION members will reflect on our own learnings from the past year, from the BPOC caucus held as part of the ORFC last year in the UK to the latest iteration of the Black Lives Matter movement.
To change the world you need to tell a story which will inspire change and that is exactly what Perrine and Charles Hervé-Gruyer have done at La Ferme du Bec Hellouin. Described by Eliot Colman as the ‘United Nations of all the best sustainable farming ideas’, Perrine and Charles have drawn their inspiration and knowledge from so many different sources; they incorporate the modern techniques of bio-intensive ‘micro-agriculture’ into the broader context of permaculture, but also traditional learnings from the Parisian market gardeners and what they call their ‘barefoot mentors’.
In this session, Perrine will show how all of these learnings influenced the farm’s design, from the Mandala garden, the island garden, ponds, companion planting, bio-intensive planting, terraces, layering, the forest garden, raised beds, mulching, the use of perennial plants and an abundance of trees. She will show how Permaculture gives us the tools we need to design productive human systems that take their inspiration from nature and living ecosystems.
Perrine and Charles’ story is heartwarming and gives us all hope for the future. It is a shining example of how farms can be places of abundance, of healing, of beauty and of harmony and how human beings can be an essential and positive force for good. This is a session not to be missed!
The globalised trade system has been caused tremendous problems for land rights, focusing on the consolidation of land for mono cropped export crops which have undermined diverse localised food systems across the world. However, some models of trade, rooted in solidarity, can be a force for good- supporting traditional farming and forestry systems, creating livelihoods and economic power for marginalised communities. We will learn from the Zaytoun cooperative's partner Canaan Palestine which exports olive oil and other products to support the livelihoods of farmers in Palestine and the Association for the Protection of Forests of the Kayapo people of the Amazon in Brazil about how trade can support fair livelihoods and their important work to protect their culture and territories. Jyoti Fernandes of the Landworkers Alliance will explain how we should develop a solidarity trade system in the UK to enhance markets for fairly-traded agroecological products and most importantly- where to buy Brazil nuts and olive oil!
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 500
Community seed initiatives such as libraries, banks, and swaps are popping up all around the UK - and some have been leading the way for years. As the momentum grows, let's take an opportunity to come together and share experiences, pitfalls, and opportunities; find out what has worked (and not worked at all!) for other groups, and how we can ensure that our community seed is as diverse and resilient as it can be.
Joined by the London Freedom Seed Bank, Lampeter Seed Library, European Coordination Let’s Liberate Diversity and others, The Gaia Foundation’s Seed Sovereignty Programme looks forward to hearing from community initiatives across the UK on how it can best support them in the future. This is a space for communities who are in the process of setting up seed work to learn from groups who have paved the way, and an opportunity for groups to form connections and support each other.
This session will present preliminary findings of ongoing research on the experiences of agroecological entrepreneurs in Africa conducted by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) and the Agroecology Fund (AEF). The speakers will present their perspectives on the question: “Shaping the Future of Food Markets: What kind of markets do we need for the transition to agroecology?” This was the AFSA food systems conference theme held in October 2020. The panelists will explore why and how local and regional territorial markets for agroecological products can be a strategic lever for amplifying agroecology across Africa by sustaining smallholder farmers with income.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 500
What are the latest practices farmers are trialling to tackle weeds and pests using plants rather than agrochemicals? Join this practical session to hear from a panel of farmers, growers and researchers as they discuss the latest results and tips to come out of the Innovative Farmers’ network of farmer-led trials.
Can you tackle couch grass with allelopathic plants like buckwheat? What trap crops are best for deceiving potato pests in commercial farms? Can you beat weeds by finding varieties of wheat that are best suited to organic conditions? These questions (and more!) are being asked by farmers and researchers who are teaming up across the UK to pioneer nature friendly farming techniques that tackle pests and weeds without using agrochemicals. Through the Innovative Farmers programme a range of ecological practices are being put to the test on real farms where the trials are codesigned by the farmers. A process which ensures the outcome is realistic and easier to implement. Join this practical session to hear the latest results and analysis, get tips and find out more about the farmer-led research model.
Regenerative food systems expert, Javier Carrera, shares with us the strategies of a long struggle to protect ancestral maize in Ecuador, along with the cultural practices related to this special plant. He will talk about what maize is in Ecuador and why it is so important and share lessons to transform organic maize systems worldwide.
Javier has been fascinated by maize for as long as he can remember, partly because it has so many different types and uses: canguil, mote, cau, choclo, morocho, tostado, chulpi, chicha, humita, chuchuca, tortilla, champús. And so many different colours, forms, sizes, textures and flavors. He says the genetics of maize are so similar to ours in many ways and there have been so many stories, cultural practices, folk songs, rituals, recipes written about maize.
“I totally understand when people say ‘we are people of maize. Our bodies and souls are made of it.”
But out of the 300+ maize varieties listed by national researchers in the 1960’s in Ecuador, Javier’s network of seed guardians, Social en la Red de Guardianes de Semillas, has only been able to find only around 50. The rest of them are gone. Probably forever. Who were they? What were their names, stories, flavors, colours?