Rogelio and his daughter Michel Simbaña of the Kitu-Kara Nation share with us their experiences of 20 years, starting with a mini organic garden and growing up to two interconnected farms in different ecosystems, their work with their local community preserving the Sacred Mountain Ilaló, and the organic shop they opened in February, just in time for the Covid-related food crisis.
Rogelio was born and raised as a poor indigenous farmer. When he was 7, his mother gave him a couple goats and told him: “now you have to look for yourself. If you want to study, you will have to pay your own school.” The following years, developing his goat herd in Mount Ilaló, were crucial in his development: he forged a strong connection with the mountain and the native forests there. He was then drafted into the army, fought in a war, got a job in agrochemical agriculture after that, became really sick. He then decided to return to his roots, and accepted an underpaid job managing a tree nursery for his community. This gave him the opportunity to work with native trees.
In 2003 he connected with the Seed Guardians Network and was hired as a technical assistant and a farmer’s educator. Since then, his life has turned into a permaculture adventure, becoming one of the most recognized leaders of the regenerative movement in the country and helping hundreds of farmers to develop their pathway out of poverty and into Sumak Kawsay, the Good Living philosophy of their ancestors.
Beekeeping is accessible to everyone: it doesn’t require ownership of land, capital investment or great time commitment, but it brings benefits of pollination and harvests of nutritious food and medicine. Local bees, local materials and the knowledge of local beekeepers provide all that is needed; skills in understanding bees and forage in the landscape can be learned. Recognising the dependence of bees on abundant and unpolluted landscapes becomes an incentive for beekeepers to protect and conserve their forests and support local farmers towards agroecological practices. Where forests are healthy in tropical Africa, bees are healthy and abundant. Where there is deforestation and agrochemical use, bees and the livelihoods of local communities both suffer.
We will hear from beekeepers world-wide about their guardianship of community forests, about problems caused by deforestation, fire and intensification of agriculture. We’ll also hear about partnerships that yield benefits for beekeepers, farmers, honey traders and local communities, bringing increased crop yields, harvests of honey and beeswax, food and medicine for the community and access to markets in towns and cities. Beekeepers hold a direct, recognisable and measurable interest in the biodiversity of their lands: in freedom from agrochemicals and pollution and in the health of their forests.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 100 (Full)
Subtle but powerful, this workshop addresses the inevitable next big step in the evolution of sustainable agriculture. Grounded in the indigenous worldviews and experiences of farmers and food gathers over millennia, it explores how we can reclaim our co-creative relationship with nature through working with subtle energies in non-physical realms.
Julia Wright will chair this workshop and provide an introductory overview based on the forthcoming publication on this subject. Farmer practitioner Richard Gantlett will then discuss his experiences, successes and challenges in implementing some of the techniques on his 530 ha mixed farm in Wiltshire, UK. Land whisperer Patrick MacManaway will then discuss and provide examples of how farm livestock and crops are sensitive to the subtle energies of place and typically show improved health, vitality, fertility and productivity when in an appropriately balanced energetic environment.
Participants will then be led in a simple, practical exercise, after which experiences will be discussed in break out groups and a final coming together for discussion and questions. Signposts will be provided for those wishing to take this further. Through developing these skills, we may become more connected with the sentience of and one-ness with nature, and thus move further toward a practice of care.
**Many apologies, this session has now been cancelled due to ill health.**
Richard Perkins is an innovative farmer, educator and the author of the widely acclaimed manual Regenerative Agriculture. He is also the co-owner of Ridgedale Farm in Sweden where he teaches farm-scale permaculture. His blogs have been viewed more than 9 million times and he has over 100,000 Youtube subscribers for his live trainings and online courses.
Richard spent 2020, talking with past students across Europe in his Farm Like a Hero series.
Having dedicated his career to demonstrating effective and replicable models for small-scale regenerative farming, Richard will reflect and discuss the trends, models and business approaches that are creating success for so many new farmers all across Europe. He says there’s never been a better time to grow food!
A great opportunity to join Richard live and put your questions directly to him.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 500
Designing wine farming to mimic healthy ecosystems has created resilience to the vagaries of climate change, labour shortages and continuous increases in costs of production. Holistically designed vineyards function primarily off of solar energy by using adaptive grazing during any season. Soils remain covered throughout the year, tillage is eliminated, biodiversity and soil carbon can significantly increase while tractor use (fossil fuels), labor, water and fertility inputs can be reduced. These systems encourage reciprocity to other lives and are fun to manage.
This session will cover the principles and practices for designing, creating and managing vineyards that mimic nature. Time will be spent examining economics, grazing practices, vine training systems, management benefits and challenges, increasing biodiversity, building soil/ecosystem health and sequestering carbon. We will also briefly discuss creating similar systems in orchards and vegetable crops.
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.
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.
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?
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.