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.
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.
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.
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?
Nitrogen is a challenge that requires international action. Hear from the international experts on the grand challenge we face, and from activists seeking to put nitrogen at the top of the climate agenda in the build up to COP26.
Nitrogen is a grand challenge for agriculture. The climate impact of nitrogen has been overlooked for too long. Meeting the aim to feed the human population adequate diets along with the ambition to keep global warming below 1.5C mean radical action on nitrogen is urgent.
Making the change we need to see means combined action in multiple areas, which include reducing reliance on – and use of – synthetic fertilisers; shifting global diets away from high meat consumption; and incentivising farm practices that are based on sustainable nutrient management, such as agroecology.
This session brings together international experts who outline the scale of the nitrogen challenge for farming; small-scale farmers from the global south to explore the challenges and opportunities around managing nitrogen, and; activists working to achieve global commitments to reduce nitrogen excess at the international climate conference, COP26.
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.
Smallholder farmers in the global south represent some of the world’s most financially underserved communities. Often these farmers struggle to balance subsistence farming with the desire to invest in cash crops that would allow for increased income. By contrast, institutional and other private ethical, social and impact investors find it difficult to identify and support investment-ready smallholder farmer pipelines, primarily using private debt and private equity. Consequently, the tendency has been to invest in mid-sized and large operations. Are the capital markets well-positioned to support small agroecology enterprises? How can the responsible investment community work with local stakeholders to develop and support pipelines of agroecological partners?
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.
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!