Alliance coordinator Rebecca has been at the Oxford Real Farming Conference this week. It's now the biggest event for 'agroecological' farming (modern, mixed, with nature and food production side by side) on the planet. It was great to see new and existing alliance contacts there!
Hear more about the ORFC on Farming Today here and below is one snapshot from Rebecca - for more snapshots check the blog.
Feeding Britain from the Ground Up.
One of the final sessions at the conference was centred around a report that makes the case for a Britain that can feed itself.
Feeding Britain From the Ground Up is an attempt to provide answers to the question: What should I eat to be healthy and sustainable?
Patrick Holden, CEO of the Sustainable Food Trust explained their reasoning for doing the work - they saw a lack of policy to support changes for farmers, financial barriers for farmers and massive public confusion. They saw that gathering together the solutions for a Britain to be able to produce food that is plentiful and sustainable could be part of the answer.
Solutions include: a huge reduction in chicken production as grain fed systems would need to end, education and policy change to end food waste and more land for trees and nature - along with support from banking and finance to make the shifts.
Simon Fairlie, a small holder and producer of The Land magazine talked about the possibilities within his small scale way of producing and how dairy in some cases is the most efficient form of protein production.
Nicola Renison, a farmer who's made the transition to a more mixed regenerative model of farming explained how she made the shift through hearing about others, and "although we'd been to college we didn't actually know about soil" so finding what worked for them happened gradually and as they transitioned.
Ian Tolhurst, who farms with no animal inputs at all called for a much bigger reduction in animal farming than the report suggests. He explained that if we double our consumption of fruit and veg, it would equal a tiny percentage of extra land.... and that "we don't need livestock in order to maintain soil fertility."
Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School spoke about the importance of education and the many benefits of being connected to good food; "food should be our medicine" and the need for support for those producing the food. "What other category of job is forced to produce what they produce below an economic level?"
The panel weren't all in agreement about the ways forward - but smaller scale, mixed farming 'stacked' systems and the importance of education and financial and policy support came up again and again.
Read the full report here - so what does this mean for Herefordshire? Would you like the Food Alliance to focus on this and start the conversation? Are these conversations happening? Get in touch!
Sign the Food Charter and build the Alliance so we can make the future farming shifts in Herefordshire that work for us!