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Sustain sessions at the Oxford Real Farming Conference, January 2023

Sustain and our project and campaign coordinators are organising or contributing to the following events at the ORFC in January 2023. The full programme is available here.

Field in Oxfordshire. Credit: Simon Godfrey unsplash

Field in Oxfordshire. Credit: Simon Godfrey unsplash

Note: These are all in-person events – one is also accessible live online (Averting the Insect Apocalypse). We understand that audio recordings of of the ORFC sessions may be available online later in 2023.

Thursday 5 January

Opening plenary

Main Hall and Assembly Room, Thursday 5 January, 9.30am to 10.30am – also accessible online

A number of people will share brief thoughts during the opening plenary session, reflecting on the last few years since we gathered -- how far we’ve come, how far we have to go, and where we are in the bigger picture. Sustain is a proud long-term supporter of the Oxford Real Farming Conference. Sustain Chief Executive Kath Dalmeny feels honoured to be one of the people contributing to the Opening Plenary in this way. 

State of the Four Nations: UK food and farming policy

Council Chamber, Town Hall, Thursday 5 January, 11am to 12.30pm 

Chair: Amy Willoughby, Plotgate Community Farm
Speakers: James Woodward, Sustain; Katie Palmer, Food Sense Wales; Kerry Melville, Nourish NI; and Pete Ritchie, Nourish Scotland

We will explore the best of food and farming policy from across the UK nations that has the potential to enable a transition to agroecological farming and local food systems, as well as think about the gaps that need filling and how the UK Nations can learn from each other.

Averting the Insect Apocalypse

Main Hall, Thursday 5 January, 12.45 to 1:45pm – also accessible online
With Dave Goulson and Vicki Hird

Just how much trouble are the invertebrates in; why does this matter; and what can we do about it? In this session we will be exploring these questions with:

  • Vicki Hird, author of Rebugging the Planet, and Head of Sustainable Farming for Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming. She has over 30 years’ experience working on environment, food and farming and justice issues. She is also a part-time expert consultant for NGOs and institutions (including work for RSPB, World Animal Protection International, Greenpeace International, and the Sustainable Development Commission).
  • Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex, who is one of the leading scientists studying the ecology, behaviour and conservation of bumblebees and a supporter of citizen science where the public can actively support scientists via observations. 

Should the UK Grow More Food? An open forum on the state of UK food security

Lecture Theatre, Cheng Building, Thursday 5 January, 2pm to 3.30pm 

Head of Sustainable Farming for Sustain, Vicki Hird will be speaking as part of this event (see biography above)

What’s at Steak? The role of livestock and alternative proteins to build  sustainable food systems and sustainable diets in the UK

St. Aldate's Room, Thursday 5 January, 2pm-3:30pm 

Organised by: The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), working with Nourish Scotland and Sustain

In the UK, policy change and increasing investments affecting livestock and plant-based alternatives are imminent, from policy support for a protein transition, the commercialisation of lab-grown meat, to improvements in animal welfare legislation. Although debates remain polarised, the status quo in animal production systems is clearly not an option. A growing number of voices are converging on the need to move away from highly industrial livestock production and move towards ‘less and better’, but the way forward is far from clear. How much consensus is there around this vision? What does it look like in practice? Can we trace out a clear reform pathway? This workshop aims to create a space for different viewpoints to be shared, and for common ground to potentially emerge on pathways forward.

This session will take the form of facilitated discussion groups.

Friday 6 January

Rewarding the Farming Champions: A future for Environmental Land Management

Council Chamber, Town Hall, Friday 6 January, 9am to 10.30am 

With Vicki Hird, Head of Sustainable Farming for Sustain; Jonathan Baker, Defra; Dr Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife & Countryside Link; and farmers Stuart Roberts and Jyoti Fernandez of the Landworkers Alliance

Policies that govern farming and land management in England are undergoing one of the biggest shifts in a generation. This comes at a critical juncture for biodiversity, for climate and for the future resilience of farm businesses.  Two years into the Agricultural Transition, this session will look at the development of Environmental Land Management (ELM). It will bring together voices from the farming and NGO sectors, as well as from Defra to discuss the Transition means for farmer business decisions in the here and now, its impact on the environment, and what the next stages of development for ELM are. 

Oxford Real Farming Poetry Reading

Story Museum Courtyard, Friday 6 January, 1pm to 1.45pm

As part of the Oxford Real Farming Conference 2023, the poet Trelawney (Sustain’s Ben Reynolds poetry moniker) is calling out for readers for a food and farming themed poetry session. Want to share your favourite poet’s work or have your own piece you want to share? Or just turn up to hear some great poems, from odes to the joys of eating together, the rich experience of life working the land, the impact on nature of industrial food system, to famine and feasting, shopping to cooking. We’re looking for 10 to 12 readers, so get in quick and email with 1 to 2 poems that you’d like to read. No booking needed for the audience #FridayFoodPoem

A Market Garden Renaissance? Learning and strategies for peri-urban farming in the UK

Long Room, Town Hall, Friday 6 January, 2pm to 3.30pm

Chair: Aryo Feldman, Fringe Farming Officer for Sustain
Speakers: Abi Mordin, Glasgow Community Food Network; Rebecca Laughton, Landworkers’ Alliance

The session will reflect on two years of the Fringe Farming project, which aims to grow the movement for agroecological food production at city peripheries. In our session, we will pay particular attention to linking the wonderful work happening on the ground to policy development. The panel will share their experiences and lessons learned in advocating for the importance of market gardens. 

The room will then form breakout groups. This will give the audience a chance to link up with relevant people so that they can understand better how to make fringe farming work where they are. Finally, the room will come together in a plenary to discuss opportunities, plans and strategies that can catalyse the growth of agroecological peri-urban farms into the future.

Bridging the Gap between sustainable farming and low-income communities

Council Chamber, Town Hall, Friday 6 January, 2pm to 3.30pm

Chair: Kath Dalmeny, Chief Executive of Sustain 
Speakers: Julie Brown of Growing Communities and Better Food Traders, Jonathan Pauling of Alexandra Rose Charity, Angelina Sanderson Bellamy of University of West England and Sarah Williams of Sustain 

The Sustain alliance’s new initiative - Bridging the Gap - is looking at how we get agroecological food to lower income communities, and how we advocate for the fiscal and other policies to make this food affordable longer term.

Working with partners with supply chain and trading experience, including Alexandra Rose charity, Growing Communities, Nourish Northern Ireland and Food Sense Wales, the programme is exploring how to transition from the current focus on food aid for lower income groups, to food trade. It will help find new markets and boost existing and new supply chain opportunities for nature and climate friendly farmers, exploring and advocating for how these can be invested in over the longer term.  The programme is being developed using principles of coproduction to put diverse voices at the heart of the work, and also is seeking ways to bridge the gap also reflected in the food and farming movement. 

In this session, we will hear more about the initiative and how it is developing, examples of how the gap can be bridged, and early-stage pilots that are being developed to make agroecologically grown food affordable to diverse communities. We will also invite one or two people/projects to share examples or opportunities they see for initiatives and share other learning, including how we ensure a range of voices are able to collaborate to shape the direction of the work.

See the full ORFC online programme here

See the full ORFC in-person programme here


Published 15 Dec 2022

Sustainable Farming Campaign: Sustain encourages integration of sustainable food and farming into local, regional and national government policies.

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