The Oxford Real Farming Conference
In the first week in January, Oxford becomes the hub for farming folk to gather. The Oxford Farming conference is where agriculture and business rub shoulders, with the NFU, politicians and businessmen debating profits and outputs. Suits, not wellies, was the dress code. However, the Oxford Real Farming Conference, held separately and just down the road, is a very different affair. Here are farmers who encourage diversity and wildlife on their land; small holders and hill farmers, organic researchers and agroecologists, meeting to discuss how farming can be more sustainable.
There were over 800 delegates, exploring and sharing how they can farm productively yet sustainably; how food prices can be fair for farmer and consumer; and how to protect the soil and the land for future generations.
Garden Organic attended the Real Farming conference. And the timing couldn’t be more crucial. Soils are degraded (there was talk of only 100 harvests left in this country), chemical use is constant, and genetic engineering fast becoming a reality.
Catrina Fenton from Garden Organic's Heritage Seed Library was one of the key speakers at a session on open pollinated seeds. She explained the work of the HSL in saving and growing seeds which are no longer commercially available. Growers in the audience were enthusiastic and keen to know more. See Heritage Seed Library.
In the two day conference, there were over 60 sessions, including the nutritional benefits of organic food (latest research will shortly to be posted on our website); how to reduce the use of neonic pesticides; permaculture, No-Dig and a host of other relevant topics. Although discussions are aimed at farmers, the content is of fascination and interest to any organic grower. Next year, why not apply for tickets? It’s not just farmers who attend, and the atmosphere is buzzing with ideas, research and plans for growing the natural way. And not a suit in sight!