The Oxford Real Farming Conference celebrates its tenth year

UK - Taking place on 3-4 January 2019 in the Oxford Town Hall, the 2019 Oxford Real Farming Conference will be the biggest yet – with more sessions, more delegates and an additional venue
calendar icon 2 January 2019
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The conference is open to all who are interested in working towards a more sustainable food and agricultural system, from farmers and growers to scientists and policy-makers.

As always, the conference features sessions on a wide range of important themes, from practical management to in-depth policy debates. As well as showcasing new techniques for best practice in agroecological farming, there will be broader discussions on what must happen to create real, worthwhile change in our food system. Speakers will include pioneering organic farmer Eliot Coleman; Vivien Sansour, founder of the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library; and agroforestry expert, Steve Gabriel.

This year’s programme stands out with its timely discussions around key issues for the future of UK food and farming, including sessions on the Agriculture Bill and life after Brexit, a theme around public goods, including a debate on natural capital, and of course we don’t shy away from addressing controversial issues with a discussion about veganism and what constitutes a sustainable diet.

For practitioners there is a wealth of knowledge, with sessions exploring agroforestry, soil management, pasture regeneration, mulching, drought resilience, business advice and much more.

The conference delves into some hot topics, including honest food labelling, rewilding and problems of pollution, from chemicals to plastics. There’s also an emphasis around local food systems, with discussions on direct sales, box schemes, community supported agriculture as well as a session exploring how we can save local abattoirs.

And as always with ORFC we intersperse this with things not often covered by a farming conference! This year we’ve got singing, explorations of spirituality and empowering women.

Co-founder, Ruth West, said: “I’m looking forward to that moment when after all the preparation the doors finally open and the two days begin of debating, listening, learning; catching up on old friendships, making new ones. But while we celebrate our 10th and the growth in recognition and acceptance of the importance of ‘real’ farming aka agroecology, there’ll be a sombre note to proceedings as we prepare for the inevitable challenges the year ahead will bring.”

Conference Manager, Tom Simpson, said: “It has been exciting putting together this year’s programme and the demand for tickets shows that the issues we are exploring are hugely relevant to people, 10 years after the first ORFC – maybe more than ever. There is a good balance between sessions organised by those who have been with ORFC from the start and new faces; there really is something for everyone. The addition of St Aldate’s Church as a conference venue will mean that there is lots of space for the networking and chats that go on between sessions, which are just as important as the stuff in the programme.”

All tickets for ORFC 2019 are now sold out. The programme can be viewed here.

The ORFC would like to thank the following funders, sponsors and partner organisations, without whose support this event would not be possible: Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Riverford, Compassion in World Farming, Lush, A-Team Foundation, the Soil Association, Agricology, Cotswold Seeds, Triodos Bank, Landworkers’ Alliance, the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association and Sustain.

Ryan Johnson

Editor at The Poultry Site

Ryan worked in conservation from 2008 to 2017, during which time he operated a rainbow trout hatchery and helped to maintain public and protected green spaces in Canada for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. As editor of The Poultry Site, he now writes about challenges and opportunities in agriculture across the globe.

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