Oxford Real Farming Conference 2022: Our top 5 picks
The 12th Oxford Real Farming Conference took place online from the 5-7th January 2022.
Over the years ORFC has become the unofficial gathering of the agroecological farming movement in the UK and beyond, attracting an amazing array of innovative and radical thinkers and community builders.
We’ve pulled together some of our highlights from this year's event. It's just a snapshot of the 130 discussions, workshops and panel debates, more of which you can see in the full playlist here. Well worth a sit down with a coffee on a cold morning …
1. Farmer-led research to banish pests without pesticides
Did you know that if pest predators didn’t exist the descendants of one mating pair of cabbage whites would cover Australia in a towering plume rising into the stratosphere?! Nor did we… From harnessing predatory insects to deploying trap crops to deceive pests, this session was packed full of practical experiences and tips from farmers using the latest agroecological innovations through the Innovative Farmers programme.
2. Wakelyns Organic Agroforestry: Two Year Update: Short Food Chains and Stacking Enterprises
For decades the Wakelyns agroforestry project, a nature-friendly oasis in a conventional landscape, has been a beacon of inspiration to the agroecology movement in the UK. But can it financially sustain itself? In the last few years, the team there have been focusing in on how to make enterprises at the site profitable as well beneficial to the research community. Watch this session for a motivational tour of what can be achieved from when agroecological entrepreneurs team up!
3. Diversity In Horticulture – What Is Culturally Appropriate Veg?
What would our supermarket and greengrocer shelves look like if more people in the UK from diverse cultures and heritages were able to grow produce commercially? Pauline Shakespeare from the Ubele Initiative explains how structural inequalities in our food growing sector can be challenged and disrupted, while Elki Guillen introduces us to a world where edible cacti are centre stage. David Mwanaka came to the UK from Zimbabwe aged 26 with a plan to become a farmer. ‘When it comes to food and human migration, I always imagine what it is for someone growing up here eating fish and chips and then they end up [somewhere where] all of sudden there are no potatoes! … Maybe after some time someone might think, ‘let me try and grow potatoes’.’ And so begins his journey to farming white maize, a staple he missed from home …
4. Managing Livestock for Carbon
How should livestock farmers balance the increasing focus on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions with day-to-day practical decisions on the ground? Four farmers and a carbon management expert talk about their techniques and decisions, discuss carbon calculators, decode acronyms, and look at how not to ‘be left holding the carbon baby’!
5. Second coming for Veg Box Schemes
Veg boxes experienced something of a renaissance during the first Covid lockdown in 2020. Many people discovered the joy and convenience of locally produced deliveries. Indeed, in some cases they were a lifeline. But how will they fair as life ‘returns to normal’? The harsh truth is that a tiny 1.6% of the food sold in the UK is organic. ‘We all need to work together to have access to the other 98.4%’, says long-time farmer Andy Johnson, while Guy Singh Watson is more hopeful …
You can find out more about ORFC on their website: orfc.org.uk