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Oxford’s farming conference goes global

A landmark moment for the agroecology movement

The Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) is the UK’s annual food and farming conference for agroecological practitioners. 

The ORFC marks an incredible opportunity for farmers, scientists, academics, authors, policymakers and activists to come together under one roof, discussing solutions and opportunities for producing food in a way that benefits nature, the climate, society and our health 

From soil microbiology to seed saving, land justice panels to livestock lectures, the event is chance each calendar year, to delve deep into the farming world for a holistic look at the way we produce our food. 

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Agroecology – a truly global movement

With the pandemic leaving many feeling isolated, it was particularly important to ensure that this year’s conference served to bring people together, but taking the ORFC online in 2021 offered up many new opportunities. An international collection of agroecological ambassadors were able to come together and share stories, successes and knowledge from the worldwide movement, the majority of which are now available to re-watch online: 

By seeing others take action around the globe, the conference inspired a motivating sense of agency. Facilitated by online video services, the virtual ORFC underwent a grand democratisation, opening up the floor for people who might otherwise have shied away from sharing their thoughts in a packed conference hall - audience interaction, question-asking and participation was dynamic, varied and interesting.

The Soil Association is a proud leader in the agroecological movement

The Soil Association and Soil Association Certification led around 20 sessions over the course of this year’s programme, alongside world-renowned figures from the global movement, including Vandana Shiva, Naomi Klein, Nnimmo Bassey and Guy Singh-Watson.  

Read our Nitrogen Report to learn more about the problems and solutions for nitrogen pollution in farming.

Soil Association staff also led a number of practical workshops for farmers including: 

From a global pandemic to extreme weather conditions and Brexit uncertainty, the past year has been one of real turbulence for the farming community. As a truly global gathering of farming’s agroecological ‘voices’, ORFC 2021 marked a significant date in the farming calendar, as an opportunity to come together and discuss farmer-led solutions to some of the biggest crises we currently face.

An air of positivity and enthusiasm followed in the wake of the conference, accompanied by a feeling that together, as a movement, real change can be achieved through the way we eat, farm and produce our food. 

Please note: All of the conference sessions are now available in one handy YouTube playlist to watch back!

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