Oxford Real Farming Conference - Blog Post

    Simon Platten from Tamar Grow Local at Oxford Real Farming Conference 2017

    It was a real treat to be able to go to the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) this year, a great way to kick start 2017. The range, breadth and depth of speakers was incredible as well as all the fringe meetings and networking during the breaks.

    The magnificent Oxford Town Hall rang with excited chatter from no-till to British farming post Brexit, heritage cereals to the politics of food pricing, there really was something for everybody.

    Tamar Grow Local also had its own session on Using Social and Ecological Systems Theory to build resilient food systems. Rachel Kaleta explained the history of market gardening in the Tamar Valley in this context, and how it was an example of an ever-changing food system, which managed to re-invent itself in the light of ‘disturbances’ to the system. Simon Platten then went on to show how Tamar Grow Local used this model to help build a modern food system where nested projects could mutually support each other whilst the failure of one didn’t necessarily mean the failure of all. At the end of the talk a lively debate ensued and carried on long after the session had finished. This was the hallmark of each of the sessions I went to and there was a constant energetic buzz about the place, which was like no other conference I had ever been to.

    The Open Food Network UK management team, who live from Fife to Cornwall, also had a chance to meet face to face. A really valuable time to do some high level visioning around issues such as how to attract national media coverage, then what do you know, Lynne Davies (CEO) was interviewed by Radio 4’s Farming Today programme!

    If you need some inspiration at the beginning of the year you could do worse than choose the Oxford Real Farming Conference. Remember intense over-farming means there are only 100 harvests left in the soil of the UK’s countryside, we not only need to talk about it now but we also need to act. This was the overarching message of the conference and there was plenty there to inspire you to do it!

    -Sara Rock Tamar Grow Local