Keynote: Saying Yes to a Local Farming Future
Chris Smaje in conversation with Manda Scott - a look at the case for a land-based, localised food system and setting the scene for the conversations that will be happening over the next 2 days.
Shaping our Local Food and Farming Future
A chance to hear from thought leaders working at the national level across England and Wales on what they see as the most important factors and policy directions that we should consider in shaping a local food and farming future in the Marches. This session will provide a big picture framing of opportunities and challenges.
Keynote: Relocalizing the Food Economy
Josiah Meldrum, in conversation with Manda Scott
Join Manda Scott in conversation with Josiah Meldrum of Hodmedod, exploring the story of this innovative business and what we can learn from it about creating shorter, closer supply chains and an emerging market for British pulses, grains and seeds.
Sustainable Livestock Management
Pasture For Life are hosting this session exploring best practice in regenerative livestock farming in the region
Can we taste food quality?
The culmination of our taste challenge will see top chefs score vegetables from different sources for taste. We will carry out live Brix measurements for nutrient density and see how the results compare. Join us for the 'Alternative Horticulture Show' and discussion on food quality and nutrition.
The Weather-Proof Farm
Towards the subsidy free, profitable operation.
How poor soil and pasture health is bringing systemic weaknesses to grazing operations and what to do about it.
Want to shorten housing periods costs?
Have issues in winter with wet lying ground?
Want to eliminate poaching?
Have problems with burning-off, or grass growth dropping off mid season?
Want to grow more grass in drought and with less fertilizer?
Want to carry more stock and improve biodiversity on your farm?
Want the forecast to bring a smile to your face whatever the weather?
This session is for you.
Grass production (how to double output & UK data showing close relationships with rainfall)
Remediation strategies (mechanical, mineral, biological)
Increasing soil fertility naturally
A debate on the merits of different ways to increase soil fertility naturally. Find out about composting, bokashi, how a Johnson Su can produce bio-innoculant and using worm compost - vermiculture.
Soil Health/Plant Health/Human Health - making the connections
Our Taste challenge will lead into this discussion on the interconnectedeness of soil, plant, animal and human health. Find out why what is good for the land is good for us too and how to be part of a farmer research initiative on measuring nutrient density.
Shorter and Closer Supply Chains
This session will look at how direct sales can be a win-win for producers and their customers. We will explore this with people involved in the supply chain into restaurants and through retail outlets and how this can increase turnover, cut waste and put great quality food on plates.
Linking producers and consumers is key to driving a change in our food system. The Open Food Network can play a key role in this and the session will look at how OFN has been used in a pilot linking Ludlow Farmers Market traders to a food hub in Birmingham as well as exploring the wider role farmers markets can play.
Working Together to Reduce Farm Nutrient Run-Off
A look at collaborative approaches to reduce farm nutrient run-off, from land management practices to innovative products from chicken manure. Find out how farmers are working with institutions to improve water quality.
Seed diversity for food resilience
Essential elements to all life and the start of every food producer's journey. This session will talk about why we all need to think more about seed, where it comes from and how seed diversity means food security.
From Conventional to Regenerative: The Pollardine Farm Story
Lizzie and Jane Hulton-Harrop farm in partnership at Pollardine Farm in the Gatten Valley, south Shropshire. Over the last couple of years, they have changed their farming system to move towards a regenerative model. They ended annual grazing licenses to take the farm back in hand and completed the full Holistic Management course to help them design a new way forwards. The grassland was rested for 18 months and in November 2022, a small herd of Pedigree Aberdeen Angus was introduced. Alongside this, Lizzie is running a Test & Trial on blended finance working with a group of 17 smallholders, farmers and landowners, as well as facilitating a water quality project across 8 farms.
Making Regenerative Agriculture Pay
Farming regeneratively means profitably, this is key to resilience. Hear about different approaches to achieve this on a range of farm systems and landholding sizes in the region.
Collective Small Scale Mixed Farming
How does working collaboratively increase our yield as small scale growers? What works when aiming to produce good food here in the UK year-round? Join experienced growers, intentional community members and CSAs at various stages to talk about what happens when growing is collaborative. What can be produced? How much? What are the pitfalls? How does sharing the tasks work in practice? A relaxed Friday evening event - bring a drink and we look forward to your company!
Drink the Marches - featuring our small-scale local producers
Local producers discuss the challenges of sustainable sourcing and supply
Carbon and farming: Reducing emissions, increasing sequestration & measuring change
Find out about ways of reducing emissions and increasing sequestration and how to measure changes in a wide range of farming habitats and operations.
Farming with Nature
The Nature Friendly Farming Network will host a session on what it means to farm with nature drawing on the experiences and insights of farmers taking this approach.
Forest Gardens, Apple Coppice Systems & Orchards
Chris Evans of Applewood Permaculture Centre in North Herefordshire introduces the concept of Forest Gardening as a valuable land use for small and large scale on farms, gardens, parks and allotments. He is also stacking other layers of production in a forest-garden-type system to diversify and increase yield with an integrated approach adding diversity and value to farm and garden activities.
Chris will be joined by Wade Muggleton - Marcher Apple Network
Great Grains - building diversity and flavour for UK milling wheats
Crop diversity is key to resilient food production, but the trade in genetically diverse cereal seed is currently illegal. Hear how a group of millers, bakers, farmers, traders and plant scientists have come together to change the law and put seeds back in our hands. Find out what local grain networks are doing and how to get involved.
Deep-Dive: Fertility in Grass-Fed Cattle
Rob Havard is a cattle farmer and professionally qualified Ecologist. Rob runs Phepson Angus – a regenerative farming based pedigree Aberdeen Angus herd, selling bulls and females to other grass based farmers and breeders. Rob was an early adopter of Holistic Management and Regenerative grazing techniques and has offered training and consultancy in this field since 2014. Rob is a 2022 Nuffield Scholar.
Fertility is the number one predictor of profit in suckler cow systems. As input costs continue to rise we will need to reach optimum fertility rates within the bounds of what our environment can provide. Rob Havard from Phepson Angus will share the difference between inherent fertility and adaptive fertility and how this is key to running a profitable, regenerative, grass-fed suckler cow system.
Let's talk about Organic
Mark Measures will be launching the updated Organic Farm Management Handbook and be in conversation with local organic farmers and OF&G about what it means to them to be organic, and the unique opportunities and challenges facing organic farmers
Funding Opportunities: Update on schemes
Updates on a range of funding schemes, from the latest on Countryside Stewardship Agreements and SFI guidance to the AONB's FiPL funding, as well as insight into the Landscape Recovery pilot.
Hear about initiatives exploring how farmers can be paid for public
and environmental services.
The Potential for Material Supply Chains: Leather and Wool
This panel will be facilitated by Sara Grady of British Pasture Leather, and will consider the challenges and opportunities of creating new networks for the production of leather and wool that fulfils a regenerative ethos. The discussion will explore the complexities of raw material qualities, supply chain logistics, costs/value, material performance, and product design in the context of regenerative sourcing.
Knowledge is Power
Sharing knowledge is key to creating a regenerative farming
future. Hear about a range of ways in which this is happening and
that you can be part of.
Land Access Workshop
Hosted by Daphne Du Cros
Are you a landowner who has a couple of acres that could be put to good use growing for your local community? Are you a person with a passion for growing & to run your own business? This workshop will look at the values, models & practicalities for connecting people & land and kicks off a matching process.
Resilient Green Spaces
Learn about Social Farms and Garden's Resilient Green Spaces project and discuss
what could work here in the Marches. This will touch on community access to farms
and land, training for new entrant horticulturalists, community orchards,
innovative food hubs and more.
Session: On-Farm Mapping and Recording
Lizzie Hulton-Harrop & Tom Hulton-Harrop
Description: The Wood Pasture Tool is an application to help generate random positions to aid with the placement and planting of trees. Positions can be generated in the tool and then exported to an intermediate format (GPX) to be imported to Google Maps, mapping software or GPS devices. The tool is in a very early stage of development and we're keen to get more feedback on the best direction to take it in future.
Tom grew up in the beautiful Gatten Valley on his parents' farm. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you ask...) his passion was for computers and not farming, which eventually led him to Reading. He now lives and works as a software engineering manager at Amazon Web Services. He has over 10 years of experience working in the video game and software industry.
In his spare time, Tom still enjoys coding and started tinkering on a little hobby with the help of his wife Fi, sister Lizzie, and mum Jane. Today this experiment is what we're calling the Wood Pasture Tool and we're excited to share this early version with you all today!