This year the Oxford Real Farming Conference was, more than ever, a whirlwind! A whirlwind of ideas already in action, of new projects being created, and of future ideas just being dreamt of.

First steps on the Farming Ladder with the LWA

First steps on the Farming Ladder with the LWA

For the Landworkers’ Alliance, it was a particularly exciting year. Our two-day schedule of talks and discussions were enjoyed by so many enthusiastic people! Here is the full list of our New Generation, New Ideas sessions chaired by members of the LWA, as well as by friends such as the CSA Network UK.

CSA Network UK Meeting at the ORFC

CSA Network UK Meeting at the ORFC

We explored the vital issues around the right to save our own seeds, along with practical advice on how to go about it. Ecological farmers from Europe & beyond explained appropriate technology that they use on their farms to make life that bit easier (look out for the UK Farm Hack meeting at Ruskin Mill Farm, Gloucestershire on 18th and 19th April 2015… more details here on the LWA website soon…) And, of course, we talked about the politics around our key policy requests.

 

Groundspring seed germination small writing

One of the highlights had to be the Groundspring Network session where farmers with land to spare encountered new entrant farmers desperately seeking land to farm! If you are in either of those camps, do contact the Groundspring Network and get involved!

And then, there were our encounters with “the other conference”. ..The Oxford Farming Conference is the annual gathering of Industrial Agriculture. This year, the Oxford Real Conference was bigger (by number of participants), but the Oxford Farming Conference is the cosy rut that the politicians gravitate to.

So a band of Landworkers “crossed the road” to politely explain our policy demands of DEFRA to delegates arriving in the freezing early morning… we’re the ones not wearing the suits 😉

Landworkers' Alliance members hand out policy request leaflets at the OFC

Landworkers’ Alliance members hand out policy request leaflets at the OFC

To their credit, the Oxford Farming Conference bravely invited George Monbiot  to speak.

And speak he did, sporting a Landworkers’ Alliance badge, no less, and announcing the inevitable future decline of EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies in their current form. It was a barnstorming speech, well worth a watch.

No gathering of the Landworkers Alliance is complete without a party, and the official ORFC party organised by the LWA at the Jam Factory went down a storm! Not only that, our very own Jyoti Fernandes and Joanne Mudhar closed the conference urging everyone to keep the spirit of the conference alive as we all go back to work in our fields!