Oxford Real Farming Conference

Event Date : January 5, 2022 - January 7, 2022

The Oxford Real Farming Conference will now be a fully online event. Now entering its thirteenth year, the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) is the unofficial gathering of the agroecological farming movement in the UK, including organic and regenerative farming, bringing together practising farmers and growers with scientists and economists, activists and policymakers every January. Working with partners, the conference offers a broad programme that delves deep into farming practices and techniques as well addressing the bigger questions relating to our food and farming system. Here are some of the sessions ORC will be involved in.

Thursday 6th January

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM – Woodland Grazing: How To Maintain The Balance.
Find out how woodland grazing can support biodiversity and nature recovery alongside nutritional and medicinal benefits to livestock from browse. Hear first-hand practical experience from ecologists, farmers, and grazing managers sharing considerations, challenges and solutions to integrate woodland grazing into your farming activity and deliver multiple benefits. Getting the right balance requires looking at a range of different scenarios and scales from silvopastoral systems, young trees in newly created woodlands and ancient, old-growth woods. It also requires thinking and planning across a range of timescales, from immediate short-term practicalities to how grazing influences longer term processes and change. The speakers (including ORC’s Lindsay Whistance) will each cover an aspect of the history, ecology, science and practical application of woodland grazing from their own experiences to give wider understanding of this fascinating subject.

Friday 7th January

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM – From Blockages To Building Blocks: What Is Needed To Encourage Agroforestry Uptake In The Uk?
There is rising interest in the UK in agroforestry, or ‘farming with trees’. With its potential to increase farm productivity and resilience and work as a “nature-based solution” towards national and global policy goals on climate change and biodiversity, farmers and policy makers seem united in wanting to see it work. However, significant barriers to agroforestry uptake need to be recognised and addressed in future policy. As part of Defra’s Tests and Trials process for co-designing options under the Environmental Land Management scheme, regional workshops have been held with farmers and other stakeholders to identify the building blocks that will support the planting and profitable management of trees within farm enterprises. Each has focused on a specific type of agroforestry: silvoarable, lowland and upland silvopasture, silvopoultry and silvohorticulture. The session will present and invite feedback on the findings so far, focussing in particular on payment mechanisms and required advice/guidance through the course of a long-term agroforestry venture. With ORC’s Will Simonson.

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM – Beyond The Farmgate: Exploring Supply Chain Needs For Diverse Agroecological Systems – This is a rich example of local enterprises – five in total – and individuals working together in a way that enhances biodiversity and soil life, and conserves agrobiodiversity (seeds and varieties), while also challenging the so-called unviability of small-scale organic production. Our objective is to present the actors and discuss the history that allowed this collaboration to flourish, as well as explore other less obvious benefits of such partnerships, and agroforestry projects in general, which include enhancing social cohesion, revitalizing rural economies, and community wellbeing. Run By James Woodward of Sustain with Growing Communities, farmer George Young, Hodmedod’s, ORC’s Katie Bliss.

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