Why I’m attending the Oxford Real Farming Conference

Heading to Oxford for the Oxford Real Farming Conference today where Steve is hosting a session on the future of poultry breeds.

Not sure what to expect but looks like a very interesting line up of sessions and speakers. It’s being held at the same time as The Oxford Farming Conference.

Good to see an alternative forum, not funded by the powerful agrichemical companies who supply and to some extent control farming practices and policy in the UK.

Many years ago, Steve took me to a pig and poultry fair in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. I went with an open mind.

Bear in mind, I got involved in food production because I found what I read on food labels rather disturbing. With no formal training in agriculture or horticulture, I had no pre-conceived ideas of accepted ways of farming.

That visit to the pig and poultry fair left me shocked. Pig farming, in particular, seemed to be less about providing tasty, good food and more about achieving high yields and docile stock.

Pig breeding companies seemed to have lost sight of the fact that they were dealing in animals and food. Rather they talked of breeding stock as you might talk about the next generation gadget.

Seeking validation
One of the things we hope to give and gain from this conference is validation.

Validation for small producers and innovative communities who are using common sense in their approach to growing and distributing food.

Right now, people who are getting out and doing something towards producing better food for their communities, need applauding. They need encouragement. They need us to shout about their work.

This will spur them on in the face of obstacles, an agricultural sector that cannot see value in what they do and a government who seems blind to the imminent global challenges we face.

Validation is important. At key points over the last 20 years, we have gathered with like minds and found unexpected validation for what we do. This is so important.

Farming has always had challenges but right now after an appalling growing year, so many small scale farmers may be tempted to throw in the towel, feeling that their efforts to make a living from farming are doomed, but we need to hang on in there.

Share ideas, learn from each other and supplement our incomes however we can, because small farms matter.

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