18/11/2015

Guest blog Phil Sumption, Organic Research Centre

Common ground: agroecology, food sovereignty and organic farming in practice

Common groundThe timing is right for everyone working towards a more sustainable, equitable and ecological farming future to come together. It is a time to forget silos and labels and to focus on what we have in common to forge a shared vision for the future.

That is why we have themed the 10th Organic Producers’ Conference, to be held in Bristol on January 27-28th 2016, Common ground: agroecology, food sovereignty and organic farming in practice.

The movement for change in agriculture embraces a wide range of agroecological traditions, from integrated pest/crop management to permaculture, from organic farming to agroforestry and holistic management.

Are they really all uniquely different, or is the common ground they share, in terms of ideas and history, more important?

We have invited Phil Jarvis, Head of Farming at GWCT’s Allerton project to join us on our Producer Panel for the opening plenary of the conference, which aims to bring these different traditions together. Phil brings a wealth of experience of Integrated (and also organic) farming to the table.

He will be joined by Wiltshire organic dairy farmer Chris Gosling of Berkeley Farm Dairy, Dorset smallholder Jyoti Fernandes from the Land Workers’ Alliance and Cotswold farmer Jonty Brunyee, who is also a Director of The Pasture-Fed Livestock Association.

The Organic Research Centre and the GWCT have been working together on areas of mutual interest for some time. Recently we jointly authored a major report on The Role of Agroecology in Sustainable Intensification, commissioned by the inter-agency Land Use Policy Group.

The GWCT are partners with ORC in Agricology, an exciting new platform for practical information about sustainable British agriculture, which launches on 27th November. Dr Alastair Leake is a member of Agricology’s  Executive Board.

We welcome all farmers interested in ecological approaches to sustainable food production to the Organic Producers’ Conference to come together with researchers and advisers to share ideas on making agriculture perform better, for their businesses and society.

Commonground2We have a full programme with a strong emphasis on practical technical sessions, with 20 workshops fitting under the themes of; new entrants/converters (to organic farming), arable, horticulture, grassland, and food policy/sovereignty.

There is also an opportunity to network with Innovative Farmers who will be showcasing results from recent field labs on a range of topics.

This year we are holding our conference in tandem with the conference on Future sustainability of organic and low-input milk production: Challenges and solutions, at the same venue on 26-27 January, to maximise the opportunities for participants to attend both events.

The conference, will present and debate the outcomes of the Sustainable Organic and Low Input Dairying (SOLID) project, focusing on practical strategies to implement the findings of the project by farmers. Speakers from project partners across the EU and other organisations, and farmers, will introduce the challenges of low-input and organic milk production as well as reporting on project results in relation to breeding objectives, breed choice, forage utilisation and animal health.

Booking for both conferences is on a tiered system with a fixed number of tickets allocated to each tier - when they are gone, they are gone! So please book early for the best prices.

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