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Oxford Real Farming Conference 2018

January 4 - January 5

Full details of the conference can be found here, although tickets have sold out very early this year.

If you are lucky enough to have a ticket do come and say hello; we’ll be on our stall, in the Main Hall.

There a number of seed related workshops happening:

We are organising a workshop on Day 2: 9am in Christopher Room. (This is the only room outside of the Town Hall.  Go out of the Town Hall, turn left, cross the road, turn right onto Pembroke Street and the venue is on the right after the Story Museum.)

Seed: the beginning and the end

With nine of every ten mouthfuls of food directly reliant on seeds, and increasing the proportion of vegetables in the diet considered to be beneficial to human and planetary health, where does the seed for this come from?  The UK struggles to produce 20% of the organic open pollinated vegetable seed that we need for a resilient food system.  In Europe several small seed companies have adopted a successful model to meet this challenge, now producing new varieties and top quality organic seed that is tested and ideally suited to organic systems.
This session will examine what has made these European seed companies so successful and look at how, through the Seed Co-operative, UK farmers and growers can replicate their model, and their success, to establish the foundations for a resilient real farming future.  Join us to see just what is possible.
Speakers: Lawrence Woodward and David Price.
Then, at 10.30am in the Assembly Room, organised by SUSTAIN

Brexit (De)regulation marketplace – session 1

These sessions are 15-20 minutes each, repeated three or four times with different participants over the course of an hour. This first session will include the themes: Better biodiversity? – Brexit risks and opportunities for our beleaguered wildlife with Matt Shardlow (Buglife); Water: first in the firing line? With Richard Benwell (Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust); Shaping seed policy to grow diversity and resilience for our food system with David Price (Seed Co-operative); and Genetic modification – how Brexit could bring GM to our fields and our food – Liz O’Neill (GM Freeze).
Does Brexit give us the opportunity to take back control of our seed?  How can the trends of diversity loss and concentration of power in a small cluster of global corporations be reversed through UK seed policy.  What are the threats from new trade agreements and rapid biotechnological changes to agro-ecological farming.  Is it possible to shape policy to create significant leverage for change towards real farming to shape a diverse and resilient food future?  The challenges are huge; over 90% loss of food crop varieties since 1900 and 75% of seed now sold by just 3 corporations. Now is the time to join the conversation!
Then at 2.30pm in St Aldate’s Room, organised by the Organic Research Centre

Organic arable breeding as a “citizen science” experience

Chair: Charlotte Bickler (ORC). Speakers: Andrew Trump (Organic Arable), John Miles (KWS UK Ltd), Mark Lea (Greenacres Farm). Plant breeding is not only a matter of science, but first of all a matter of choices. Which crop traits does organic farming need? What are the expectations from the broader public? Organic farming relies on varieties mostly bred for non-organic systems. These varieties are often poorly adapted to organic conditions and, as a result, they can limit crop performance in terms of production, quality and sustainability. Is “citizen science” the way forward, and what would this involve? A new experience on winter wheat variety testing, joining decentralised, farm-managed trials and thorough statistical analysis, is currently taking off thanks to the LIVESEED EU Project. We will take the audience through these open questions, ongoing challenges and experiences in breeding for organic and low-input systems. We will conclude with an interactive simulation of how a network of participants can develop a collective experiment.


January 4
January 5