We are so excited to share with you that in early January, members of our team went to the Oxford Real Farming Conference 2023 (ORFC), in Oxford.
It was an amazing and inspiring experience. Here is the ORFC 2023 highlights youtube video to give you a sense of the place and the atmosphere.
It was a great opportunity for us to share with our community some of the great work we have been doing and connect with like-minded people in an environment like the ORFC. And, we left Oxford full of hope and energy after meeting, hearing, and witnessing amazing speakers from all over the world.
What did we get up to?
Want to know more about our sessions at the ORFC? Keep reading to find out more!
Our team members had two sessions, one hosted by us, the Open Food Network and one hosted by the Landworker’s Alliance:
How to grow a food hub: various approaches to creating a community food enterprise
This session was hosted by the Open Food Network and was an opportunity for us to highlight our vibrant network of food enterprises. We wanted to share their knowledge with the ORFC community by hosting a panel discussion. During COVID these food enterprises showed how important they are for community resilience. Simon from Tamar Grow Local, Duncan from Cambridge Food Hub, Nick from Stroudco and Garethe from the Open Food Network joined the conversation to discuss and answer questions about how to grow a food hub. They discussed how they got started and how they built a network of local growers and farmers – as well as information and advice for planning a new Food Hub or expanding the operations of an existing one.
This session was very well attended. It was an amazing opportunity and experience to be able to connect with so many passionate people wanting to develop and grow their food enterprises. The audience was from all over the UK, which was so inspiring seeing all these people wanting to create change. Not only was the panel great, but the audience was really engaging and responding it to it. We are very happy that our panellists could help business grow and find solutions, together to some of the key challenges in building a food enterprise.
We are so grateful to our inspiring panellists for sharing their knowledge and experience in the matter.
Local food economies – how can we join the dots?
The session was hosted by Landworker’s Alliance, where amazing people – including members of our team from the Food Data Collaboration project – spoke about working on new grassroots initiatives to share, cooperatise and create open-source short supply chain infrastructure to join the dots in local food economies, place control over the food system back in the hands of local producers and communities, and to make healthy, local, sustainably produced food more accessible to all.
The session was very well attended: “[and it was] a wonderful opportunity to share the work of the Food Data Collaboration as part of a panel alongside Danny Fisher of Better Food Shed and Emma Shires of the Nottingham Mill Coop. With at least 70 in the room and a similar number online, the response from the audience was heartening, with a clear appreciation of and interest in the potential of our project to benefit agroecological producers on the ground and widen their marketplace access. Our thanks go to the Landworkers’ Alliance for the invitation to take part and the expert chairing by Peter Samsom.” – Sophie
Here are a few team highlights about their time at the conference!
“How do prison and policing impact and intersect with our struggles for land justice”
My favourite session was “How do prison and policing impact and intersect with our struggles for land justice”. It was an incredible session. It was eyeopening in terms of looking at land justice from a different angle – abolitionism. It was amazing to see a panel layout the web that connects our current food system, and the criminal justice system and the prison system. Looking at everything as whole really underlined the way people in power control and surveil our access to land and other rights through the current food & justice system
Developing the UK Organic Sector: Organic action plans as strategies for growth was a great session with a variety of different people from organisations trying to promote the organic sector, this included the English organic forum. A lot of the talk was made up of an audience discussion on how we can change how organic is seen within the food system and by shoppers to begin the necessary change towards organic agriculture that is needed. Lots of great ideas and also stresses at the issues with trying to get policy change within defra to help promote the organic sector.
In the name of the Farmer with Vandana Shiva
My highlight was the “Agroecology and Feminism: Transforming Our Economy and Society” session. The panellists were amazing. It was so inspiring to hear their stories and experience as women and gender-marginalised people in the movement for food sovereignty, agroecology and a better food and land-use system for everyone. It really highlighted for me the power of sharing our stories and personal experience – as well as reinforcing the need for our movement to work to end systems of power and discrimination like racism, sexism, and classism.
My favourite session was “Farmers connection: A food partnership approach”. There are already some Food Partnerships which are very active in the Open Food Network. I am keen to explore how we could work with more of them. We could offer a nationwide webinar to look at how this is already working in some areas and explore how ideas like the Good Food Loop could be rolled out more widely. We are also interested in having 1-2-1 conversations with individual Food Partnerships.
ORFC is an important annual conference that gathers activists, organisations, farmers and growers as well as folks that are passionate about alternative farming and more. Being there as a team was an amazing experience and a great opportunity for us to connect with people who care about the same things we care about. We hope to be able to join again next year both as audience and participants.
If reading about our time there peaked your interest here are few links to previous sessions and more about the ORFC.
- ORFC 2023 in-person programme
- ORFC 2023 online sessions
- ORFC 2022 sessions playlist
Written by Djenai Delerue
Member of the Open Food Network UK Coordinating Circle, Stewardship Circle and Communications circle