Once again the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) gave us a great start to the year, made even more exciting by the very first meeting of the Kindling farm's advisory group!
The conference, now in its fifth year, is a unique gathering of the UK’s agroecological farming movement. And the evening before the start of ORFC, some of the most respected people in the sector met to explore and challenge our vision for Kindling’s farm. As well as offering very positive and useful feedback, they started to look at how to help us communicate our vision for the farm to the outside world.
The confidence our experts gave us and the support and enthusiasm they demonstrated was a huge antidote to the sometimes daunting scale of the task we have ahead of us! The meeting gave us an added spring in our step as we attended talks and workshops, held impromptu meetings and networked our way around the conference
Our huge thanks to Pete Ritchie ( Nourish Scotland and Whitmuir farm), Julie Brown (Growing Communities), Jamie Hartzel (Ethex) Andy Goldring (Permaculture Network), Zoe Wangler (Ecological Land Cooperative ), Richard Snow, Tim Crabtree (Schumacher College) - as well as the other members of the advisory group who couldn't make it this time - both for giving up their very scarce time and for their honesty and belief in Kindling's Farm plans.
We also had our first Kindling stall at the conference this year, which was a great way to spread the word about our projects and to make contact with people who could help us establish the farm. Neil Johnson, the Food and Farming Advisor for the National Trust in the North West, Anne Selby of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Greater Manchester & Merseyside and Tom Carmen from the Soil Association Land Trust, all popped by to say hello and we'll be meeting up with them over the next month to chat about how they can help us move forward in our search for land.
Personally the session that I (Helen) got most out of was one on Argo-forestry - Stephen Briggs and Martin Wolfe gave hugely inspiring presentations about their work, making us even more certain that Agro-forestry is a key part of the sustainable farming solution and of the Kindling farm.
Excitingly they had heard of Kindling too and were really happy for us to visit their inspiring farms. So we're looking forward to that in the coming months, and will no doubt be telling you all about it here soon! Sign up for our E News if you'd like to be kept in touch.