Oxford Farming Conference 2023
Clare Otridge and Georgie Knock attended the Oxford Farming conference for the first time at the beginning of the month. We took a divide-and-conquer approach to make sure that we had all bases covered for a packed 3 days.
Georgie had won a space on the Inspire programme, a bursary allowing professionals involved in the rural, food, and farming sector, to attend the OFC for the first time. Georgie was one of the 17 Inspire delegates at the conference, the group was fortunate to be supported by Will Evans, who will be next year’s OFC Chair. This was all thanks to the program’s sponsor TIAH (The Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture) who provide a home for skills and career support, to help people and businesses fulfil their potential and the industry thrive.
Clare attended as a delegate and attended The Report Launch, Trinity Natural Capital group on changing and challenging behaviours, The Andersons breakfast and the School for Sustainable Food and Farming session.
If you have any questions about specific sessions, then please do get in touch...onwards with our review!
The theme was ‘Farming a New Future’ for 2023 and Emily Norton did a fantastic job chairing the event, the whole program was well put together and in the style of TED talks. There was an opportunity to ask questions using apps and software, and even journaling was included, however, there was a feeling among some of the people we spoke to that there wasn’t room given to questions and fewer panel discussions than they would have liked.
In the future, we would like to see a little more work on the pre-conference preparation – coming straight out of the Christmas holiday period left a lot of people on the back foot so having some online networking available would have been great as first-timers. We also would have liked a bit more crossover between the OFC and ROFC now they have found so much common ground and both events are well attended – maybe some ‘mixer events’ or ‘reporters’ giving updates on what happening is in other parts of Oxford would have been interesting.
That said, from what we can work out, the emerging themes are driving and engaging with lots to mull over as we press on into 2023. For those that want an England Marketing eye view, here is what we took from it...
BROKEN SUPPLY CHAINS
How do we find the right approach to get more whilst doing less; with higher output whilst having a smaller environmental footprint
More technology is being tested and investment is available however uptake is slow
If you know your constraints, then you can start to be creative however uncertainty around ELMs for example, limits progressions
NATURAL CAPITAL WILL SHIFT THE BALANCE OF POWER…JUST NOT YET
A need for both regulation and investment to create success along the supply chain
Reporting on both carbon and nature is challenging at present
More trials for nature-based solutions required
BALANCING COMMERCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL GAIN IS NOT THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF FARMERS
Every part of the supply chain has a role to play to succeed
Multifunctional landscapes: Do we have the same definition for ‘public money for public good’?
How do we scale up a local food economy mindset to help with environmental and commercial gain?
PERCEPTION OF HOW FARMERS ARE VIEWED IS NEEDED
In parts of Europe, Farmers and Horticulturalists are seen in the same light as doctors, from the impact they have on the population
Stories can be powerful: we are all storytellers
What does it mean to be a farmer? This is an evolving identity as more non-food production aspects are becoming incorporated into the industry
Georgie’s main highlights from the OFC included the vast number of new people she met who come from a variety of roles in this expansive industry, from first-generation farmers to vertical farming operations; there are opportunities available in agriculture for everyone and skillset. Both team members felt the talk by Sir Tim Smit, who founded the Eden Project in Cornwall, titled ‘Farmers Leading the Battle for Soil and Soul’ was a fantastic way to end the first day of the conference. It reminded us that even though we work in different areas of the industry, we care about the same things; the land and the people we provide for...and that disruption is not the worst thing that could happen.
If you would like to hear more of our thoughts and what other events we are planning to attend this year, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org