29th May 2023
Since 2008 the OF&G annual on-farm conference has brought together people from across the food and farming community and from all over the British Isles, Europe and beyond.
This one-day event is always held on a successful organic farm business with the aim of discussing the practical challenges and opportunities faced by UK organic farmers specifically and also the wider UK organic sector.
This event is open to all farmers who have an interest in exploring regenerative and organic techniques.
We hope you can join us.
Chairing the morning presentations will be the respected journalist and publisher, Ben Briggs.
Ben will be known to many as the long-time editor for the Farmers Guardian and who is now the Group publisher and editor-in-chief at Agriconnect, the publisher with titles including the Farmers Guardian, Arable Farming and the Dairy Farmer.
Joining Ben will be OF&G’s chief executive, Roger Kerr.
Roger’s long career in food and farming began with his student days at Harper Adams in the 1980’s and progressing on to and helping establish Calon Wen, a Welsh organic dairy farmers co-operative, in 2000, which secured the first ever branded organic milk listing in a UK major retailer. Roger is also chair of the UK certifiers group, the UK representative on the IFOAM Organics Europe Council and a Director of the Organic Trade Board.
Our host this year is an organic farmer who has held an organic certificate for more than twenty years.
Mark Lea has developed a suite of innovative enterprises on his family farm in Shropshire.
These include a flock of New Zealand Romney sheep, oats for Organic Arable and oat miller, White’s, and peas for Hodmedods, an independent business founded in 2012 to source and supply beans and other products solely from British farms.
Mark has around two dozen different cereal varieties for visitors to look at. These include some of the oldest wheats recorded in Britain, but also some very recent varieties, and cereal populations working with the old and the new. NOC23 will look at the whole of the farming experience from seed to shelf.
Joel will talk in great detail about the science and practice of soil management as an integral part of a biological, whole system approach to farming.
Garethe Hughes will be taking us through the Open Food Network’s open source software designed for food producers and community food hubs.
Garethe will be joined by businesses who are using the OFN platform.
An experienced organic vegetable grower Garethe is based in Derbyshire. Bringing 15 years of IT development experience, with Open Food Network Garethe is the technical lead for the Food Data Collaboration Project, liaising with the Data Food Consortium in France and other technical partners in the UK.
Stephen Briggs is a first generation farmer who has been farming organically for more than twenty years.
A Nuffield Farming Scholar who also has an MSc in Soil Science, Stephen is Head of Technical Development at Innovation for Agriculture, and co-director of Abacus Agriculture.
Stephen will present work being done in the UK with the Climate farm demo – A network of 130 Climate Demo Farms will be established in the UK, which will be coordinated by IfA, in collaboration with ADAS and Abacus.
The Climate Farm Demo project creates a unique pan-European Network of Pilot Demo Farms to enable peer-to-peer learning and implementation of Climate Smart Farming solutions to adapt agricultural production to climate change and go towards carbon neutral EU agricultural sector.
Bringing genetic diversity and seed breeding back into the hands of farmers and growers the UK Grain Lab will present the latest work on genetically diverse cereal varieties and recognising the importance of heterogeneous grain & cereal production in UK seed legislation.
On the panel from the UKGL collective will be Dr Charlotte Bickler from the Organic Research Centre, John Turner who farms organically in Lincolnshire with his brother Guy and was a founding member of Pasture for Life, Josiah Meldrum is a co-director of Hodmedods, Dr Edward Dickin is crop lecturer at Harper Adams University and a keen plant breeder, author and baker Henrietta Inman, and OF&G’s business development manager Steven Jacobs who is also the curator of the National Organic Conference.
On the farm walk taking place in the afternoon we will take visitors around the newest plantation of agroforestry at Green Acres Farm with the Woodland Trust’s Outreach Adviser Jack Starbuck.
It’s great to welcome back Dr Julia Cooper who has recently been appointed Principal Researcher at the Organic Research Centre. Julia will be joined by ORC colleagues Henny Lowth and Dr Charlotte Bickler. A topic very close to the hearts of all organic growers, weed control as part of a biological approach to food production will feature on the NOC farm walk with the Oper8 project the ORC are running in conjunction with ADAS.
Organic Arable’s Dominic Amos will present the results of crop trials including LiveWheat legacy and the LiveOat. And Henny Lowth will be looking in detail at the Living Mulch trial.
OF&G Certification Officers will be on the farm all day which gives you, our licensees, the opportunity to have a chat, which for some of you, and some of the team here at OF&G will mean being able to meet in person for the first time.
Organic Arable will be hosting a moisture meter calibration service and helping us with presenting details on the farm walk that will take place in the afternoon.
On 3 July we have the opportunity to visit the nearby Harper Adams University to have a guided tour of the crop variety plots including naked barley and intercropping trials for CROPDIVA and a demonstration of field strip intercropping using the Hands Free Hectare autonomous vehicle. If you wish to join us that day please make it clear on your booking form.
Shropshire based and family owned restaurant, CSONS will be serving a light breakfast to all delegates on arrival and a superb two-course lunch prepared with some of the finest British organic ingredients and even sourcing part of the meal from our host farm.
This event now in its sixteenth year is shaping up to be a very useful day out, with visitors getting a lot of detailed information while also having plenty of time to meet old friends and make new acquaintances.
The National Organic Conference is supported by: