As usual, the year kicked off with the biggest event of the calendar for us, the Oxford Real Farming Conference. For some it was a challenging turnaround from the hazy heads of 1st January to setting up a stand and greeting fellow delegates on the 2nd, but as ever, it was well worth the effort.
Featured again on Radio 4’s Farming Today and attended (for the second year) by Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, ORFC has come a long way in only 10 years, on its mission to establish ‘real’ farming as the norm.
during Michael Gove’s session
Two of the WWOOF UK team (Scarlett and Nim) have now become regular faces at the event but for Tony Chalcraft, Chair of Trustees, it was his first time. ‘I was amazed at the amount of people’ he says, ‘1000 people taking part and 600 on the waiting list; that really says something about how highly ORFC is thought of. And there are such a wide range of topics, I can’t begin to summarise all the different things I went to and bits of information I picked up. In terms of our stand, it was great to speak to a number of volunteers whose lives have been changed by WWOOF.
Nim at our stand
‘A number of hosts also stopped by to say hello and as a host myself, it was very nice to meet them and chat. One of my reflections was noticing the tensions between those who wanted to promote dialogue with political leaders and more conventional farmers, and those that were very much against it. I have some views but I can see it is a difficult one. Yes, a very inspiring, educational and thought-provoking event.’
You can see a great four minute highlight video and more details about the conference here.
photos: Scarlett Penn