How the future of food and farming benefits from young people’s discussions
Last month I attended Farm Ed’s The Emergent Generation based in Oxfordshire, in collaboration with Cirencester’s Royal Agricultural University and WWF’s Land, Food and Farming Fund. It was great to return to the countryside where I grew up, for a moving three days!
Focusing on young people (18 to 26 years old), the Emergent Generation is a network of us who are passionate about food systems, enhancing our communities and protecting the environment, all being driven by desire for us all to have access to affordable and healthy food and nourishing lifestyles, and wanting to conserve the planet for future generations. Earlier in the year, Farm Ed held a smaller Emergent Generation focus group to hear from young people directly to share ideas and inspirations, before holding the first larger event in September.
The event hosted 46 speakers sharing their skills and knowledge to over 50 attendees, with an additional 70 attendees or more on the final day. Everyone had diverse backgrounds and originated from across the UK, making it very interesting space for discussion and learning.
We took part in a variety of workshops, from setting the scene with the challenges and problems facing us in the food and farming industry, to an introduction on agroecological and regenerative concepts (this is a farming practice that promotes diversity, circular economies, works with nature, mitigates climate changes, and gives power to farmers and local communities), and discussing how technology can be used to solve critical environmental and social challenges.
We learnt about the importance of good nutrition and how this links to farming, explored the complex issues surrounding the food system such as food policy and food insecurity. There was an incredibly powerful piece from Panellist, Joyti Fernandes, Landworkers Alliance on why we need a food sovereignty movement (principles that include valuing food producers, localising food systems, building knowledge and skills and working with nature).
Other workshops allowed us to gather practical takeaways learning more about developing a diverse organic farm business, how to create a market garden from scratch, foraging and dry-stone walling. We had a tour around Farm Ed and Conygree farm providing an opportunity to see regenerative concepts in action. On day 2 we had a choice of breakout sessions to cater to our interests and desires, those included exploring what being a young eco entrepreneur means, the power of Integrated Local delivery and why repairing the water cycle can assist with climate change, food production and community wellbeing. There was opportunities to hear more about small scale farming, how to bring something extraordinary to the everyday actions led by Immy Kaur (CivicSquare), Rob Shorter (Doughnut Economics Action Lab) and Zoya Ahmed (Room to Grow), communicating our story led by Author Anna Jones, and landworkers Alliance’s Youth Group FLAME (Food, Land, Agriculture: a Movement for Equality), National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, and Students Organising for Sustainability UK, led a workshop on collaboration and connection We were treated to nutritious food straight from the farm and other local businesses, and plenty of opportunities to connect with nature, whilst being able to hang out with likeminded young people! A highlight of the event was meeting Gerald Miles, a Pembrokeshire based farmer who told us stories of his activism whilst sat around the campfire.
One takeaway is that local initiatives that support community, collaboration, and connection is the way forward. We all have the power to support and provide for our own area.
A truly fabulous event to inspire and connect future change-makers. I can’t wait until the next one
Follow Fran on Twitter @FV_Nutrition.
To keep up to date with what´s going on in town, feel free to join our Facebook group by clicking here