Join us this month to unfold new dialogues and build bridges at the Oxford REAL Farming Conference. Patrick Holden, of the Sustainable Food Trust, grows us a field-guide for the conference(s). We follow farmer Peter Lundgren and artist Anne-Marie Culhane through their rather unconventional art project – ‘A Field of Wheat‘ – sewing the seeds for new dialogues between farmers and other folk. We journey from a CSA in the grounds of a hospital to a healthier comeuppance for mixed cover crops tested by Peter Brown, director of the biodynamic association UK. All along the way we sing the songs of the land led by Robin Grey of 3 Acres and a Cow (intermingled with the lovely lone voice of one CSA farmer singing his version of the alphabet).
We are in a festive mood this month…spirits are high with some special guests making a late appearance in the show. New reporter Hannah Shlotah chats lettuce lawns and cruush compost with grower Alice Holden at one of London’s best known urban farms Growing Communities in Dagenham.
UK CSA Network board member, Robert Simpson. makes a comeback with his tips on polytunnels for goats that play with planning regulations. Ben Raskin brings us up to date on the newest varieties of blight resistant potatoes through one of the Innovative Farmers trials and we hear from a farmer without a farm… Pete of Corsham Grazing is a clever farmer with 300-odd sheep and a thriving business that benefits all the farmers in the area.
This month we hear about the challenges and successes for female farmers in Africa (and the UK), which has led to projects such as MAFGE (Male Advocacy for Gender Equality). Nigel reports from the milk protests in Brussels, which were incredibly hectic and fuelled by frustrated farmers determined to have their voices heard. Roving reporter Ben Raskin explores how Helen’s Bay Walled Garden, a beautiful wild old kitchen garden in Northern Ireland, is being brought back to life by David Love Cameron, a Raymond Blanc heritage garden scholar. And finally, we are treated to a collection of thoughts from a natural winemaker in Italy. The whole show, including escaping cows, is broadcast from the Sussex farm of longtime British farmers Monica and Fred Akehurst (and the original home of IndieFarmer).
We meet young Scottish crofters keeping cultural traditions alive, hear from a Lebanese farmer and South African harvester using alternative approaches to certification, dip our toes into sustainable seaweed harvesting along the coast of Ireland and bump into Autonomia Project as they wind their way by bike from Paris to Tokyo with a sack full of seeds. Find out about the inspiring projects and people we met on our trip to Slow Food Youth Network‘s We Feed the Planet at the Milan Expo last week.
Nigel, Jo and Abby take a close look at Natural Agriculture after a visit to the Shumei farm near Yatesbury. They also investigate some of the ways farms are trying to get local communities more interested in growing and farming. There’s a visit to a CSA farm near Swansea, a community garden in the midlands, and an urban farm in Bristol.
Farmerama Radio shares great stories from the smaller-scale farming movement in the UK. We are out in the field digging out what’s really going on. In episode one, we go to the annual CSA gathering to learn the ins and outs of community-supported agriculture, Nigel visits a Devon Water Buffalo farm and Zarah Rahman investigates the historical significance of seeds.