#54: Land reform, stewardship, community ownership and land justice

At the time of writing, the Coronavirus has forced us all to adjust to a rapidly-changing marketplace, and a lot of uncertainty in UK farming. While we can’t be out reporting from the fields at the moment, we begin this episode by sharing some messages from farmers and growers coming together at this time, and we have plenty of interviews stashed away in the hopper, so we will continue to bring you stories from the frontline of regenerative farming!

This month, we continue our focus on inspiring stories from the Oxford Real Farming Conference, focusing on land reform, stewardship, community ownership, and land justice. Our first conversation is with Molly Scott Cato, a former Green MEP, who shares her thoughts on land reform in the UK after attending a session with other political parties at ORFC. Molly shares her concerns with our current model of land ownership, where land access is not equal to all, with huge swathes of countryside instead inherited down family lines.

Next, we hear from Ninian Stuart, co-founder of the Centre for Stewardship, who shares his family’s learnings from exploring different kinds of ownership on their estate. We talk about the resulting land stewardship scheme on Ninian’s land in Scotland, the diversity that it brings to the land, and why he feels ‘owning’ land is a funny concept.

We then chat to Sebastian Parsons of the Stockwood Community Benefit Society. Sebastian is another landowner who’s doing things differently! We learn about his experience in moving his family farm to community ownership, and how these dynamic structures can support both the farmer and the investors.

Next, we hear Leah Penniman and Ọlá Ayòrindé in conversation about land injustices and repairing colonial trauma through relationship with the land. Leah is the co-founder of Soul Fire Farm in New York, and Ọlá is the co-founder of Land In Our Names (LION), an organisation addressing land injustices in the UK, and seeking to reimagine a system where people of colour can live off the land in ways which care for the soil, the surrounding biodiversity and themselves.

Finally, we share exciting news of a chance for you to get actively involved in a shared land ownership model. The Ecological Land Cooperative are currently offering the opportunity to join them as an investor member right now! If you’re interested, follow this link for more information. 

This episode was written and edited by Suzie McCarthy and Hanna Soderlund, and presented by Abby Rose, Katie Revell Jo Barratt. Featured interviews were recorded by Darla Eno and Cathy St German at ORFC 2020. Community support for Farmerama is provided by Hanna Soderlund, Fran Bailey, Annie Landless, Eliza Jenkins and Olivia Oldham. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

#53: Storytelling, Nutrient Density, Fashion Connections & Community Farms

Photo credit: Save Trecadwgan Farm Facebook page

This month, we bring you the first of 3 special episodes focusing for the most part on stories from the Oxford Real Farming Conference, or ORFC. This year, we were delighted to be the ORFC’s official media partner.

First, we hear from writer and storyteller Georgia Wingfield-Hayes about why storytelling and myth-making are crucial to the regenerative farming movement. At ORFC, Georgia shared a story called ‘The Herdsman’, a true story which shows what cheap food is doing to the land, the animals and the people involved in its production.

Next, we speak to Matt Adams, a deep ecologist, and who is working with public health and nutrition specialist Elizabeth Westaway, about to launch a their new initiative called Growing Real Food for Nutrition—Grffn for short—which is bringing to the UK the work of Dan Kittredge and the Bionutrient Food Association

Then we share the work of fashion designer Alice Robinson, who has created two innovative accessory collections, re-awakening the connections between fashion and farming. Each collection is made solely from one animal, and using all parts of the animal without a scrap wasted. We’re helping get Fibreshed UK started, so if you are interested in being involved then tune in to future Farmerama episodes and we’ll keep you in the loop.

Finally, we share an urgent call for councils across the UK to recognise the value of real farming through the story of the Save Trecadwgan Farm campaign in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Trecadwgan has been a council farm for nearly 100 years, but now the council has decided to sell it off. A group from the local community and beyond, including farmer Gerald Miles and Sam Roddick, are fighting to buy Trecadwgan and turn it into a community farm. 

Farmerama is made by Jo Barratt, Abby Rose, and Katie Revell. In this episode there were interviews by Darla Eno and editing by Louis Hudson. Community support is provided by Hanna Soderlund, Fran Bailey, Annie Landless, Eliza Jenkins and Olivia Oldham. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt. We also heard some music recorded at this year’s ORFC from a session led by Robin Grey at St Aldate’s Church.

‘Cereal’ #6: Grain Futures

We are the bread system. If you eat bread – or any grains – you are part of it.

So how can we all get involved, and what can we do to usher in the new grains movement to build joy, nutrition and resilience in all of our communities?

In this final episode, we explore what a more efficient, nutritious, regenerative and joyful bread system might look like. We hear some of the ways people are coming together and building networks to strengthen the movement in the UK and further afield.

It’s clear that in this beautifully complex, entangled system, even just a conversation can spark much wider change. This is a story of hope and a blueprint that has the potential to cause reverberations far beyond bread. It turns out that bread is political – and you, too, can take a stand for the world you want to live in. 

This might be our final episode of Cereal, but it isn’t the end – it’s just the beginning! Join the new grains movement. Talk to your local bakers, seek out local millers, thank your farmers, be open-minded, be curious.

A huge thank you to everyone who’s contributed to Cereal. As well as the voices you hear in this episode, many more conversations have helped to shape the series. Thanks to Andrew Whitley (Scotland the Bread), Kim Bell (Small Food Bakery and UK Grain Lab), Mark Lea (Greenacres Farm), Fred Price (Gothelney Farmer), Steven Jacobs (Organic Farmers & Growers), Ben MacKinnon (E5 Bakehouse), Anne Parry (Felin Ganol), Rupert Dunn (Torth y Tir), Josiah Meldrum (Hodmedods), Tomaso Ferrando (University of Antwerp) and Fintan Keenan. Thanks also to the Lost Revellers and everyone who came to the Nottingham Cereal launch harvest party and lent their voices to make the Flour Ambassador’s Pledge.

This series was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Roddick Foundation. Please listen, share, review and subscribe, and support the farmers instigating change. All six episodes can be found on Soundcloud and all podcasting platforms. And if you’d like to support Farmerama, visit patreon.com/farmerama.

Cereal is produced and edited by Katie Revell, with support from Abby Rose and Jo Barratt. Suzie MacCarthy and Hanna Söderlund also worked on the series. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

‘Cereal’ #5: The best thing since sliced bread? Unsliced bread

The UK is the fifth largest economy and has some of the cheapest bread in the world – is that something to be proud of, or is it a convenient outcome of a system that prioritises shareholder profit, fobs off economically deprived people with poor quality food, and throws away a third of what it produces? 

It’s so ingrained in us that cheap food is better for everyone, but in this episode we ask you to stop and really think – are we supporting a system that is efficient for lining the pockets of a few, whilst impoverishing everyone else? 

What if the real cost is our collective health, and the health of the planet? 

Bread is not just money, bread is nourishment, deliciousness, companionship, connectedness, pride, politics.

In this episode we hear from bakers up and down the UK who are redefining the value of bread. Bakers who are making a stand for their communities and the planet. Bakers from some of the most economically deprived areas who are bringing meaning, intention and joy to their baking. Bakers who are being recognised for their craft and sharing the benefits with their local communities. 

This is about food networks, not food chains — this is about reaching true efficiency that takes into account the whole system (health, environment, waste, community, joy), not just the financial balance sheet.

The radical changes that bread has undergone are revealing of much wider truths about our relationships with food, to farmers, with the land, the environment, and with each other. If you eat food, you have a stake in this story.

A huge thank you to everyone who’s contributed to Cereal – as well as the voices you hear in this episode, many more conversations have helped to shape the series. Thanks to Chris MacCormack (Govanhill Bread Man), Theo Laffargue (Riverside Bakery), Catriona Milligan (High Rise Bakers), Kim Bell (Small Food Bakery and UK Grain Lab), Ben MacKinnon (E5 Bakehouse), and Rupert Dunn (Torth y Tir).

This series was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Roddick Foundation. Please listen, share, review & subscribe, and support the farmers instigating change. All six episodes can be found on Soundcloud and all podcasting platforms. And if you’d like to support Farmerama, visit patreon.com/farmerama.

Cereal is produced and edited by Katie Revell, with support from Abby Rose and Jo Barratt. Suzie MacCarthy and Hanna Söderlund also worked on the series. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt. 

‘Cereal’ #2: Nature Hates Uniformity

Most bread we eat today is made using modern wheat varieties bred for uniformity and yield at the expense of our health and our soil. Just as our bread has changed, so have our seeds. 

In this week’s episode, Katie Revell takes us straight to the source and asks: in the face of a climate and health crisis, what seeds should we be sowing? Hear how people like Mark Lea of Greenacres Farm (pictured) are finding ways around oppressive laws and reviving heritage varieties in order to feed people with nutritious grains.

It might get a little technical in places, but stick with us — industrialised wheat covers an estimated 218 million hectares of the planet, more than any other food crop. If we are to feed to the planet in years to come, we need to work in sync with nature and embrace ecological farming systems that support DIVERSITY. 

A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to Cereal – as well as the voices you hear in this episode, many more conversations have helped to shape this series. Thanks to contributors Kim Bell (the founder of Small Food Bakery and UK Grain Lab), John Letts (Heritage Harvest), Andrew Whitley (Bread Matters, currently based at Bowhouse Fife, chairman of Scotland the Bread), Mark Lea (Greenacres Farm), Rupert Dunn (Torth y Tir), and Josiah Meldrom (Hodmedods). Thank you also to the Oxford Real Farming Conference for their archive recording of the late Professor Martin Wolfe.

This series was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Roddick Foundation. Please listen, share, review & subscribe, and support the farmers instigating change. Episodes are released each Sunday on Soundcloud and all podcasting platforms. And if you’d like to support Farmerama, visit patreon.com/farmerama

Cereal is produced and edited by Katie Revell, with support from Abby Rose and Jo Barratt. Suzie MacCarthy and Hanna Söderlund also worked on the series. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

‘Cereal’ #1: Flour, Water, Salt

Bread.

Once the cornerstone of our diet, bread is now, at best a guilty indulgence or, at worst, something to be completely avoided.

How did something so basic, so fundamental, get so complicated? Why are more and more people made sick by this age-old staple?

Introducing our critical new series, CEREAL. Farmerama’s Katie Revell travelled the country to find out how the needs of industrial production have come to dictate the way that seeds are bred, grain is grown, flour is milled, and bread is baked and eaten.

Episode 1 “Flour, Water, Salt”, released today, begins to unveil the truths behind how our bread is made today and its impact on human health and the planet.

We are introduced to the Real Bread Campaign and the bakers and researchers giving rise to a new grains movement that’s good for our soil and our guts.

The radical changes that bread has undergone are revealing of much wider truths about our relationships with food, to farmers, with the land, the environment, and with each other.

If you eat food, you have a stake in this story.

In this episode, we hear from Chris MacCormack – ‘Govanhill breadman’, Kimberley Bell – the founder of Small Food Bakery and UK Grain Lab, Chelsea Marshall  – Trustee of Scotland the Bread, Andrew Whitley – co-founder of Scotland the Bread and The Real Bread Campaign, and Theo Laffargue – baker at Riverside Bakery, Stirling.

Please listen, rate, review & subscribe, and support the movement. Thanks to the Roddick Foundation for their generous support to make this series possible. Episodes are released each Sunday on Soundcloud and all podcasting platforms. And if you’d like to support Farmerama, visit patreon.com/farmerama

Cereal is produced and edited by  Katie Revell, with support from Abby Rose and Jo Barratt. Suzie MacCarthy and Hanna Söderlund also worked on the series. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

Thanks to Christopher, Ross, Jess, Sabine and Euan for lending your voices. As well as the voices you hear in this episode, many more conversations have helped to shape this series, thank you to everyone involved!

#43: Children growers, travelling cow laboratory, silvopasture, and a taste of sustainable wine

Thank you Tasca D’Almerita for the photo!

This month, we learn about the importance of involving young children in food growing and a much-loved friend of the show shares some wisdom on cattle management. We get an introduction to the whole-system approach of silvopasture, and we taste some natural wine in Sicily.

First up, we heard from Deb Moses, a new farmer who champions the cause of involving the very young in food growing. She realised the power of gardening to inspire very young children when her own son was born, and was amazed to see just how much it changed their relationship to food and flavours when they got involved in growing.

Abby bumped into our old friend Greg Judy, an enthusiastic mob grazer based in Missouri after the Savanna Institute Perennial Farm Gathering in Wisconsin. He explained to her how his herd remineralises the land for him. He also shared his thoughts on running a single large herd all year round, including 50 bulls, to mimic what happens in nature.

Steve Gabriel, an ecologist, educator and forest farmer from the Finger Lakes region of New York was at the Oxford Real Farming Conference earlier this year. We caught up with him about his ideas on silvopasture, including some great tips on integrating trees, grasses and animals in a single system. Steve explained that the biggest challenge he has faced in setting up his own silvopasture system has been to get the trees established in the first place.

We joined a wine tasting session in Sicily with Fabrizia Lanza and Alberto Tasca. They are well-known in Italy for promoting sustainability and the use of indigenous grapes. Alberto shared with us his feelings on the importance of measurement, the value of knowledge sharing and the need to look beyond flashy story-telling. The Anna Tasca Lanza cooking school has a 10 week “Cook the Farm” program which runs each year.

Finally, a heads-up. Public consultation has finally begun on the “Good Food Nation Bill” in Scotland. Nourish Scotland has put together a really handy guide to the consultation questions. It includes simple explanations of the questions, as well as suggested responses, and you can find the guide on the Nourish website. If you’re in Scotland, take a few minutes to respond – but make sure you do so by the 29th of March when consultation closes.

Thank you to our supporters Rebel Kitchen. Rebel Kitchen chose to become a Certified B Corporation so they could stand up and be proudly measured against the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. They’re honoured to be part of this movement driving change and playing their part in solving world social and environmental problems. They believe in a future where companies not only compete to be the best in the world but also the best for the world.

Farmerama is made by Katie Revell, Jo Barratt and Abby Rose. Thank you Suzie McCarthy for editing support this month. Thank you to Claire Roberson, Sam McKeown and James Fryer for sending in recordings this month. Community support is by Annie Landless, Eliza Jenkins and Olivia Oldham, and our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

 

Leah Penniman: Farming While Black

In this special episode, brought to you by Chelsea Green Publishing, we hear from a super inspiring small-scale farmer, Leah Penniman. Leah is a farmer, activist, author and co-founder of Soul Fire Farm in New York: a family farm committed to restoring food-sovereignty and ending injustice in our food system. (Photo: Onion harvest on Soul Fire Farm credit:Leah Penniman).

In the last century, over 14 million acres of land in the US have been taken from the control of black farmers. Leah’s recent book, ‘Farming While Black’, published by Chelsea Green, is a stirring manifesto that aims to reconnect people of colour to the land, in sharing Afro-indigenous traditions and sustainable farming practices that have been aggressively undermined through slavery and colonialism. At Soul Fire Farm, innovative programmes such as the ‘Black-Latinx Farmers Immersion’ and a sliding-scale farmshare ‘CSA’, work to reverse systematic food injustice.

This is a story of one black woman embracing the land and activating a whole community to do the same. The book is at once fiercely political, deeply practical, and unashamedly spiritual, because as Leah shows us…. farming is ALL of those things.

The podcast is brought to you by Chelsea Green Publishing, the leading publisher of books on sustainable food and farming, including Farming While Black by Leah Penniman. To get this book and discover more great titles visit chelseagreen.com

This show is made by Katie Revell, Jo Barratt and Abby Rose. Thanks to Leah Penniman for sharing her recordings of field songs and Yabisi Asili for sharing his experiences. Community support is provided by Annie Landless and Eliza Jenkins.

#39: Beginner farmer tips, Piglet to Plate and small-scale farmers Feed the World

First up this month, farmer, writer and activist, Leah Penniman, of Soul Fire Farm in New York State, shares  3 top tips for farmers who are just starting out. We also hear how Leah is committed to the duty of stewarding life on her farm. Although she herself is a vegetarian, she keeps and kills animals on Soul Fire Farm and shares the knowledge of these practices with others. (The photo this month is from Soul Fire Farm. Credit: Leah Penniman.)

Leah has just written a book, Farming While Black, which is both a manifesto and a manual. It includes recipes, wisdom from diasporic African farmers, and practical techniques for setting up a small-scale farm.

You can hear much more from Leah in our special episode (out November 4th), brought to you by Chelsea Green Publishing, which digs deeper into her story of Farming While Black.

 

Continuing the somewhat taboo theme of killing animals, we hear from Millie Diamond in north Wales. Through her @piglet2plate Instagram account she candidly shares her experience of keeping, killing and eating her own pigs.

 

Next up, we head to London and the We Feed the World Exhibition on London’s South Bank. We hear from speakers on the opening night, including Theo Sowa of the African Women’s Development Fund. Theo tells us how the We Feed the World exhibition begins to challenge the dangerous myths of industrial agriculture and presents an alternative story about the passionate smallholders who understand and care for the land.

 

Finally Vandana Shiva shares with us some powerful reflections on what the We Feed the World exhibition means for all of us. She leaves us with her compelling call to action, stating that “it is not a luxury, but an imperative to defend the small-scale farmers of the world”!

We would like to thank Rebel Kitchen for supporting this episode. Rebel Kitchen are all about redefining health. But they have a different kind of health message, and we think that’s great. It’s a health message that doesn’t separate the individual from the whole, and that’s based on actions instead of preaching – because, as they point out, it’s all connected. Amen to that!

Farmerama is produced by Jo Barratt, Abby Rose, and Katie Revell. Social media is led by Annie Landless with Eliza Jenkins and Olivia Oldham, and the music is by Owen Barratt.

#33: Kitchen Table talks, Jersey soils, trade deals, pig clubs and bee-lieving

This month we have a political focus and still manage to squeeze in some brilliant stores of soils and microbes. Firstly we share some personal stories from a ‘kitchen table talk’, on what good food means to the people of Scotland. These Kitchen Table Talks are a way of enabling the public to feed their ideas into the Good Food Nation Bill, you can hear more about this initiative from Nourish Scotland in this Short.

We hop over to Jersey to hear from young farmer Justin Le Gresely at Anneville Farm about their first attempt to produce potatoes and vegetables with zero external inputs. He shares how they’re using microscopes and compost extracts to guide bacterial and fungal populations trying out an innovative approach to growing the island’s favourite potato, the Jersey Royal.

REMINDER: If you do live in the UK, then there’s only a few days left to respond to the consultation on the Agricultural Bill “Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit”, which sets out the government’s ambitions for farming in England and seeks the views of all readers on its proposals.

This will dictate government policy in farming (and food!) for many years to come, and now is the time to get your voice heard. Have your say here! It’s not just farmers who need to respond, but anyone who cares about the environment or eats food. So… that’s everyone, then.

Next we have an update from Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University London, in conversation with reporter Marianne Landzettel on ‘Green Brexit’ and trade deals.

We’re happy to revisit Jubilee Farm in Northern Ireland, to hear an update from their CSA and head farmer Jonny Hanson chats to Dr Jude Stephens, a smallholder-turned-lecturer at Queens University Belfast, about the promise of Pig Clubs — intrigued? We are!

The show ends with a catchy tune from the bee-lievers, ooh Mr Gove, we sincerely hope you’re listening. 🐝 🐖🍭🍏