I'm not a farmer. In fact, it's been more than 6 months since I last worked on a farm, and I don't currently have any plans to go back to farming.
So why, you may ask, did I go to a farming conference?
Because I really care about our food system, and that starts with farming. The right kind of farming. The Oxford Real Farming Conference (or the ORFC as its known) might not be the catchiest of names, but when you find out it was started in response to the Oxford Farming Conference, a very conventionally minded conference focusing on high tech solutions and global markets, sponsored by corporations such as McDonalds, it starts to make sense. A group of people got together, passionate that there is an alternative to the current farming norm. From in depth sessions on specific research and ideas such as mob grazing and agro-forestry, to dialogues about land access and policy changes, the ORFC is about dreaming of an Agrarian Resistance, then working together to get there.
Yes, there are an incredible number of interesting and educational talks and sessions across a breadth of subjects. Yes, it's an opportunity to meet other farmers and people working in the food system and exchange ideas and knowledge. But it's so much more than this. It's about being part of something bigger than your farm or project. It's about being part of a movement.
The Locavore is small. It's just me, my dictaphone and my camera, going to meet farmers and producers. Most days it feels like it doesn't matter, that nothing will change as part of the words I write. But at the ORFC it fits into a complicated web of projects and ideas, connects it to the bigger picture, and together I believe we can change things.
THAT is why I went to the ORFC.