The first Farmer Group Forum took place at FarmED earlier this month, an interactive, educational and social event for farm advisors and facilitators. Over 100 people attended from across the UK, sharing their vision for the future of farming and integrated landscape-style management.
During the course of the day there were 20 workshop sessions, plus four farm walks, case studies, roundtable panels and next step discussions.
Topics covered included:
Natural capital accounting
Monitoring and evaluation
Reducing farm pollution losses
Promoting regenerative agriculture
Tips and tricks for inspiring and motivating
Setting up and sustaining farmer groups
ELMS pilots - sharing experiences
ELMS as a catalyst
Landscape-scale approaches to carbon
Practical support for advisors
Assimilating complex information
Engaging with a wider audience
Speakers and workshop leaders included:
Tim Hopkin - Director, Landmanagement 2.0
Jemma Batten - Founder, Black Sheep Countryside Management
Tim Field - Lead Facilitator North East Cotswold Cluster Farm Group
Jonty Brunyee - Head of Sustainable Farming at FarmED
Lizzie Emmett - Lead Advisor, Upper Wensum Cluster Farm Group
Roger Draycott - Director of Advisory & Education, Game and Wild Conservation Trust
Jenny Phelps - Senior Farm Advisor, FWAGSW
Vicky Robinson - Principal Advisor and Lead on Local Nature Recovery, Natural England
Rob West - Farming in Protected Landscapes Officer, North Wessex Downs AONB
Very positive feedback was shared on social media:
Kirsty Brannan, Oakbank Game & Conservation: ‘Lots of vision, energy and cross pollination. Facilitation of environmental change at a landscape level can be amazing when set up for success.’
Dr Ruth Starr-Keddle, upland hay meadow restoration specialist: ‘It was very inspiring to feel part of a community of facilitators.’
Nick Marriner, Chilterns AONB: ‘Top day with other farmer cluster facilitators; time and space to meet, reflect and share just how much farmers working together can achieve and deliver on biodiversity, carbon and so many other issues’.
Sam Hanks and Jenny Rawson, SWT Farmland Wildlife Advice: ‘A very inspiring day, sharing ideas with facilitators and farmers. Highlights included sniffing soil at different regen stages, talking monitoring and baselines, learning about cluster approaches across the UK and landscape scale conservation. Thank you FarmED.’
Megan Lock, Farmland Biodiversity Advisor, Martin Down & Allenford Farmer Cluster Facilitator: ‘Great discussions in our monitoring and engagement workshop about data, surveying methods, engagement, feedback, apps, record centres and training’.
Jonty Brunyee said, ‘This was our biggest event at FarmED to date and what an event it was. There were sessions taking place all across FarmED, in the main conference hall, food hall, library and barn as well as outside on the farm. The atmosphere was wonderful.’
This is just the start. The organising team are now considering the needs of farm advisers and how they can come together to share knowledge and good practice. As the industry goes through a period of challenge and change, facilitation and collaboration will be more crucial than ever. Watch this space.