ORFC22 Reflections & Challenges New Entrants Face in Building a Farming Career

Attendees Discussion of Barriers + Challenges

With the Christmas holidays and New Year celebrations inevitably ending, stepping into January and finding one’s rhythm again with workload and focus takes time. For us, we find it’s made that much easier with the jam-packed awe-inspiring annual Oxford Real Farming Conference. Like most years, we attended all three days (05th-07th Jan) of the conference and were again blown away with the diversity of topics, global speakers and partners involved. We partnered with the Biodynamic Land Association and ran our own session – Science, Biodynamics and Regenerative Agriculture (which can be found on the ORFC YouTube page), and discussed all things theory and practice of Biodynamics and how as a method of farming it can offer a regenerative path to the myriad of environmental and health crises. A huge thanks to facilitator Adam Stanyer and speakers Dr Richard Gantlett from Yatesbury House Farm, Marina O’Connell from the Apricot Centre at Huxhams Cross Farm, Dan Powell from the Biodynamic Association, and Briony Young preparations maker from Tablehurst Farm.  

One of the sessions we wanted to draw from as being particularly relevant to our work in the Land Trust was the ‘Building a New Entrant Community Network?. We heard from the Land Workers Alliance, FLAME, and Community Supported Agriculture Network about the challenges of entering agroecological farming in the UK, the work that is being done to support individuals from all backgrounds to access land, training, and finance.

This session was conducive to sharing and learning from a diversity of experiences. Paying particular attention to the barriers people experience and the support people feel they need. To give an overview of some of the thoughts people shared in this session we’ve compiled a ‘sticky note collage’ in the diagram above. We found there to be an interesting mix of common challenges people face and were pleased to hear how other organisations are building support services and collaborating across networks.

Key Session Points:

  • Community Supported Agriculture Network (CSA) is a good model for new entrant farmers. The foundation of the network is building partnerships between farmers and consumers where responsibilities and risks are shared equally. CSA is self-reliant and a great model for new entrants with little start-up capital. Members commit to buying produce for a whole season and really get to know their farmer and the source of their produce.    
  • Land Workers Alliance and Shared Assets have joined partnership to gain deeper knowledge on the challenges and opportunities of access to land for new entrants. The knowledge gained will support the new £1.27m partnership project: Resilient Green Spaces being led by Social Farms & Garden. To provide a vital source of knowledge including your challenges and needs head here and take the survey.  
  • If you’re based in Scotland, then check out the free Scottish Land Matching Service which exists to connect land seekers and landowners that are looking to make the next step in their land-based careers.

Watch this space for next week’s blog where we’ll be taking a deep dive into some of the issues raised in the ‘Building a New Entrant Network’ session – providing a roadmap of answers to some of the ways the BD Land Trust are tackling these issues and further resources for those who are actively looking for land and community support. 

Meanwhile, we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences and find ways that we can further support you!

Share and send your comments to gabriel@biodynamiclandtrust.org.uk or info@biodynamiclandtrust.org.uk

Published by: Amber Lawes-Johnson

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