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Britain's biggest farming conference kicks off in Oxford today

The Business Magazine article image for: Britain's biggest farming conference kicks off in Oxford today
4 January 2023

More than 650 delegates will be in Oxford city centre today for the 77th Oxford Farming Conference.

“Farming a New Future”, which runs from 4 to 6 January, will also welcome hundreds more online as the organisers host the conferences first hybrid offering.

Conference chair, Emily Norton, said: "For two long years the conference has been in ‘broadcast mode’, joining the rest of the world in working remotely and putting world-class content online. We have run two challenging but successful digital conferences, as well as a Bitesize webinar series, creating thousands of virtual impressions. But we all feel the excitement for being together with the extended Oxford family."

This year's headline sponsor is Trinity Natural Capital Group.

Director of Business Development for Trinity AgTech, Anna Woodley said: “We’re incredibly excited and honoured to be selected as the Headline Sponsor for OFC23. The optimistic tone of this year's conference, ‘Farming a New Future’ mimics our own values. We believe in a bright future for UK agriculture; an increasing societal awareness around natural capital is creating opportunities and new potential income streams for farmers.

“We believe that working collectively across the industry, and by sharing ideas and learnings, that tomorrow will be much better than the past for UK agriculture, and that together we can certainly create an increasing societal awareness around the importance of a healthy and resilient food and farming sector.”

Speakers at the conference include Jamie Butler a Hampshire farmer whose most recent project has been developing a wetland to improve water quality and offer nitrate credits to developers, who require mitigation to build houses in The Solent region and Kate Hofman Founder and Brand Director, GrowUp Farms

Also speaking is Kate Hofman, who founded Kent-based GrowUp Farms almost a decade ago, starting with a greenhouse on top of a shipping container and cycling across London at 5am to deliver their salads into Borough Market.

She has an MSc in Environmental Technology & Business from Imperial College, where she discovered vertical farming.

Two years late, the business developed and purchased an electric van, selling salads and leafy greens to shops and restaurants across the city. Their core objective was and continues to be, to make sustainable food accessible to more people - fantastic quality salad, at an affordable price, and still meet the highest standards for environmental and social sustainability.

After more than nine years on their never-ending quest for the perfect leaves, their 4th farm, Pepperness, in Kent is bringing their tastier, longer-lasting salad to the supermarket shelf at everyday prices. The farm, previously a disused brownfield site, now offers the equivalent of 1,000 acres of Grade 1 farmland.

Jacqueline McGlade FLS, FRSA is Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Oxford-based Downforce Technologies, and Professor of Public Policy and Natural Prosperity at University College London UK and Strathmore University in Kenya.

Previously she was the UN Environment Program’s Chief Scientist and former Executive Director of the European Environment Agency.

Her expertise is in nature-based solutions to food security and climate adaptation and mitigation, marine plastics and oceans health, the circular bioeconomy, natural capital modelling, and intergenerational prosperity.

She is an advisor to the European and UK Space Agencies and has designed geospatial, fuzzy logic and AI applications such as Flood Ranger and SimCoast for decision-making under high degrees of uncertainty.

Other speakers include Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project, Daniel Zeichner the Shadow Minister for Farming, Food, Fisheries and Rural Affairs, Baroness Kate Rock who chaired The Rock Review into the agricultural tenanted sector which was commissioned by the Defra Secretary of State and published last October, and Danielle Nierenberg a world-renowned researcher and speaker on all issues relating to our food system and agriculture. Danielle is President of Food Tank and an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues.

 


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Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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