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Insights from Oxford Real Farming Conference 2024

News | Published  12 January 2024

Celebrating its 15th year, the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) 2024 brought an exciting opportunity for the food and farming sector to come together and share progressive ideas on food system transformation.

This year’s Oxford Real Farming Conference brought us a rich and inclusive online and in-person programme, delving into topics ranging from food sovereignty and climate justice, to food policy and nature friendly farming. Since its inception in 2010, the ORFC has evolved significantly, generating considerable buzz. This year we saw 3,500 people come together from all corners of the world, participating in talks and practical workshops collectively challenging the status quo of the journey from farm to fork.

ORFC 2024 provided two days of thought provoking discussions, leaving the Eating Better team buzzing with fresh enthusiasm and inspiration for change. The resounding message of the event was clear: farmers must be at the heart of food system transformation. Achieving healthy and sustainable diets for all is only possible in a system where our farmers drive the change from the ground up, and we must be ready to support their efforts. 

A closed alliance breakfast with Eating Better members, including the farmers in the Nature Friendly Farming Network, reminded us that we are all aiming towards the same outcomes for health, animal welfare, climate, nature and social justice, even if sometimes we use different words! The team at Eating Better are committed to spending 2024 continuing to build consensus across the alliance on the food future we want to achieve together.

ORFC 2024 news from across the alliance

Landworkers Alliance launch a new report on opportunities for horticulture in the UK 

Eating Better alliance members Sustain and Landworkers Alliance explored how agroecological horticulture can reduce our reliance on imports and build a more resilient fresh produce sector. Their new report ‘Horticulture across the four nations’ suggests a vision for upscaling the number of agroecological market gardens in the UK, with tailored policy recommendations for each of the four nations. The session brought together a number of innovative growers, taking a deep dive into all things horticulture as the speakers addressed the current barriers and opportunities within the sector.  Check out the recording of the session at ORFC here.

Nature Friendly Farming Network examined farming policy across the four nations

Devolved governments across the UK are currently developing and implementing ambitious agri-environmental schemes in the wake of the UK’s exit from the European Union and Common Agricultural Policy.  In a session chaired by Eating Better alliance member Sustain, four NFFN farmers from across the UK came together to discuss progress on agricultural policy, opportunities for defining what ‘better’ looks like, and what our farmers require from us in order to facilitate a transition to nature friendly farming. Give the session a watch here.

NFFN, RSPB and the Soil Association tackled the topic of food system transformation

What is needed to shift the narrative on food systems? What are the opportunities for land-use? And how will this affect diets? These are just some of the questions tackled during the insightful panel entitled ‘Joining forces to shift the narrative for food and farming’. The panel recognised that while many organisations within the food and farming movement look to the same end goal, our means to get there may differ. For an honest and open debate, watch the session here

The Eating Better alliance was well represented within the list of speakers at ORFC 2024. Catch up on what you missed from across the alliance here: 

Ensuring a just transition for food and farming: 

  • From Corporations to Communities: Tipping the balance of power in decision making about our food, Landworkers Alliance - here
  • Land as Reparations and How to Get There, Feedback - here 
  • Perennial Veg: Promise and Propagation, Soil Association - here
  • Organising for Migrant Workers Justice in the UK, Landworkers Alliance - here 
  • Shifting the Narrative from a Cost of Living Crisis to a Cost of Profit Crisis, Landworkers Alliance - here 
  • Women Feed the World, Landworkers Alliance - here 
  • Food Sovereignty Reloaded: how does it look today, Landworkers Alliance - here
  • The Search for Common Ground: Reconciling Farming and Academic Research, Landworkers Alliance - here
  • Growing Without Borders: Launching an Asian-Afro Caribbean Crops Network, Soil Association - here.
  • Building a Global Peasants Movement: 10 Years of LWA and 30 Years of LVC, Landworkers Alliance - here 
  • Developing a New International Trade Framework and Protecting Peasants' Rights, Landworkers Alliance - here.
  • The Role of Agroecological Farming in the Transition to Net Zero, Food Foundation - here.

Opportunities for policy and government:

  • Demonstrating Leadership through Local Authorities, Food Foundation - here
  • Influencing Farm Policy in Every Nation, Sustain, NFFN - here 
  • A Future Government’s Farming Programme: Building a Movement for Change, Pasture for Life, Landworkers Alliance, NFFN - here

Farm level change:

  • Farm deep dive with Rebecca Mayhew, Pasture for Life - here
  • Farm Deep Dive with Johnnie Balfour, Pasture for Life - here

You can view all the recorded sessions here.

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