January and the coming spring will see plenty of events for organic farmers and growers to attend.
An English event that Irish organic producers regularly attend is coming up later on this month; “Common ground: agroecology, food sovereignty and organic farming in practice” is the topic of the 10th Organic Producers’ Conference at the Novotel in Bristol, January 27-28, held in tandem with the SOLID organic dairy conference on the 26th and 27th in the same venue, to allow participants attend both.
According to the organisers, the Elm Park Organic Research Centre, “The annual Organic Producers’ Conference is the event where organic and other producers interested in ecological approaches to sustainable food production come together with researchers and advisers to share ideas on making agriculture perform better, for their businesses and society.
“This year we will focus on what we have in common as organic, biodynamic, permaculture, agroecology and food sovereignty movements, and how we can communicate our shared values to deliver better food, farming and health.”
“As usual, we have a range of practical technical sessions, on the themes of new entrants/converters, arable, horticulture, grassland, and food policy/sovereignty.”
The SOLID dairy conference is aimed at farmers, consultants, scientists, dairy processors and feed producers.
SOLID stands for Sustainable Organic and Low Input Dairying.
The target producers are at the low-input and grassland end of the dairy spectrum, and Irish organic dairy farmers would fit into this category well.
The SOLID project has been running since 2011.
It combines farm-relevant research and questions of sustainability.
The latter involved developing what they call a “Rapid Assessment of Sustainability”.
This was developed from studying 102 dairy cow and goat farms in nine EU countries.
Workshops were held with farmers to discuss these results, while the farmers in turn made suggestions for research priorities to enhance the sustainability of organic and low input dairy farms in the EU.
The SOLID event will cover, on day one, practical aspects of farming such as cow health, breed choice and breeding, as well as broader questions of low input milk production in the north west of Europe.
Day two — also the first day of the Producers Conference in Bristol — sees the discussion turn to dairy nutrition, forage production, getting the mineral balance right, homeopathy and animal health and growing your own feed.
The Producers Conference opens with a broad attempt to bring the various ‘better farming’ strands together.
Then the workshops get very practical.
The focus turns to business tools for newly organic farmers; dealing with weeds, soil testing, etc.
There’s also a workshop on food sovereignty.
After this, succession/land access; the benefits of pulses; fruit and viticulture; and agroecology, are workshop themes.
The final day — January 28 — opens with the digital food revolution, while other workshop options include protected cropping, sustainability, and seed sovereignty.
The final set of workshops cover customer satisfaction (consistency and quality of supply); soil (structure and organic matter); tree planting on livestock farms; organic growers and soil carbon; and food quality (nutrition).
The event’s closing plenary considers communicating shared values.
About 100 are expected to attend the SOLID conference, while upwards of 200 are expected for the Producers Conference.
They are affordable: SOLID is £35, while day tickets for the producer’s conference are either £90 or £120, depending on how early you book.
For more, see www.organicresearchcentre.com or call Phil Sumption at 0044-1488658298 (extension 533).
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