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The Marches Real Food and Farming Conference: 15th - 16th September

Jane Cullen

16 Sept 2023

Our reflections on this fantastic ground breaking local food conference

The Conference held at Partridge Farm, near Bishop’s Castle, was a greatly enjoyable day and showed many exciting projects to a new audience –  if you are at all interested in your food, where it comes from, how it is grown, how far it has travelled to get to you – you know all the issues - here were practical, pragmatic and possible models that deserve to be known, and adopted, much more widely. 


The dung beetle safari, led by Claire Whittle who is a farm veterinary surgeon specialising in conservation medicine and regenerative agriculture, demonstrated how dung beetles not only make the structure of the soil much better but rather amazingly also reduce parasite organs in livestock. Claire’s enthusiasm and knowledge lit up those on safari.


Another eye opener was the Johnson-Su Reactor which Kate Gatacre opened and described. Although I could not build one in my small urban garden anyone with a bit more space could: all you need is an old pallet, some lengths of drainpipe, wire, fleece, sawdust, green waste and some space. The beautiful, crumbly, clean- smelling compost which was dug out was absolutely perfect. 

Having experience as a producer I went to the session on Market Linkage, which followed the path between local producers Tish Dockerty and Jan Morgan-Birtles, who trade regularly at the ‘Local to Ludlow’ Market, and a Food Hub in Birmingham, via Slow Food and the Open Food Network. It’s good to see technology making these links quick and practical - for the good of all.


Lizzie and Jane Hulton-Harrop also gave an excellent presentation as they charted their move into Regenerative Farming. Pollardine Farm’s soil fertility is improving, rapidly responding to changes in their practice – the first one being a really good rest for the land. There’s much more to hear about this project and the careful research behind the changes, look out for our forthcoming video of the climate and Nature related work being done at Pollardine Farm - which will be available soon. 

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