The Northern Real Farming Conference

The Northern Real Farming Conference will take place for the first time at the end of September 2020. Inspired by the Oxford Real Farming Conference the Lancaster FoodFutures team (North Lancashire’s Sustainable Food Network) has been the driving force behind the event.

The NRFC team also includes Advisory Group members and a coordinator for the conference who is employed by LESS.

While we are currently planning the first ‘event’ we hope that this is just the beginning of the journey or ‘movement’ and that the legacy of this event will be long-lasting, particularly in terms of networks, projects, case studies, visibility and understanding of what the northern real farming community can and does provide.

Philosophy and Principles

‘Real Farming’ is shorthand for agriculture that is expressly designed to provide everyone, everywhere with food of the highest standards of nutrition and gastronomy, without cruelty or injustice and without adversely affecting other people and the biosphere both now and in the future.

The ‘Real Farming’ events explore transformative strategies, theories, approaches, and practical and progressive actions that move us toward this vision.

Three basic concepts underpin ‘real farming’:

  • Economic democracy – such that decision making is taken locally by stakeholders such as farmers, communities, customers rather than vested global corporations
  • Food sovereignty – the idea that individuals and communities everywhere must have control over their own food supply
  • Agroecology–where farms are conceived as ecosystems and agriculture as a whole is seen as a key component of the biosphere.

In today’s world, particularly as we grapple with the impacts of Covid-19, ‘Real Farming’ is transformative, involving all aspects of modern life–moral, spiritual and ecological.

Who is the conference for?

A Real Farming conference is intended for primarily for farmers, with a rich mix of scientists, academics, policy makers, conservationists and other NGOs, and people who love and value good local food.


Advisory and Planning Team

We are grateful to the advisory and planning team for their input and time in putting together and organising the first event:

  • Andy Goldring, Permaculture Association
  • Anna Clayton, FoodFutures and LESS
  • Ellen Pearce, NRFC Coordinator
  • Francesca Price, Oxford Real Farming Conference
  • Melanie Fryer, FoodFutures and Agroecology
  • Neil Heseltine, Hill Top Farm and Pasture for Life Association
  • Mick Marston, Gibside Community Farm and CSA Network UK
  • Nina Moeller, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University
  • Rachel Marshall, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University and FoodFutures
  • Rebecca Whittle, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University and FoodFutures
  • Ruth West, Oxford Real Farming Conference
  • Rod Everett, Backsbottom Farm and FoodFutures
  • Suzy Russell, Community Supported Agriculture