Land Reform/Use

Farm walk: Working with farmers to balance environmental priorities and a profitable farm business

Hosted by the Ribble Rivers Trust

The Ribble Rivers Trust have worked with many Ribble Catchment farmers over the past decade. During the years we have been asked many questions, one of the most popular being how can I deliver environmental benefits whilst still having profitable business? This is what we are working on with all of our farmers. The Ribble Rivers Trust would like to invite you to site visit at one of the farms we have worked with for many years – Laund Farm, near Chipping, in the Forest of Bowland. Here we will discuss how we have worked with the farm, what environmental management we have recommended and how we have worked with the farmer to develop a sustainable farm business whilst also achieving environmental gains. We will discuss:
– Introduce the site, the aims of the farm and what the farmers aims were from the initial visit
– What was discovered from the pinpoint
– What funding was available
– What has been achieved
– What has been developed/ changed over time to both have environmental and farm business gains

You will need to book places on this walk separately. More information will be sent to all ticket-holders.

Farm walk: conservation grazing in harmony with nature

You are invited to a farm walk by Bill and Cath Grayson who run a conservation grazing business in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Our animals graze a variety of wildlife-rich habitats on land that is recognised for its nature conservation value. They are managed in ways that help maintain and enhance the biodiversity-value of these special places, where we work in close cooperation with the conservation bodies who care for these sites. At the same time as delivering these important benefits for wildlife, our livestock are also able to provide an important source of healthy food in line with agroecological principles (organic, pasture-fed, high welfare, free-range). They need more time in which to do this but we feel it is reflected in the taste and nutritional quality of the final product. Sign up for our farm walk if you would like to learn more about how agroecological farming works in harmony with nature.

You will need to book places on this walk separately. More information will be sent to all ticket-holders.

How can agroforestry contribute towards climate change mitigation?

Hosted by the Organic Research Centre

National representatives have gathered for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). We know that more is needed, but how can we achieve it? The land management and farming sectors have a vital contribution to make to meeting global targets on climate change. Farmers and food businesses can be at the forefront of developing and implementing at scale solutions which cost-effectively address sustainability challenges. However, their contribution is often under-supported.

We believe that agroforestry can contribute to the achievement of future climate change mitigation targets, but what policy environment can support it? We will explore this question with a panel representing the latest research, on-farm experience, and policy developments, followed by open discussion with attendees.

In this session we will focus on the climate change benefits of agroforestry. We will explore the carbon benefits of agroforestry systems as well as how trees on farm can help build resilience and support adaptation to extreme weather events. The practicalities of implementation and the current direction of travel for support options via the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme will also be discussed.

After presentations by the panel, there will be opportunity to share your experiences and shape the conclusions drawn from the meeting. The presentations, discussion and conclusions will feed into the development a policy brief that will be delivered after the meeting: highlighting the benefits of agroforestry for climate change mitigation alongside recommendations on how these benefits may be realised.

Speakers/hosts include:

Becky Wilson – Becky is Technical Director of the Farm Carbon Toolkit and has been working with farmers for the last 8 years helping assess their current carbon balance, understand the practical mitigation measures available and implement them. She has been leading The Soil Carbon Project; a partnership project aimed at understanding the potential for soil carbon sequestration across farms, and how soil carbon can be assessed and measured in a way which is practical and robust.

Andrew Barbour – Andrew works on a family farming and forestry business in Highland Perthshire. Running both a cattle and sheep enterprise on land that is over 1000ft altitude, the family have long been interested in the role that shelter plays in the farming part of the business. Different generations have all developed shelter woods on the farm and Andrew is interested in the management of pastoral woodlands and how they integrate with grassland management.

Will Simonson – Will is Head of Research at the Organic Research Centre. With research experience in forest ecology at the University of Cambridge he also leads ORC’s agroforestry research programme. He was previously at a Cambridge based NGO working in the field of climate change adaptation and mitigation using ecosystem-based approaches, including collaboration with The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Current and recent research at ORC is exploring the benefits of hedgerows, shelter belts and in-field trees for system resilience in the face of climate change and biodiversity loss, including through the EU-funded AGROMIX project ( ORC also leads the ELM test: Designing an Environmental Land Management system for UK agroforestry (

Urban Agriculture Consortium: progress, prognosis, COP26 feedback, policy influencing with a focus on Sheffield

Hosted by the Urban Agriculture Consortium

The Urban Agriculture Consortium (launched summer 2020) has rapidly established itself as an innovative part of the emerging regenerative agroecology ecosystem, with an initial focus on 5 northern “pathfinder” cities, as well as emerging partnerships & collaborations across the UK.   

We’ll report back on progress with a particular focus on:

  • Building and enhancing the Urban Agriculture Consortium network
  • Progress with the northern pathfinder places and the northern farmstart cluster, UAC’s typology and evaluation. 
  • Feedback and calls to action after COP26.
  • Focus on Sheffield – a dialogue with Cllr Alison Teal and Gareth Roberts on how progress has accelerated through policy interaction, and emerging proposals for a city- region urban agriculture task force.
  • PINGs – Policy Influencing Network Groups – future plans.
  • Outline of plans for 2022

We hope this will inspire further pathfinder clusters in other parts of England and Wales in 2022.

People will gain an insight into the rapidly establishing Urban Agriculture Consortium, growing momentum behind urban farmstarts and collaborations between local, regional and national partners on how to influence policy makers.

Speakers/hosts include:

Jeremy Isles – Jeremy instigated the Urban Agriculture Consortium in response to concerns over rising food insecurity and climate emergency. After extensive consultations during 2017-19, the UAC was launched in summer of 2020.  Arriving in the midst of Covid & Brexit fall-out, the UAC message of re-localisation of regenerative agroecology has struck a chord and the UAC has rapidly established a place in the evolving ecosystem of partners advocating radical & bold food system change.

This work is built on Jeremy’s long-standing work as pioneering environmental activist, “doing something useful” as a cycle campaigner at Friends of the Earth in 1983, as Director of the London Wildlife Trust (1984-90), in Bangladesh and Eritrea with VSO (1991-93),  as Regional Manager for Sustrans (1994-2000), and as CEO at the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (2000-2016).  Many of the projects and partnerships he initiated and worked on during this period have had a significant and long lasting impact including the National Cycle Network, Allotments Regeneration Initiative, Local Food Consortium, Community Land Advisory Service, and Growing Together. 

This long track record has led to his involvement in an innovative oral history of the green movement – funding yet to be confirmed.

Other interests include nurturing an allotment, singing, guitars, cycling, painting and sailing.

Maddy Longhurst – Maddy has always followed her instincts to work on initiatives and ideas that lie in the fertile margins and serve future generations. Recently this has involved the protection of land and soils, community-led thermal imaging of cold homes, Ecosystem Restoration Design, creating regenerative Tiny House Settlements, Sociocracy and Gleaning training for communities. Maddy worked on Phase 1 of the urban agriculture project in 2019 and is currently coordinating the Urban Agriculture Consortium with Jeremy Iles.

Alison Teal – Alison trained as a Clinical Psychologist in Australia and worked as a Consultant Psychologist and Family Therapist for many years. She returned to the UK in 2013 and settled in Sheffield in February 2014 in Nether Edge & Sharrow. With her daughters close to adulthood she decided it was time to get involved in politics and lobby all levels of government to take action on the Climate and Ecological Crisis. She is passionate about nature, social justice, women’s equality, and democracy.
Alison says, “The Green Party is the only party which looks at the challenges we face locally, nationally and globally in a systemic way. We consider how the decisions we make today will affect future generations.”

Alison became a founding core member of Save Nether Edge Trees campaign group in 2015 which led to several years of engaging in non-violent direct action to prevent the felling of healthy mature trees. She was arrested for trying to protect trees and also taken to the High Court by Sheffield City Council who applied for an order to send her to prison. However, the judge dismissed the case.

Duncan Williamson – Duncan is a recognised environment, sustainable consumption and food systems expert. He is the founder and director of Nourishing Food Systems and currently works with Action Against Hunger developing their strategies on climate change and the emerging food crisis. He is working with WWF, Chatham House and is on the steering group for the Fork to Farm COP26 project, overseen by Nourish Scotland. He has been working in the environment and related fields for over 20 years, with the last 13 focused on food systems and has an MSC in Sustainable Environmental Management focusing on land use. He has led teams and projects at Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) and WWF UK. He is on the advisory body for the DiverIMPACTS project, which focuses on crop diversification through crop rotation and the food systems atlas. Also, setting up a community farm in his village.

Gareth Roberts – Gareth is a founder member and co-director of Regather, and coordinator of ShefFood – Sheffield’s Food Partnership. Gareth is passionate about cooperation, and has worked collaboratively with people from all walks of life for over 20 years. Since 2015 Gareth has led strategic developments around Community Economic Development and Sustainable Food Systems in Sheffield, ensuring Regather and ShefFood lead on innovative economic and social change. His mission is a food system where money is retained in the local economy, land is more productive, food is better quality, health is improved and people have better awareness of and involvement with how the food system, from local to global, can be changed for the better.

Developing permaculture farm enterprises

Hosted by the Permaculture Association

In this session Hannah Thorogood will share the story of her successful mixed farm enterprise – the Inkpot – as a case study of how permaculture design can transform land and create a vibrant business. We invite other farmers and growers to come and share their own experiences and together we will explore questions such as how a design approach can support the process of making a farm more diverse, and how to manage, market and sell the diverse farm products and services that come from polycultural farm systems.

Permaculture offers a pathway towards farms that are regenerative, biodiverse, soil enhancing, resilient and profitable. Through this session participants will learn how they can incorporate these approaches into their own enterprises, and how to connect with other farmers and growers that are also exploring and applying permaculture principles.

Open to all. Please do come along and share your story!

Speakers/hosts include:

Hannah Thorogood – Hannah is a successful one-woman farmer who is not only mob-grazing her cattle and sheep, but also her turkeys! She has been practising regenerative techniques for 10 years and permaculture techniques for nearly 20. Hannah is a permaculture farmer, designer and teacher. She has taken the farm from an 18 acre depleted, compacted, toxic arable field into the diverse, abundant 100+ acre farm it is today demonstrating permaculture, regenerative agriculture and producing nationally award winning food.

Andy Goldring – Andy is the CEO of the Permaculture Association and has been working over the last 20+ years to support the development of projects, local and national farming initiatives, demonstration sites and case studies that show how permaculture is being applied within farms, smallholdings and micro-enterprises.

Scotland’s Changing Landscape – exploring the tensions between farming, forestry and rewilding in the uplands

With multiple pressures coming from all angles, one thing is clear: our landscapes will, and must, be managed differently. This session discussed the opportunities and the tensions between upland farming, commercial forestry and rewilding in a post-COVID, post-Brexit, climate-changing future.

Bringing you an all-Scottish panel of farmers and conservationists coming from a range of perspectives – from rewilding to agroforestry to moorland management – we held this space to host a lively debate about the tensions and possibilities that lie ahead for the upland land manager.


Alan McDonnell is Conservation Manager at Trees For Life, a rewilding charity in the Scottish Highlands.  While focused on ecological regeneration and involving volunteers in practical, mindful action to restore habitats and species, much of his work is about finding ways to use the skills, knowledge and livelihoods in today’s landscapes as the basis of a future with a sustainable balance between the needs of nature, business and people’s quality of life.

Andrew Barbour is a farmer and forester, working in Highland Perthshire.  He was the chairman of the Scottish Government’s Woodland Expansion Advisory Group which reported back in 2010, looking at the ambitions of Govt to expand forestry at that time.  More recently he was part of the Deer Working Group which has just recently reported to Scottish Government.

Finn Weddle is a self-directed student of agroforestry and an advocate of regenerative livelihoods, ecological design and agroecology. He is especially passionate about the landscape and the businesses and communities that shape it, and is bringing this session to the NRFC to highlight the work being undertaken in Scotland and cross-pollinate learnings with English counterparts. He is also a Director of Reforesting Scotland, has worked extensively with Permaculture Scotland and consults on ecological enterprise, sharing learnings through The Regenerative Livelihood Podcast.

Patrick Laurie worked as a project manager for the Heather Trust over eight years, promoting integrated moorland management for a variety of land uses across the UK uplands, including agriculture, peatland, renewables and fieldsports. He then moved to Soil Association Scotland to deliver their Farming with Nature program, before setting up as an independent moorland management consultant. Alongside this work, he now manages the Galloway Hills Network, a project to promote diverse and sustainable upland farming in southwest Scotland. He has also been running a herd of pedigree galloway cattle in a variety of conservation projects for black grouse and curlews since 2015.

You can read the session outcomes here.

Reforming land ownership, and potential for change of land use

Land reform is a huge and necessary process to undertake in the UK if we are to ever attain ecological justice and effectively work together to adapt our landscapes in pressing times; the inequity and inequality of ownership and management of land in the UK is unparalleled in Europe and is a major barrier to ecological farmers, especially new entrants.

At a policy level, it is difficult to find the political will to enact land reform but in Scotland at least there is a ball rolling which is undoubtedly building towards unprecedented and large scale changes in the way land is both managed and owned. This session presented an all-Scottish panel to discuss and disseminate the work already undertaken, explore opportunities in land reform going forwards, and to answer any questions from an English and Welsh audience looking for guidance and support in forging a more powerful narrative of land reform south of the border.

With a panel that represents many decades of expertise and lived experience, this session aimed:

  • to bring an awareness of Scotland’s vision for a strong and dynamic relationship between its land and its people, which is being actively pursued by the Scottish Land Commission of the back of decades of activism;
  • to explore the exciting barriers and dastardly opportunities inherent in reforming the way that land is governed and owned, looking at Falkland Estate as a case in hand;
  • to empower participants to use all the tools available to us – as land owners, managers and users – to pursue land reform in our local communities;
  • to better understand the needs and wants of farmers and farm workers from land reform; and
  • to make links between the parallel narratives of land reform in Scotland, England and Wales.
Speaker/host info:
Kirsty Tait is a land reform practitioner supporting change within urban and rural communities. She currently works for the Good Practice Team at the Scottish Land Commission and is responsible for practically implementing Scotland’s Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement. Prior to this, she worked for Carnegie UK Trust which included supporting the early pioneers of the Community Land Trust movement in England and Wales. Her connection to land stems from and continues through supporting her family’s secure-tenanted farm in Perth.

James MacKessack-Leitch is a Policy Officer at the Scottish Land Commission, primarily focusing on the Commission’s work to modernise land rights, governance, and ownership. He also leads on work to improve agricultural land access for new entrants and progressing farmers. Coming from a family farm in the Laich of Moray, and being a former director of a local community development trust, he has some experience of the challenges and opportunities faced on either side of the policy and practice fence!

Adele Clarke is an educator and community facilitator working to reconnect communities with the land through regenerative cultural design embracing our heritage. She’s excited to be working with Falkland Estate and Centre for Stewardship to explore the central roles that regenerative agriculture, localised food-systems and integrated landscape use can play in becoming part of the solution for a healthy planet and in support of UN sustainable development goals. She has a background in Botany (plant genetics), Geology and Landscape Archaeology amongst other things.

Ninian Stuart is an estate owner with a commitment to reviving the relationship between people and land whilst addressing inequalities. Following many years in community care, advocacy and social enterprise, he is co-founder of the Centre for Stewardship, Fife Employment Access Trust and A Thousand Huts campaign. Ninian’s main focus is now on sustainable, community-based land management whilst teasing out the tensions of holding the Hereditary Keepership of Falkland Palace whilst working towards a just transition locally, regionally and globally.
You can read the session outcomes here.

Our Common Cause: Collective and collaborative management of upland commons and beyond.

Hosted by the Hannah Field and Julia Aglionby, Foundation for Common Land.

The Our Common Cause (OCC) project completed its development phase in 2019 and now has funding for the delivery phase from the Heritage Lottery Fund and match funding from partners. The delivery is starting this year and will be complete in 2023. Focusing on upland commons, but with implications for land management more broadly, this project has 4 themes: collaboration, resilience, commons for all and commons for tomorrow. Commons differ to other forms of land management as they are based on the ancient practice of commoning, where communities of interdependent farms manage resources collectively for the benefit of all, with a view to being sustainable and resilient. The OCC project will deliver opportunities to co-create a sustainable future for common land, improving commons management and providing shared learning that can apply to other landscapes.

There are 3 commons from each of Cumbria, Yorkshire, Shropshire and Dartmoor in the OCC project so there are specific examples in a Northern England context to focus on. This session will be a set of presentations based on the OCC theme of collaboration, looking at collective management and what this means in practice including the challenges, benefits and opportunities. Working collectively is not always easy but it can provide opportunities to build supportive, resilient communities whilst delivering multiple benefits from landscapes to society, such as food, biodiversity, water quality and carbon storage. We hope that participants can learn about commoning as a form of collaborative management through the presentations and questions, and through following the progress of OCC delivery over the next 3 years. Presentations included one from Julia Aglionby, Chief Executive of the Foundation for Common Land and chair of the OCC project and from Hannah Field who is doing her PhD research alongside OCC. Hannah is researching the different narratives, perspectives and values within commons and how these can be brought together for social and ecological benefit through place-based decision-making.

Find out more about OCC:


Julia Aglionby is Executive Director of the Foundation for Common Land, Chair of the Uplands Alliance, a practicing Rural Chartered Surveyor and Agricultural Valuer and Professor in Practice at the University of Cumbria. Julia was a Board Member of Natural England from 2014 – 2019. She has worked as an environmental economist on National Park Management in Indonesia and the Philippines. Julia’s PhD research was at Newcastle University Law School and her thesis was entitled Governance of Common Land in National Parks: Plurality and Purpose. Julia lives in the Eden Valley, Cumbria with her family on an organic Care Farm of which she is a Trustee – Susan’s Farm CIO – where she enjoys practical farm work at the weekends.

Hannah Field grew up in Rochester, Kent and has spent the last 10 years in Cumbria, beginning with her studies at the University of Cumbria gaining a BSc (Hons) in Animal Conservation Science and then, in 2019, her PGDip Ecosystem Services Evaluation. Hannah is currently a PhD Student at the University, researching how diverse perspectives and values in land management can be brought together for social and ecological benefit through place-based decision-making. During this time, Hannah has worked for Forestry England in communications and visitor experience and runs her own business. She is an artist and tutor in wool crafts, designs and teaches nature-based and regenerative livelihood programmes and helps with horticulture and livestock on a permaculture smallholding. Hannah weaves together practical experience and academic knowledge to inform her research and practice. Building relationships with the land threads Hannah’s life through fell-walking, mountaineering, lake swimming and gardening, always with collie-dog Nova.

Will Rawling and Rosie Snowden.

How / Can nature-friendly urban farming and growing contribute to tackling food security & the climate emergency?

Hosted by Jeremy Iles, Urban Agriculture Consortium with urban agriculture perspectives from the North.

In the wake of Brexit, growing awareness of the climate emergency, and now Covid-19, we need to look at how we can create a better, more resilient, nature-friendly food system.

All over the UK, food partnerships in towns and cities are beginning to look at how urban farming & food growing can contribute to a meaningful re-localisation of food supply. Academic studies have shown that 15% of fruit and vegetable could be produced in towns.

There is an emerging cluster of pioneering towns and cities in the north of England who are actively taking this agenda forward: amongst them Lancaster, Leeds, Middlesbrough & Sheffield, who are involved in the new Urban Agriculture Consortium. There are of course other places engaged in complementary work form which we will seek to learn: Carlisle, Preston, Tameside, Oldham amongst others.

There are many opportunities – and barriers – to developing urban growing at scale: land, policies, finances amongst others. These opportunities and barriers were explored in an earlier phase of the project and are summarised in our reports.

The Urban Agriculture Consortium is looking to work with a range of pilot towns and cities to explore how this might best be supported in the coming years.

This work is at an early stage – this networking and discussion session helped shape the programme across the north and in other parts of the UK.


Jeremy Iles has had a long career as an environmental campaigner from 1983 – 2020, championing cycling, urban wildlife, city farms, community gardens & allotments, helping move marginalised movements into the mainstream. Since 2017, he has forged the new Urban Agriculture Consortium of national partners and stakeholders: UAC is now funded to support communities to upscale nature-friendly urban farming and growing as part of an integrated, resilient & just food system.

Anna Clayton sits on the management committee of Claver Hill Community Food Project and is a member of Spud Club (a community grown agriculture scheme) and Lancaster Seed Library. For the past ten years, Anna has worked on a variety of community food and environmental initiatives and currently coordinates FoodFutures: North Lancashire’s Sustainable Food Network. Anna also works part time as a Worker Director, Writer and Researcher at Ethical Consumer Magazine.

Gareth Roberts is a founder member of Regather in Sheffield, where he led the enterprise start up in 2005 and incorporation as a co-op in 2010. Gareth is passionate about cooperation, and has worked collaboratively with people from all walks of life for over 20 years. His various experiences as an arts administrator, event manager, lecturer and serial social entrepreneur bring useful skills and resilience to Regather and the wider Sheffield social economy. More recently, over the past 5 years, Gareth has led various strategic developments for Regather, including promoting the role of urban agriculture and productive landscapes in community economic development; establishing ShefFood, the Sustainable Food Places partnership for Sheffield; and creating Regather Farm, a 15 acre peri-urban, organic market garden and agroforestery development, all of which ensure Regather continues to occupy a position and reputation in Sheffield and the UK as an organisation leading on innovative economic and social change, and local food system transformation.