Networking & Social Events

Outdoor learning and land-based careers

Harewood offers varied outdoor learning opportunities, such as school visits, apprenticeships, work placements and volunteering. They have developed and delivered a programme for school visits under a Countryside Stewardship agreement, which welcomed over 400 children to the Estate in the first six months. These sessions cover a range of topics such as biodiversity, renewable energy, regenerative approaches to farming, conservation and more.

During a tour of the Estate the Harewood team will share their learnings, including how to approach schools, developing relevant curriculum and the infrastructure needed for successful sessions.

The tour will be followed by lunch, featuring produce from Harewood, and then a discussion session to explore:

  • Engaging with schools and providing relevant learning at different levels

  • How can we create more opportunities for people to move into land-based jobs?

Follow the link below to join us:

10am – 3pm (lunch and refreshments provided)

The Hovels, Harewood Estate, LS17 9LF, near Leeds, Tuesday 26 March 2024.

Community ownership and land matching

Access to land for aspiring or experienced farmers can be a challenge. Land prices now outstrip the potential returns from small-scale farming so that fields which could be used for food production are often sold for housing, as an investment, for carbon off-setting or other more lucrative uses. This contributes to a widening gap between urban and rural areas, which is leaving whole communities disconnected from the land and dependent on an industrialised food system which is contributing to ill-health and climate breakdown.

But there is another way: throughout the UK many communities are finding creative ways to come together to protect our green, rural spaces for food growing and landscape recovery. Featuring case studies from successful projects, this one-day farm visit will:

  • Explore case studies of getting land into community ownership, including Moss Lane farm’s work and strategy

  • Include a tour of Moss Lane farm and the community businesses that share the land

  • Be a chance to identify further actions to support greater land access for agroecological farming in the North of England

Follow the link below to join us and explore different ways to access land for food, farming and nature, including community ownership and land matching:

10.30am – 4pm (lunch provided)

Moss Lane Farm, M30 7RL, near Eccles (Salford), Thursday 21 March 2024.

Outline programme:

10.30 am Arrival/tea/coffee

10.45am Introductions and welcome

11.30am Context: the qualifications landscape and progress/challenges towards embedding agroecology in existing models

11.30pm Tour of Haigh Hall

1.00pm Lunch

1.45pm Co-designing a L2

3.15pm Collation of feedback on current system

3.30pm Wrap up and next steps/what more is needed in the North?

4pm Close

Exploring a level 2 curriculum for agroecology

The qualification options for equipping people for land-based careers in an agroecological context are limited. As we understand more about the challenges in the current globalised, industrialised food and farming systems, the need to train our young people for a different food producing future becomes critical.

At Haigh Hall, the plans are to do just that. Combining agroecology, heritage kitchen gardening and food system politics a new two-year, accredited level 2 apprenticeship in productive horticulture is under development. There are currently no horticultural apprenticeships in Wigan, so together with the local college (Wigan and Leigh) we have the opportunity to create something beneficial for the borough and the wider region.

The walled gardens are due for restoration and we have the opportunity to design and build a syllabus as well as a garden ideally suited for training a new generation of growers.

Follow the link below to join us and co-design a curriculum that will better fit the future, and provide feedback for the barriers for change with the existing qualifications frameworks:

10.30am – 4pm (lunch and refreshments provided)

Haigh Hall, WN2 1PE, near Wigan, Monday 11 March 2024.

Outline programme:

10.30 am Arrival/tea/coffee

10.45am Introductions and welcome

11.30am Context: the qualifications landscape and progress/challenges towards embedding agroecology in existing models

11.30pm Tour of Haigh Hall

1.00pm Lunch

1.45pm Co-designing a L2

3.15pm Collation of feedback on current system

3.30pm Wrap up and next steps/what more is needed in the North?

4pm Close

Designing a ‘planetary plate’ – Monday 26 February 2024

Join us at this event to work together to explore the concept of an eat well and planetary plate for the North of England. We aim to highlight some of the foods that are traditionally grown and eaten in the North of England and celebrate a local, seasonal menu.

The event is now sold out. Follow the link below to register your interest in being part of this work and helping us to explore and preserve some of the North’s diversity of seeds and breeds:

10.30am – 2.30pm (lunch included)

The Catton Kitchen, near Thirsk, 26 February 2024.

Places are limited so please book asap.

Outline programme:

10am – arrival and get acquainted with the pigs and veg!

10.30am – introductions

11.00am – exploring the context and what’s happened already

11.20am – coffee

11.30am – developing an eat well plate for Northern England

1.00pm – lunch

2.00pm – next steps

2.30pm – cake and goodbyes

3.00pm – close

Farm walk: Claverhill Community Farm

Hosted by Claverhill and FoodFutures

Claverhill is a six acre community food project which hosts a range of projects including Spud Club (a community grown agriculture project), Lancaster Seed Library,  a natural dyes project,  tree nursery and a nature trail.

Come and join a tour of the site, including a discussion about natural flood management as you view the newly created holding ponds, water channels and lake on site!

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

Speakers/hosts include:

Anna Clayton – Anna studied Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia and, since graduating in 2010, has completed a Permaculture design course, RHS certificate in horticulture and a variety of facilitation and collaborative training. For the past ten years she has worked on a range of community projects with focuses ranging from environmental art, seed saving, heritage fruit tree grafting, wildlife gardening, up-cycling workshops, junk jamming and food growing- both in the UK and abroad. On behalf of LESS, Anna currently coordinates FoodFutures – North Lancashire’s Sustainable Food Partnership and network.

Anna also works part time as a Writer and Researcher and Worker Director at Ethical Consumer Magazine in Manchester, under which role she has co-organised the Lush Spring Prize for environmental and social regeneration.

She also sits on the management committee of Claver Hill food growing project in Lancaster, and sits on the advisory group of the Northern Real Farming Conference.

Rod Everett – Rod is an organic farmer in the Forest of Bowland producing unusual apple cider vinegar to stimulate health. An ecologist, researcher for FoodFutures, farm advisor, permaculture teacher and natural flood management consultant. He is also a founder of the Northern Real Farming Conference

Landworkers Alliance meet and greet

Hosted by the Landworkers Alliance

An informal meet and greet session. Come and meet your local reps and find out what’s happening locally.

Speakers/hosts include:

Jenny Hanley – Jenny is a keen allotmenteer and avid environmentalist, she is currently studying an Msc in Sustainable Food and Natural Resources at the Centre for Alternative Technology.

Jessie Scantlebury – Jessie is another keen allotmenteer who runs her own gardening business, designing all manner of things using permaculture practices.

Tunes and tales from Whinpot Farm

Hosted by musicians and story-tellers from Whinpot Farm.

An evening of tunes, tales and songs from Cumbria, Scandinavia, and beyond. This will be a film of a small acoustic music session in a yurt on Whinpot Farm in the Lake District, featuring members of the Wierdstring Band and BAAB. A great way to celebrate the NRFC on the last evening of the conference!


Andrew ‘Wal’ Walter has looked after some of Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s most beautiful nature reserves for over 20 years. He has also bought and restored a piece of rough grazing in the Lake District, Whinpot Farm, which is now a haven for wildlife and example of sustainable farming practice. Wal plays with a number of bands including festival favourites, the Wierdstring band and BAAB. Wal, Ruth and friends also provide a space for acoustic sessions at various events.

Ruth Dalton is a freelance farming and wildlife consultant, specialising in native breeds of livestock. She persuaded Wal a decade ago that they needed some cattle, and now their Shetland herd is one of the largest in the North of England. The cattle graze conservation sites locally, as do their small flock of native breed sheep. Meat and fleece is sold direct to customers locally. Ruth is a reluctant performer, happiest playing in a yurt session with friends.

Matt Staniek is a zoologist, filmmaker and photographer based in the Lake District National Park. He is passionate about British native wildlife, and when he isn’t crawling around in a lake to capture the perfect shot, he can be found helping out with all sorts of practical tasks at Whinpot Farm.

Informal networking and tech check!

Hosted by the NRFC team.

Conference participants are welcome to join the conference platform, begin networking and familiarise themselves with the technology we’ll be using for the conference. The team will be on-hand to answer any queries.

The advantages and challenges of working within a Farm Cluster Group: a discussion

Hosted by the Forest of Bowland AONB and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

This session was an interactive discussion around the following points:

– Best bits and challenges of group work
– Outcomes which can be achieved through group working
– Advantages of membership
– Ways forward including funding group working

There is a view that facilitated cluster groups can be a very effective way of building good relationships with farmers, providing interesting and relevant training and encouraging landscape scale action and delivery. There have been many case studies from the South of England, but much less discussion of the particular issues for groups in the uplands – in terms of how groups operate, how they can be funded and how delivery (in addition to training sessions) can be achieved.

This session explored how to integrate cluster groups into ELM and to hear from people about various funding models. Farmers attending the conference may be inspired to join or think about forming a group, after hearing about experiences and achievements in this session.


Sarah Robinson has worked within the agri-environmental sector since 1994, advising farmers on scheme applications and on the production and implementation of habitat management and restoration projects. Sarah has been part of the Forest of Bowland AONB team since 2012, implementing meadow and moorland restoration schemes as well as advising farmers and landowners on conversation more generally. Since 2018 Sarah has also been the facilitator for the Pendle Hill Farmers Network, which has 29 members and operates within the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership area in East Lancashire.

Hannah Fawcett joined the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority in 2004. Her current role is largely around delivering advice on Countryside Stewardship and she has also recently facilitated the Lunesdale Facilitation farmer group. In addition, Hannah also farms with her partner Andrew Keiley in upper Wensleydale, They were active members of the Wensleydale Facilitation Fund group, that finished in March 2020.

Tarja Wilson has worked within the agri-environmental sector since 1990, advising farmers on scheme applications and worked on the development and implementation of landscape/habitat/access management and restoration projects. Between 1990-2016 worked for Lancashire Countryside Service in North Lancashire and Forest of Bowland AONB, followed by 9 months working for a upland contractor before I joined the Farm Conservation team at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority in 2017. Facilitated the Wensleydale Natural Flood Management Group which ran for 3 years between May 2017 and March 2020; this group was made up of 34 farmer/landowner members based in Upper Wensleydale.

You can read the outcomes of the session here.