supply chains

Organic farming: Building resilience

Hosted by the Soil Association Certification

Organic Farming is a well-established model of sustainable production, however a transitioning agricultural policy landscape, a changing climate and growing sustainable food and drink markets are presenting new opportunities and challenges for organic farmers. This session outlines emerging trends and explores how farm businesses are adapting to build environmental and financial resilience in a time of change.

Drawing on robust organic market trend data, and featuring speakers from Northern organic farm businesses, and agricultural policy experts, this session offers valuable insight into the performance of, and outlook for, the Northern organic farming sector and will explore how organic offers a valuable production model for building future farm resilience.

The session will include:
– An organic market update: Beth Kelsey – Business Development Manager (Farming), Soil Association Certification
– A chaired panel discussion with James Robinson (Organic dairy farmer, Strickley Farm) & Bob Paton (Organic Market Gardener; Hexhamshire Organics) providing first-hand practical insight into environmental & financial resilience on farm. Chair: Mark Palmer – Northern-based Inspector & Agricultural lead, Soil Association Certification
– Policy/payments update – public good delivery, agricultural transition. Adrian Steele – Organic Sector Development Advisor, Soil Association

Speakers/hosts include:

 Adrian Steele – Adrian is Organic Sector Development Advisor (Soil Association) and has been involved with the organic sector for many years as a farmer, and has been instrumental in creating and developing marketing initiatives in the livestock, seeds and cereals sectors, in addition to supporting organic representation within the agricultural policy transition.

Mark Palmer – Mark is Northern based inspector & Agricultural lead (Soil Association Certification) and has built his lifelong career in the sustainable food and farming sector, with experience managing multiple farms and being an organic farm consultant. With strong expertise in organic farming, Mark is now a senior inspector for Soil Association Certification, supporting organic businesses across the supply chain from farm to fork.

James Robinson – James is an organic dairy farmer at Strickley Farm, Cumbria. He is a 5th generation farmer, managing an organic dairy farm nestled between the lake district and the Yorkshire dales – home to a milking herd of 120 pedigree shorthorns. James is involved with the Nature Friendly Farming Network and believes that nature plays a key role in the decision-making on farm and ensures that everything possible is done to enhance the biodiversity of all habitats.

Bob Paton – Bob is an organic market gardener; Hexhamshire Organics, Northumberland. Bob and his wife Ann run a well-established 6 acre organic market garden, delivering fresh local organic produce to their surrounding community. They produce organic fruit, vegetables, rare breed pork and juice from their orchard. Hexhamshire believe in having a strong relationship with their customers, and update a detailed blog post of the farm’s activity, every single week.

Beth Kelsey – Beth is Business Development Manager (Farming); Soil Association Certification. Beth grew up on her family farm in Devon and has been immersed in the business since a young age. She has worked within organic certification for 6 years, supporting farmers through their certification, and her role focuses on showcasing the benefits of organic farming, strengthening supply chains and encouraging knowledge sharing.

Sophie Kirk – Sophie is Senior Business Development Manager (Agri-food & farming); Soil Association Certification. She has been working in certification for three years now, responsible for the account management and supply-chain development of our agri-food clients, and supporting the growth of the organic farming sector. Prior to this, she spent six years working in local food policy, focusing on the development of short supply chains within Bath & North East Somerset council.

Replacing imported soya – a supply chain or a farmer issue?

Hosted by the Soil Association

Sold as either a ruminant food with an oil by-product, or a by-product of the production of human consumption oil, soya has become a main stay of livestock production in Europe but is also a driver of large scale deforestation in south America. Efforts to reduce its use often fail, often for some very ‘reasonable’ reasons – widespread availability, relative cheapness and seeming lack of interest in alternatives. But is this all the fault of the supply chain or are we as farmers partly to blame? With a climate suited to grass growth, a need for break crops and a need for UK farmers to reduce GHG emissions and move away from N fertilisers, is now the time to produce our own protein?

This session explores the issue from all sides, with a panel comprising a supermarket representative, a livestock feed producer and a farmer.

Speakers/hosts include:

Jerry Alford,  Soil Association Arable and Soils Advisor – Jerry is interested in a systems approach to farming, looking at farms as a whole system rather than a mix of enterprises or a series of crops in rotation. He is also looking at options to reduce cultivations within organic rotations and the adoption of more agroecological and organic type systems in non-organic farms. Jerry coordinated research for the OKNET ECOFEED project, which looked at regional production of proteins for monogastrics.

Sam Lee-Gamgee – Sam is Group Ethics and Sustainability Manager, raw food sourcing (food) at John Lewis Partnership

Rob Daykin – Rob is Managing partner at Daykin partnership Ltd

Mike Mallett – Mike is Farm Manager of Maple Farm Kelsale, a 137ha family owned mixed organic farm situated on the Suffolk Coast, where Mike has been manager for the past 6 years. It is mostly arable but is also home to the Maple Farm Kelsale Organic Eggs, which is integrated into the arable rotation. The primary role of the arable cropping is to supply food for the hens whose eggs are sold all over East Anglia and London.

Food systems change through public procurement: Scottish experiences

Hosted by the Soil Association

There is an urgent need to transform our food systems, and public procurement can be a crucial tool.

Every year, the public sector in Scotland spends almost £150 million on food and drink. Channelling public money back into local communities via local farmers and food producers can provide a multitude of benefits, not to mention improve the quality of the food on school children’s plates.

Food for Life Scotland is working hard to drive this change in Scottish schools by connecting farmers, producers, wholesalers and local authorities to provide healthy, local, ethical food to children across the country.

Join Lucie Wardle (Supply Chain Officer at Food for Life Scotland) along with Bryce Cunningham from Mossgiel dairy farm in Ayrshire (where his organic, pasture-fed cows produce milk which he pasteurises on-site and supplies to schools in reusable bottles) to learn more about their experiences in making it happen; and hear about the opportunities and challenges public procurement brings to food systems change on the ground.

Moderated by Ana Allamand, the speakers will share their stories (Mossgiel farm currently supplies organic milk to East Ayrshire schools via a plastic free supply chain), highlighting practical ways to make it happen; and helping to identify future opportunities on the horizon.

Speakers/hosts include:

Ana Allamand

Lucie Wardle – Lucy, Supply Chain Officer at Food for Life Scotland works with local authorities, suppliers, and producers in Scotland to get more local food into school meals. Championing Scottish suppliers means that public money can be used for public good, supporting local businesses and ensuring that top quality Scottish food is enjoyed in Scottish school meals.

Bryce Cunningham – Bryce of Mossgiel Organic Dairy, is a third-generation dairy farmer. Bryce’s passion for the environment and high-quality dairy products has seen him pivot the business, converting to organic, and working with a plastic free supply chain, supplying directly to local businesses and most recently, East Ayrshire council for their school meals.

Mapping local supply chain infrastructure

Hosted by Sustain

Sustain are mapping local food supply chain infrastructure across Lancashire. They are looking into existing farm types, crop types and infrastructure such as (abattoirs, mills, storage, packing, processing, distribution units) to understand how the structure of a business operates, what infrastructure exists across specific businesses and if there are any major infrastructure gaps that may warrant potential areas for investment.

This research will eventually feed into investment opportunities, a methodology and hopefully an interactive online map and resources for many to use. We are keen to speak with any food and farming businesses that feel they have knowledge, experience and expertise to contribute to this discussion – this is an opportunity to be included in a timely, exciting piece of research to strengthen local food supply chains that can be expanded across Northern England and Scotland.

Speakers/hosts include:

Amber Johnson-Lawes – Amber is a Consultant Researcher for Sustain and works for the Biodynamic Land Trust as a Communication Development Officer.

James Woodward – James works for Sustain as a Sustainable Farming Officer with a focus on agroecology, farming, local food, and supply chains.

Citizen Grain: Engaging communities in a better flour and bread system

Hosted by Scotland the Bread

Scotland The Bread is a collaborative project to grow better grain and bake better bread with the common purposes of nourishment, sustainability and food sovereignty. As well as researching more nutrient dense varieties of grain, growing them organically and milling on farm into fine wholemeal flour, we lead a number of projects aiming to engage Scottish communities in a flour and bread system that is healthy, equitable, locally controlled and sustainable.

In this session we will share the practical approaches we are taking to ensure access to better flour, better bread and an understanding of the grain system for all. We will hear the voices of communities involved in our Soil to Slice and Flour to the People projects and a description of our inclusive ‘People’s Plant Breeding’ approach to seed selection. There will also be the opportunity to learn about research being undertaken into a progressive ‘people nourished per hectare’ standard which – although currently focusing on our grain production – could transform how we value all food we produce.

Scotland The Bread wants to work collaboratively with others involved in creating a better grain system. While demonstrating our approach to this task, we hope that this session will provide the opportunity to connect with others in North England and Scotland interested in joining us to inspire change.

Speakers/hosts include:

Tara Wight – PhD student in crop science, University of Edinburgh
In 2020 Tara carried out a professional internship placement with Nourish Scotland and Scotland The Bread exploring the potential for collaborative and participatory seed selection to improve crop development and community engagement in local grain systems.
Daisy Martinez – Food Systems Research Assistant, University of Edinburgh 
Daisy is part of a team – also including Dr Lindsay Jaacks and Dr Alfy Gathorne-Hardy – from the University of Edinburgh working on a research collaboration with Scotland the Bread that aims to understand how Scottish grain growing, flour milling, and bread baking can provide good quality jobs for the people of Scotland and looking to develop a ‘people, jobs and species nourished per hectare’ model that has the potential to improve how we measure food environments.
Sam Parsons – Estate Manager, Balcaskie Estate
Sam manages the thirteen farms that form Balcaskie Estate in the East Neuk of Fife. In 2015, the estate decided to switch from a conventional to a more regenerative, organic farming system, with the aims of measuring quality over quantity and moving away from producing for commodity markets. Since 2018, the estate has been growing Scotland The Bread’s diverse grains, and now lends its name to the Balcaskie Landrace wheat milled on-farm and sold to professional and home bakers.
Philip Revell – Projects Coordinator, Sustaining Dunbar
A founder member of Sustaining Dunbar with vast experience in environmental and community projects, since 2019 Philip has been leading a team of ‘patchwork farmers’ growing grains in small garden plots across the district as part of Scotland The Bread’s Soil to Slice project. Through this project, the community hope to develop a locally adapted landrace which can be used to re-establish a local supply chain linking growers, millers and bakers in the area.
Lyndsay Cochrane – Project Coordinator, Scotland The Bread
(Facilitator) Lyndsay Cochrane coordinates Scotland The Bread’s community outreach projects, working to engage local people in the movement to create a better flour and bread system.

Giving farmers and growers a fairer share of the price of produce by building short food supply chains

Hosted by the Open Food Network

You will hear from a some of the farmers, growers and food hub managers who are using the Open Food Network to make direct selling links between the people producing the food and the eaters and buyers.

We will then open the discussion for participants to explore how they can join this growing network and in the process not only make their production enterprises more viable but also help to build fairer, more resilient and more environmentally sound food systems.

Speakers/hosts include:

Nick Weir – Nick is a part time grower on a CSA project. He is a founder of Stroudco Food Hub. He now works closely with farmers and growers to support them to make best use of the Open Food Network to build effective local food systems that are financially, environmentally and socially effective.

Nick believes that if we are going to build better food systems then we need to build those systems with tools which are fundamentally different from the tools used to build the current, broken, mainstream food system. This means that we need open source tools like the Open Food Network which are in common ownership and are controlled by the community of farmers, growers and community food enterprises.

Abi Morden – Abi is a founder member of Propagate and a seasoned food activist. She has been working across community and local food projects for over 20 years, and is passionate about food sovereignty and resilience. An experienced grower, facilitator, practitioner and researcher – Abi’s inclusive and collaborative attitude encourages everyone to be involved in thinking about and creating sustainable food systems. Abi is co-founder of Glasgow Food Policy Partnership, and the Dumfries and Galloway Sustainable Food Partnership (after moving to D&G last year) and holds an MSc in Food Security.

Rachel Gambro – Rachel is based in Aberdeenshire and is one of the 25 Food Tourism Ambassadors, recently appointed by Scotland Food and Drink, tasked to inspire food tourism growth in the area. In addition, she is leading the Rural Food Tourism Places project in Shetland, commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which focuses on collaboration and diversification opportunities within the crofting industry.

Rachel also runs a local community group called the Mixing Bowl Aberdeen whose objective, prior to the pandemic, was to bring people together to share their passion for good food. This was done through talks, tastings, demonstrations and very popular cooking workshops where local residents were encouraged to share favourite recipes

In addition to the regular monthly events, the Mixing Bowl organised and ran the annual Deeside Local Food Festival which attracted over 3500 visitors, showcased over 70 Aberdeen City and Shire food and drink businesses and facilitated over £55K of local produce and street food sales.

During lockdown, as a Covid resilient solution to the festival, the Deeside Food Hub was born and continues to offer a fortnightly local produce market featuring over 150 products from more than 20 producers using the Open Food Network platform.

The role of local wool and textile production in regenerative farming

Hosted by Rebecca Whittle

This event will bring you a panel of inspirational women; all of whom work with British wool or other fibres. Kate Makin (owner & founder of Northern Yarn), Maria Benjamin (Dodgson Wood farm), Zoe Fletcher (the Woolist), Andrea Meanwell (Low Borrowbridge Farm, author & Guardian columnist) and Rachel Atkinson (Daughter of a Shepherd) will join us to discuss how the wool industry has changed and how localised textile production can form an important part of regenerative farming landscapes, particularly in upland regions.

Speakers/hosts include:

Rebecca Whittle – Rebecca is a passionate advocate of local and sustainable food, farming and textiles. She is senior lecturer at Lancaster Environment Centre, community food skills chair for North Lancashire FoodFutures and a member of the Lancaster Textile Care Collective

Kate Makin – Kate is the owner and founder of Northern Yarn, an independent yarn shop in Lancaster which sources a wide variety of local and sustainable yarns including her own range which has been developed in collaboration with local farmers.

Maria Benjamin – Maria is the co-founder of Dodgson Wood, a farm diversification business based at Nibthwaite Grange Farm near Ulverston. Maria gives talks about building a business from scratch, particularly to the agricultural sector. She recently co-founded The Flock, which aims to provide British yarn from regenerative farms to fashion brands.

Zoe Fletcher: Passionate about British fleece and wool, Zoe’s work revolves around building honest, sustainable relationships with designers and producers, bridging the gap between raw materials, production and the end consumer. Pushing the boundaries using British wool and new technologies, exploring breed specific characteristics and celebrating their variety and versatility. Founder of the Woolist and co-founder of The Flock.

Cinderwood Market Garden: A review of year one

Hosted by Cinderwood Market Garden

Cinderwood is a one acre market garden in Cheshire built upon a relationship between a grower and a chef who believe in farming food for flavour. Produce is grown all year round in polytunnels and in the field using regenerative farming methods and supplies over fifteen restaurants, bakeries and delis in the Manchester area with produce harvested less than 24hrs before delivery. The panel session will re-live the successes and challenges faced within the first year of operation and sharing our learning with those who attend.


Speakers/hosts include:

Michael Fitzsimmons – Michael is a Liverpool-born market gardener who trained at The Organic Farm Shop in the Cotswolds. Since completing his growing apprenticeship in 2017 he has interned at Relæ’s Farm of Ideas in Copenhagen and worked as the Assistant Grower at two-Michelin starred restaurant Moor Hall in Lancashire. He is passionate about growing with care for the land and closing the gap between farm and table. Michael started Cinderwood Market Garden in October 2020.

Joseph Otway – Joseph is a chef based in Manchester who operates Higher Ground, Flawd Wine and Cinderwood Market Garden. He has previously cooked at agriculturally focused restaurants Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Relæ and Where The Light Gets In in Stockport.

Daniel Craig Martin – Daniel is the co-owner of Higher Ground and Flawd Wine in Manchester and Cinderwood Market Garden in Cheshire. He has previously worked at Noma in Copenhagen and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York.

Richard Cossins – Richard is the co-owner of Higher Ground and Flawd Wine in Manchester and Cinderwood Market Garden in Cheshire. He has previously worked at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York and for Simon Rogan in the UK.

Setting up a CSA

Hosted by the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Network UK

The session will include a brief intro into why set up a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the context of the climate crisis and the urgent need for sustainable food systems, and then move on to a speed dating style workshop where participants can move between themes where they can learn about the different aspects of setting up a CSA and leave inspired to set one up. Themes will cover issues like finances, membership, cropping plans. communications etc.

Speakers/hosts include:

Rhian Williams – Rhian completed a traineeship at Cae Tan CSA in 2019 and has just finished her first season as one of the growers at Kirkstall Valley Farm, a community-run farm and CSA right in the middle of Leeds. She organises with the LWA and is excited to be part of a movement working towards socially and environmentally just food systems.

Rebecca Stevenson – Becca is Head grower at Five Acre Community Farm, a seven-acre organic vegetable CSA founded in 2012 and supplying over 100 households.

Connie Hunter and Tom Booth – East Neuk Market Garden is a 2 acre, small-scale, agroecological farm and CSA located on the Firth of Forth in Fife, Scotland. Along with our 60 member CSA we also attend farmers markets and sell our produce to local restaurants and cafes.

Janine McMahon – Janine set up and runs an Organic CSA Farm on the outskirts of Manchester, Moss Lane Farm. They are a Sustainable Food Hub, passionate about educating people about where their food comes from and making it accessible. They produce good, healthy food directly from the farm which is affordable for all.

Christine Morrison – Christine is part of GO Local Food, based in Northumberland and operational for nearly 10 years (no small achievement!) It has been an interesting journey finding out how best to connect to disparate communities, create ownership and maintain involvement.

Mick Marston – Mick has previously worked for the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens and for the Soil Association in Northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. He is a founder member of Gibside Community Farm CSA

Suzy Russell – Suzy is coordinator of the CSA Network UK. She has a background in community development, arts and environment and is passionate about local food.

How food hubs can help create a more sustainable food system

Hosted by Cambridge sustainable food hub

Our food system needs to be reimagined in a way that centres both ecological and social justice, but in order to build an agroecological food system, farming must be accompanied by distribution infrastructure that is appropriate in both scale and values.

Sustainable food hubs are well placed to provide such infrastructure. As gatekeepers of values and standards, they select what produce to supply and as they are embedded in their communities, they can respond to local need. Going beyond simply providing short supply chain infrastructure, these hubs can help overcome barriers to establishing more, smaller, agroecological farms, and can integrate projects aimed at overcoming food insecurity and health inequalities. However, it is not easy to juggle the needs of the farmer, the eater, and the countless other people who are impacted by our food system.

This session looks at sustainable food hubs and the fundamental role they could play in transitioning to a just, agroecological food system. It will begin with a presentation by Bella Driessen of the Food Research Collaboration about research in the field of food hubs, followed by three presentations from organisations that are directly involved in localised food supply-chains.

Attendees of the session can expect to hear all that’s new in the world of food hubs, and to be presented with a vision of how a shift to more localised food distribution systems will lead to reduced environmental impact of food, a more vibrant local food economy, and improved health and well-being for all.

Speakers/hosts include:

Duncan Catchpole – Duncan is the founder and owner of the Cambridge Organic Food Company and Cambridge Food Hub. He is also a founding committee member of Cambridge Sustainable Food (the organisation responsible for Cambridge’s inclusion in Sustainable Food Places) and author of the book ‘Local Food Ecosystems; How Food Hubs Can Help Create a More Sustainable Food System’. Duncan’s particular areas of interest and expertise are short food supply chains and ways in which circular economy principles can be put into practice in the food system.

Gabriella Driessen – While training as an agroecological market gardener, Bella witnessed the amazing work and incredible hurdles faced by farmers in the UK. In equal parts inspired and frustrated by the state of food and farming, she went back to academia to look more deeply into the food system’s structural issues. In 2019 she undertook an MSc in Environmental Change and Management at the University of Oxford, where she wrote her thesis on the neoliberalisation of the UK’s agricultural policy. Since then, she has worked with civil society, carrying out research into local food supply chains and land access for food production. As Research Assistant for the Food Research Collaboration, she focuses on the role of food hubs in sustainable food systems.

Natasha Soares – Natasha Soares is Project Leader for Better Food Traders, a network and accreditation scheme for ethical food businesses supporting sustainable UK horticulture. She co-founded London-based sustainable food initiative, Growing Communities and is a board member of Local Greens veg scheme. She also co-owns and co-manages Pear Necessities, an organic top-fruit orchard in Kent.

Gareth Roberts – Gareth Roberts is a founder member and co-director of Regather, and coordinator of ShefFood – Sheffield’s Food Parternship. 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.