Keeping it real in the farm team
The Woodland Trust farming team got straight down to business in the New Year with a wonderfully productive two days at the Oxford Real Farming Conference.
Now in its tenth year the event is growing in popularity and stature and for the second consecutive year attracted the attention of Environment Secretary Michael Gove who spoke about the need for farmers to be rewarded for providing public goods such as clean air, improved water, better soil – all things trees can provide.
Woodland Trust Director of Estate and Woodland Outreach Darren Moorcroft chaired a panel called “The Magic Money Tree” examining how farmers can incorporate agroforestry on their land and was joined by one of our ambassadors Stephen Briggs. Darren also spoke at a session called “What is land for?” alongside the Soil Association and Committee on Climate Change, giving delegates our wish list for land use; somewhere that provides food, sequesters carbon, slows the flow of water, provides clean water, protects soils, tackles air pollution, provides habitat and enriches the lives of people who use it. You can see where he was going can’t you?
Darren said: “The event is a great opportunity to see, speak to, and hear from lots of different people about the future of 70% of the UK’s land. And an opportunity for us to profile the vital role that trees could and should play in future thinking and actions. The conference has grown to over 1000 delegates but retains its energy and enthusiasm for changing the current systems. Agroforestry, and a number of our farming ambassadors, continue to play a headline role in discussions on future land use.”
Woodland Trust Senior farming adviser Helen Chesshire chaired a session led by the Nature Friendly Farming Network about how farming green can put you in the black and we invited some of our farming advocates along to speak at other sessions.
Andrew Barbour travelled from Scotland with his wife Seonagh to impart what he has been doing to establish a profitable silvopasture scheme on his remote hillside farm near Pitlochry and at an informal Q&A session afterwards was joined by upland sheep farmers Paul and Nic Renison and our force of nature, Woodland Trust Partnerships Manager Pete Leeson to talk about the work they’ve been doing to bring trees, woods and hedges on to their Cumbrian farm.
Demonstration engagement manager Kath Owen and Outreach Adviser Luke Everitt attended a number of talks and manned our stand, with everyone picking up a number of new leads and dealing with inquiries.
We were busy on social media too with a large number of farmers and policy advisers engaging with our tweets from what is rapidly becoming a firm fixture in our farming calendar.