Action for regenerative farming launched in Monmouthshire and Brecon Beacons!
Following an on-line meeting involving 75 people on 10 February, the following actions are being organised as part of the Our Food Monmouthshire & Brecon Beacons project.
(A full report of the meeting is below.)
- FACEBOOK GROUP
A Facebook group has been set up to host the conversation going forward. PLEASE JOIN THIS NOW! This group is for all interested stakeholders. A sub-group of actual regenerative growers will be created also.
Opportunities to access land will be shared in this group.
All notices of available land and any unanswered questions during the event on 10 February will be posted in this group in the next weeks.
- WORKING GROUPS
Volunteers are invited to join one or more of these mini-working groups. Please tell us by email or on the Facebook group if you are interested!
- Policy and planning barriers
This will include a contribution to the consultation around the Welsh Agriculture White Paper on how subsidies should be organised in the future.
- Finding land
The meeting proposed that a land-owner led initiative is needed to give other landowners more confidence. Farming Connect Venture programme could be involved.
- New entrants
Creating pathways into regenerative farming in the region: education in schools, training, apprenticeship opportunities.
Build a loan/lease/grant facility to support start-ups financially.
- REGIONAL FUTURE VISION
A stakeholder group bringing together lead players in food and farming across the region, including statutory, will be created and will meet in the next weeks. This will consider what a regenerative and/or agroecological future, with very substantial increase in growing for local demand, will look like in this region.
News will be shared on the Facebook group.
Looking for new opportunities in farming and growing?
On-line meeting, 10 February 2021
Chair: John Morris, organic beef farmer and apple grower
1.00 Open & welcome
1.15 Presentations & questions
- Conversion of a Welsh hill farm to regenerative: Matt Swarbrick, Henbant Farm, North Wales:
- Starting a new mixed farming business on 3.5 acres: Katherine & David Langton, Langtons Farm, Crickhowell:
- Starting a market garden: Alice Sidwell and Jonny Watler, Orchard Acre Market Garden, Abergavenny:
- Agreeing a short-term agricultural tenancy – risks & rewards, John Morris, landowner, Crickhowell:
- Free support for farmers in our region diversifying into horticulture, Tyfu Cymru:
What is preventing progress and what needs to be fixed?
Overview: actions recommended by participants:
- Set up a mechanism to help everyone keep in contact & continue the conversation.
- Establish a regenerative farming group in Wales.
- Develop a collaborative strategic vision between horticulture/agriculture and authorities (local/AONB/NPAs) – what does the future rural landscape look like? How can we ensure our regulatory requirements help deliver this vision?
- A discussion around changing farm subsidies.
- A discussion with farmers & landowners, led by farmer, John Morris, to encourage others to offer land for regenerative production.
- Review provision of training – especially land-based experiential training – in Wales.
- Investigate interesting young people in regenerative farming through school education programmes.
- Look at funding opportunities for start-up
Summary of key points raised
A request was made to establish a forum for farmers willing to rent land for these kinds of projects to marry up with those who are seeking land? Farming Connect’s Venture programme exists to offer such a service.
How to approach farmers?
Through role-models like John Morris and farmer-to-farmer discussions.
How to ensure tenants are competent?
Find a way to assess applicants – perhaps with help from other farmers?
Offers of land:
- Andy Powell – 1acre free in Monmouthshire with stream access
- Emily Hogan – Small farm just outside Talgarth – open to anyone wanting to set something up there. firstname.lastname@example.org
Should small, regenerative farmers get subsidies?
Would it be a mistake to look for handouts to build sustainable futures?
Small-scale horticulture is more often a lifestyle choice and being sustainable is very tough indeed. Will it be viable for new-comers without land or savings to start with? We need clear examples of how this can be profitable.
Post meeting note: please look at Our-food.org for profitable examples of small-scale horticulture and mixed farming from North America and Europe. Langtons Farm is trialling many of the techniques used overseas to see how they work in Wales.
Could the Welsh Development Bank, Powys Regeneration or BBNP offer grants or loans to encourage new enterprise?
Some local farmers supply outlets such as Farm Shops, farmers markets, butchers shops etc, or sell through on-line platforms such as Open Food Network, but it’s currently easier to sell direct to consumers – especially since Covid.
Public procurement may be an option as production increases in future, with cooperatives capable of large scale supply, but there’s not enough production yet.
ENCOURAGING MORE PEOPLE TO START IN SMALL SCALE FARMING
Concerns were raised about some horticultural training not being sufficiently commercial to help businesses succeed, so it’s too big a step for many to get set up.
Land-based learning internships to translate theory into practice, which can be critical to helping people get going, are missing in Wales. What is available tends to be very low or unpaid. How can we facilitate this?
There’s currently not enough taught about the sector to interest young people in this as an option at school. It could be included in e.g. geography, home economics or having kitchen gardens in school. Should the Government be encouraged to introduce more education about food production and farming at school to give a springboard into this industry?
RESOURCES, EVENTS & RELATED INITIATIVES CITED BY PARTICIPANTS
Black Mountains College will be running post-16 Regenerative Horticulture near Talgarth.
Henbant Farm videos.
Swansea area – several CSAs doing 100 + boxes each. 10,000 households.
Transition Monmouth will be having a Climate Futures Festival in late September. One theme will be local food.
Monmouthshire County Council is to host a series of online discussion and information sessions aimed at small community growers, market gardeners, allotment holders and traditional farms in addition to businesses interested in using local produce. Featuring key speakers, the first session will be held at 4pm on Thursday 18th February and it will open discussion on key aspects of food development in the county. The meeting will be held via the Microsoft Teams communication platform.
The Landworkers’ Alliance is looking to create a specific new entrant working group to help better coordinate success, struggles, stories etc. and build on the network and link people into wider LWA support. Contact: email@example.com
Chris Graves – new micro-greens business – firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a food “summit” on 16th March presenting Carmarthenshire’s Target Driven Model for Local Food Procurement on the Public Plate with Guests Speakers from the Copenhagen Model and the South West Food Hub Model – for more info feel free to get in touch email@example.com
Tyfu Cymru is offering free horticultural training for commercial enterprises in Wales.
Orchard Acre Market Garden in Abergavenny will be very happy to have people come and visit too, when circumstances allow.
Langtons Farm would like to set up a group for organic regenerative farms in Wales. Working with other local farms has really helped us this past year and building on that would be really beneficial.
Matt Swarbrick would like to set up a network of regenerative farms in Wales. If interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cefnogir y prosiect hwn gan Gronfa Datblygu Cynaliadwy Awdurdod Parc Cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog a’r Rhaglen Datblygu Gwledig Dyffryn Wysg.