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Transition farming conference

posted 28 Jul 2011, 07:46 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 24 Nov 2017, 10:46 by Websites Ahoy ]

Over the Hill and Down the Other Side

A brilliant day was had by all who attended the” Over the Hill and Down the Other Side” conference on Transition Farming at Shillingford Organics on July 5th 2011.

The day began with a reflection and prayer and then the day’s perspective was put in place by a short extract from the Transition DVD which led us into our first speaker the Rev Prebendary David Ursell. We looked at how farming had changed over the past fifty years, the huge decline in farmers, farms being amalgamated and the trend to much bigger dairy units all being fuelled by oil in the guise of fuel, fertilisers, plastics and medicines. This is not a sustainable way to farm as Washington is now telling us that we will be over the other side of peak oil and the demand will outgrow availability. David went on to tell us that we do not own the land, the land and all that is in it belongs to God and we are only caretakers for the generations to come.

Martyn Bragg, the owner of Shillingford Organics then gave a fascinating talk on the bee’s bugs, insect’s butterflies and birds which if worked correctly with nature keep the land in good fettle at Shillinford. Some amazing slides taken around the farm brought home how fierce some of the spiders and insects were who ate the aphids and other bugs and it was with worry that we heard of the decline in the bee population and ladybirds. Martyn then went on to speak about the rise in supermarkets, the miles our food has to travel which gobbles up yet more oil, and why, when most of the food needed to feed Exeter can be grown locally and sustainably.

A picnic lunch was enjoyed by all with Martyn producing some jolly good local bread and cheese and with amazing bowls of different salads grown on the farm.

In the afternoon we were taken on a conducted tour of the farm by foot and by trailer and although a conventional farmer whose rows of vegetables would have been pristine but grown with pesticides and fertiliser we realised that to farm organically was using nature as it was intended. Marvellous crops growing quite happily with poppies alliums and other plants and all the bugs and insects you could ever wish to meet. I felt as if I had gone back to my childhood and the fields were just beautiful to look at.

Professor Tim Gorringe concluded the day with a reflection of all we had heard and seen. He felt that the outlook was cause for pessimism, the world with climate change, its ever growing population, the misuse of the land, the taking of prime land for building, the growing of crops for fuel and the depletion in fossil fuels mainly oil would inevitably lead to the world not being sustainable and able to feed itself. Governments have to look again at how their agricultural policies can be seen to be sustainable for the long term taking everything into consideration. Professor Gorringe then left us with hope; for indeed we do have hope in a loving God who cares for his creation but we have to accept that we have to work with that creation for long term sustainability.