The National Organic Conference (NOC) organised by organic certification body, Organic Farmer and Growers (OF&G) will this year be hosted in the South East. Fourth generation farmer, Tim May, will be opening the gates of Kingsclere Estates in Hampshire to delegates on Tuesday 2 July 2024.

For anyone interested in adopting regenerative farming practices or considering converting to organic, NOC brings together leading experts to shine a light on organic’s transformative approach. Covering environmental impact, quality food production and financial viability, the agenda for the day covers five speaker sessions, a two-course organic lunch and afternoon farm walk.

Industry collaboration

Now in its seventeenth year, NOC continues to focus on collaboration and inclusivity, bringing together stakeholders from across the organic community. Steven Jacobs, OF&G business development manager and NOC coordinator, believes the conference timetable highlights the breadth of issues currently facing the sector.

“We’re in a period of massive upheaval in the agricultural sector. To secure long-term ecological and economic sustainability requires farmers to consider implementing transition strategies that will put their businesses in good stead for the coming years.

“Organic is a powerful force for change and therefore it’s vital our audience benefits from pragmatic and practical solutions which our panellists bring in droves.

“This year’s conference at Kingsclere will focus on securing a fairer, more balanced food and farming system. Tim brings all these elements to life by showcasing what’s been achieved by adopting a business focused and holistic mindset,” says Mr Jacobs.

A flagship of sustainable farming

Kingsclere Estate is an innovative and sustainable farming enterprise located near Basingstoke. Since becoming farm manager, Mr May has dedicated his career to implementing regenerative farming practices that promote environmental stewardship and long-term soil health.

He currently grows quinoa, linseed and gluten-free oats, heritage wheats and grain varieties organically and has a herd of 480 New Zealand Friesian Jersey crossbreed dairy cows and a mobile milking parlour. The grazing herd are followed by egg laying chickens.

A strong advocate for habitat creation, integrating natural ecosystems into the farming landscape to support biodiversity, under Mr May’s management, Kingsclere has become a model of modern sustainable farming.

Beyond the farm gate

Mr May shares how having businesses that complement each other and the bottom line benefit his operations.

“If we can run more than one enterprise on the same piece of land, it means we can get more productivity out of the same land, and hopefully this gives us a much more sustainable future.

“We not only farm holistically to support regeneration of soil and the food systems but we are working to regenerate the local community, encouraging our current commercial tenants to find ways of linking into the circular system, and for our residential tenants to find out how they can play a role in the Estate community too,” says Mr May.

Conference programme

Chaired by award winning journalist, documentary maker and organic farmer, Sarah Dickins, the first conference session will be delivered by independent farm consultant, Niels Corfield, looking at the introduction of low maintenance, yet productive agroecological systems, such as those in operation at Kingsclere.

Next up, Trinity Ag Tech provides a detailed look at environmental and carbon benchmarking using their Sandy platform and its natural capital navigator, to reveal how organic practices deliver robust carbon cycling and tangible biodiversity net gains.

The AHDB’s Henny Lowth, will share insight into the organisation’s Monitor and Strategic Farm programme, with Tim becoming a Monitor Farm host in May 2024. This will be followed by the Organic Research Centre announcing the winner of the Young Organic Farmer of the Year award for 2024.

In the fourth seminar, chair of UK Organic, Adrian Carne, discusses the current state of the UK organic market. With consumers facing increased ‘greenwashing,’ UK Organic will unify the sector to deliver market growth by simplifying and promoting the organic message.

The final session draws together a distinguished panel, representing organisations from the organic sector to share their insights and facilitate discussion around integrating organic more widely, and exploring how organic’s mutually beneficial practices can be shared across UK farming.

Following an organic, locally sourced lunch prepared and served by the team from Michelin Guide listed restaurant Five Little Pigs, conference delegates will be shown key developments at Kingsclere Estates on a guided farm walk.

“Tim has introduced some forward-thinking strategies at Kingsclere. It is a fantastic example of how organic delivers high quality food that feeds into a sustainable and successful farming system,” says Mr Jacobs.

For more information about the National Organic Conference (NOC) and to book your place, visit National Organic Conference 1-2 July 2024.

Tim May

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