Economics of Happiness Conference, Bristol, Oct 19-21 2018

Set to coincide with the Annual Summit of the Global Parliament of Mayors “The Economics of Happiness” will be the eighteenth international conference run by Local Futures aimed at catalyzing a new economy that works for both people and planet.

The conference is co-hosted with Happy City (UK) – an NGO focused on place-based models of change that put the wellbeing of people first. The event will bring together diverse groups and individuals who are searching for real solutions to the growing crises we face – from endless financial insecurity to epidemics of anxiety and depression, from climate change to the erosion of democracy.

There will be plenary talks, films, workshops and open space discussions, the aim being to look beyond single-issue approaches and the outdated theater of Left/Right politics to explore the power of systemic change at both the community and policy level.

Tickets cost between £79 and £149 – early bird and bursary tickets are available

Moving Beyond Business-As-Usual Economics
Place-Based Planning & Development
Liveable Cities
Healthy Food Economies
Tackling The Roots of Depression
New Indicators of Progress

Jonathan Dimbleby (UK)

BBC presenter of current affairs, political radio and TV, author and historian


Andrew Simms (UK)
new economics veteran and co-founder of the New Weather Institute

Michael Shuman (US)
Economist, attorney, author and globally recognized expert on local finance

Helena Norberg-Hodge (Sweden/Australia)
Director, Local Futures, author of Ancient Futures and producer of The Economics of Happiness

Liz Zeidler (UK/Australia)
Chief Executive of Happy City and facilitator of transformative learning

George Ferguson (UK)
Former mayor of Bristol, People & Cities, Bristol’s first International Ambassador

Colin Tudge (UK)
Journalist, defender of local food economies; founder of the College for Real Farming and Food Culture

Stephan Harding (UK)
Deep ecologist, coordinator of holistic science at Schumacher College

Mike Zeidler (UK)
Director of Development, Happy City, founder of Modoto and the Association of Sustainability Practitioners

Anja Lyngbaek (Denmark/Mexico)
Associate Programs Director at Local Futures and new economy activist

Stewart Wallis (UK)
Former director of New Economics Foundation and co-founder of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance

Andrew Kelly (UK)
Director of Bristol Cultural Development Partnership and Bristol Festival of Ideas

Shankari Raj (Sri Lanka/UK)
Rebel architect, community activist and director of the Nudge Group

Schumacher College courses this October – on soil, climate change, resilience – for small scale growers

Two courses of interest for growers – at new prices more suited to growers’ pockets!

Cultivating Healthy Soils in Your Garden and on Your Farm’ (08/10/2018-12/10/2018) and ‘Sharing Stories, Cultivating resilience: Speaking of Food in a Changing Climate’ (12/10/2018-14/10/2018)

Led by US soil scientist, author and activist Laura Lengnick

This about the cost: With small scale growers in mind, we are pleased to offer a reduced rate of £475 for a week’s residential course and at exceptionally good value a one off non residential rate of £325.
(Campsite available on the Dartington Estate £5 /night for course participants)

Oxford Real Farming Conference 2019 – open for session ideas

We’re looking forward to seeing you next January at our 10th anniversary conference.

In the meantime, please sign up for our newsletter, and see below for how to send us your ideas for sessions

The ORFC is an annual gathering which brings together practicing mud-on-the-boots farmers and growers with scientists, economists, activists, and anyone else with a keen interest in food sovereignty, agriculture and everything in between. It offers a mix of practical and on-farm advice, new techniques for best practice in agroecological farming, discussions around our global food system and the economic and trade policies that affect British farming and much more. As always, the success of the conference is down to those that attend and we want to continue to put you are the heart of everything we do.

Therefore, we are looking to you for the following:

1. Proposals for sessions

By proposing a session you are committing to taking on the bulk of its organising; we will want to know how the sessions will be chaired, who the speakers will be and how the audience will be engaged and encouraged to participate in the session.

2. Ideas for speakers / topics / themes you’d like to feature at ORFC 2019

We are looking at exploring new formats for ORFC 2019. Perhaps you don’t feel able to organise a session but would still like to let us know about someone you’ve heard speak who has inspired you, or suggest a particular topic that you would like to explore at ORFC 2019. Whatever you would like to feature at ORFC 2019, please get in touch and let us know.

3. Thoughts on how we can celebrate the 10th anniversary of the ORFC

We feel the 10th anniversary is a chance to celebrate the ORFC and everything that is good in real farming. We have some thoughts but we would welcome your ideas on how we should celebrate.

We are hugely thankful to everyone who gets back to us about the conference. However, we receive many more responses to this annual email than we are able to honour and will only be able to take a select few proposals through to the conference.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 10th August 2018 and we look forward to hearing from you. Please send your ideas by email to

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your idea with us before making a submission then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Tom Simpson – ORFC Manager

Agroforestry: what it is and why it matters

A timely publication from the Woodland Trust and Soil Association – launched at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology this week (June 12)  just before the Agriculture Bill is published next month – urges the government to “recognise the vital role of trees in the . . . Bill, and support the potential of well-planned tree planting including agroforestry to achieve healthy environments, protect soils, sequester carbon from the atmosphere and support resilient farming”.

Support amongst UK pig farmers and agricultural stakeholders for the use of food losses in animal feed

This research, featuring the results of a survey of 82 pig farmers and 81 other stakeholders  at the British Pig & Poultry Fair on the 10-11 May 2016, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire was published on April 24 2018 in PLOS/One.

Background to the Study including the reasons for the current ban

Food losses, i.e. foods which were intended for human consumption, but which ultimately are not directly eaten by people, have long been used as an animal feed–they have, for example, been fed to pigs since the very domestication of wild pigs, around 10,000 years ago. While food losses continue to be included in animal feed in many parts of the world, the use of food losses in animal feed was all but banned in the European Union (EU) in 2002, after the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak, which is thought to have been started by a farmer illegally feeding uncooked food waste to pigs in the UK.

Current EU legislation permits the inclusion of only a small subset of food losses in animal feed. For example, all food losses containing animal by-products (materials of animal origin that people do not consume e.g. tendons, processed animal proteins) are banned, except for those containing honey, eggs, pig or poultry gelatine, milk products, rendered fats, and collagen, where there is no risk of contamination with other sources of animal by-products [4]. These legal food losses are known as former foodstuffs. The legislation specifically bans catering wastes (i.e. food that has been through a home kitchen or restaurant, making up the 57% of food losses in the EU [5]) and feeds where there is the potential for intra-species recycling–i.e. pigs eating pork products, or chickens eating poultry products.

These regulations deliver a safe food system to millions of Europeans, though they are not without their trade-offs. The current legislation limits the potential for nutrient recycling and a circular economy–food losses that are not used as feed are instead disposed of in less efficient ways, lower down the food waste hierarchy. Recent studies have shown that the relegalisation of food losses in animal feed could cut feed costs for pig producers, reduce the land use of EU pork production by 22% (1.8 Mha), and reduce a host of other environmental pressures. The ban on animal by-products in feed also treats all livestock in Europe as being essentially vegetarian, though, of course, pigs and poultry are omnivorous.

In light of these trade-offs and the existence of regulated systems for incorporating food losses in feed in other countries, there have therefore been intermittent calls to relegalise the use of food losses in feed [2,8–10]. Japan and South Korea, for example, operate systems for safely recycling food losses as animal feed, based on the heat-treatment of food losses (heat-treated food losses are colloquially known as “swill”, though they are marketed as “Ecofeed” in Japan). Heat-treatment disactivates pathogens (such as foot-and-mouth) in the food, renders it safe for use as animal feed, and facilitates these countries recycling ca. 40% of their food losses as animal feed, compared with the 3–6% achieved in the EU.

Still, the debate continues to be polarised, with some arguing that the use of swill is unsafe or unnatural–the UK retailer The Co-operative, for example, banned the use of swill in 1995 —while others argue that the ban was an exaggerated response to a manageable risk. Little work has been done, however, to determine the attitudes of the people most affected by the ban on the use of food losses as feed–namely, pig farmers and workers in the agricultural sector. We therefore conducted a survey to investigate the attitudes of the farming community to the use of food losses as feed.


While food losses (foods which were intended for human consumption, but which ultimately are not directly eaten by people) have been included in animal feed for millennia, the practice is all but banned in the European Union. Amid recent calls to promote a circular economy, we conducted a survey of pig farmers (n = 82) and other agricultural stakeholders (n = 81) at a UK agricultural trade fair on their attitudes toward the use of food losses in pig feed, and the potential relegalisation of swill (the use of cooked food losses as feed). While most respondents found the use of feeds containing animal by-products or with the potential for intra-species recycling (i.e. pigs eating pork products) to be less acceptable than feeds without, we found strong support (>75%) for the relegalisation of swill among both pig farmers and other stakeholders. We fit multi-hierarchical Bayesian models to understand people’s position on the relegalisation of swill, finding that respondents who were concerned about disease control and the perception of the pork industry supported relegalisation less, while people who were concerned with farm financial performance and efficiency or who thought that swill would benefit the environment and reduce trade-deficits, were more supportive. Our results provide a baseline estimate of support amongst the large-scale pig industry for the relegalisation of swill, and suggest that proponents for its relegalisation must address concerns about disease control and the consumer acceptance of swill-fed pork.

Citation: zu Ermgassen EKHJ, Kelly M, Bladon E, Salemdeeb R, Balmford A (2018) Support amongst UK pig farmers and agricultural stakeholders for the use of food losses in animal feed. PLoS ONE 13(4): e0196288.

National Organic Combinable Crops July 3 2018

Now in its eleventh year, this one-day event near Telford, Shropshire, will offer organic and non-organic farmers the chance to learn about the latest innovations in the sector, and discover how they might take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.

Hosted by third-generation mixed farmer Mark Lea – in partnership with the Organic Research Centre (ORC), Walnes Seeds, Organic Arable, Hodmedods and Harper Adams University – visitors will have the chance to learn about the farm and its operations during an in-depth farm walk.

As well as examining extensive crop trials – including winter wheat varieties ORC Wakelyns Population, Basset, Crispin, Evolution, Montana, Siskin and Spyder – visitors will also get a glimpse of the farm’s resident flock of New Zealand Romney sheep, its 80-head herd of pedigree Hereford cattle, and its green waste business, which composts 5000 tonnes of waste every year.

Visitors will also hear from a range of experts, including NIAB’s head of farming systems research, Elizabeth Stockdale, and independent plant and soil educator Joel Williams. Mark Measures of the Institute of Organic Training and Advice will also be sharing the latest research and practical approaches to improving soil health and biology as he completes a global tour as part of his Churchill scholarship.

The Liveseed project involves each of the growers producing three of seven winter wheat varieties in different combinations to enable comparisons between them. This ‘balanced incomplete block’ puts varieties onto farms to be tested at a commercial scale, where performance is most relevant and can be done at little cost.

Delegate tickets for the event cost £35, with discounts for additional family members.

For booking forms and trade opportunities at the event please contact Steven on email : or call

OF&G on 01939 291800.

Todmorden’s Incredible Festival of Ideas June 21- 24 2018

Do join us on the Saturday (June 23) from 10.00am – 5.00pm: the Food day for the festival to be held at Todmorden Community College

The theme is “Food: the heart of a sustainable community”

A day of fun, learning, sharing and creating all about food. This event is hosted by Todmorden Community College which the local community is currently acquiring.

An extravaganza of activities including tastings, arts activities, storytelling, workshops, demos, discussions and a chance to try your hand at plate spinning and other circus skills.

Wander through our Makers Market full of local produce and goodies.

Join in our mass forage and help create a Pay-as-you-Feel dinner.

Catch up with the Landworkers Alliance’s  latest film and hear about TLC’s plans for the new community-owned College.

Colin will be speaking along with Geoff Tansey, Charlie Clutterbuck, Mary Clear, Jean-Michel Herbillon

Post Brexit Environmental Watchdog: will it have teeth?

A letter in today’s FT (May 30) from Victor Anderson Visiting Professor, Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, UK and Rupert Read Reader in Philosophy, University of East Anglia, UK fears it won’t.

Brexit would remove from the UK the means of enforcing environmental laws and standards that we have now through the European Court of Justice and the European Commission. Who will do that job in future (May 25)?

Michael Gove promised a new environment watchdog to take on that role. However, the House of Commons environment select committee reported opposition and lack of enthusiasm from government departments other than that of the environment, Defra. Mr Gove’s watchdog proposals failed to appear.

The Lords took the matter up in its scrutiny of the EU Withdrawal Bill, with a widely supported amendment to require the government to set up the watchdog Mr Gove had promised. They were only persuaded not to put their amendment to a vote when the Brexit minister in the House, Lord Callanan, said the government would after all produce its proposals very soon.

Those have now appeared, and they reflect the divisions in the government. A compromise has been reached: let’s have a new watchdog but make it a toothless one. The government proposes that the new body will not be able to initiate legal action, will have no legal obligation to operate the current environmental principles such as the precautionary one and polluter pays, and will be kept out of anything to do with climate change.

The Lords then came back to this issue, went ahead with a vote, and defeated the government. The next stage is for their amendment to be considered by the Commons. We urge MPs to stand firm to protect our environment and insist on setting up a watchdog that can actually hold the government to account, in the way that European institutions have been able to do on the UK’s scandalous failure to achieve reasonably safe air quality standards.

Public money for public goods: what is it, and is it “good” for real farming?

Sustain have produced this briefing on Public Money for Public Goods as a way of supporting farming beyond Brexit and the end of CAP

They would like to see Public Good including support for:

  • A new, universally available Land Management Support scheme with three elements: a menu of outcomes; an organic scheme; and a whole-farm scheme. Specific LMS strands would be available to boost agro-forestry, extensive pasture-based livestock, horticulture; new entrants and succession planning. There is a strong case for front loading and/or capping payments to use the support wisely;
  • Sustainable business, capital and infrastructure support with specific help for smaller farm businesses;
  • A new publicly funded programme of low-cost advice and support for a farmer-to-farmer advisory network.

They also want to see public health added as a public good:

“Recognition of public health as a public good could help pave the way for beneficial improvements to farming standards, investment of public money and publicly supported research and development.”

Comments very welcome!

Job Opening for the European Access to Land Network

The Access to Land Network brings together grassroots organisations from across Europe to share experiences and promote the significance of access to land for agroecological transition and generational renewal. Established in 2012, the network functions as an informal alliance of about 15 organisations.

Terre de Liens (TdL) – a founding member and facilitator of the network – is looking for a temporary coordinator starting work in August.

The description of the job and how to apply can be found here

Terre De Liens: job opening for the European Network on Access to Land

JOB PURPOSE: To facilitate the implementation of experience-sharing within the Access to Land network, support the emergence of new land initiatives, and develop alliances with external partners to advance access to farmland for agroecology. The post holder will achieve this through close working relationships with the core team of the Access to Land network, key partners and Terre de Liens’ team members.