From demos to dirty talk: Soil science and food politics will be hot topics at Groundswell 2023.

20 sessions not to miss at Groundswell 2023

Grower speed dating, mycorrhizal magic and regenerative veg: here’s our pick of headline acts, rising stars and what not to miss at the UK’s top regenerative farming festival.

Groundswell is upon us, and with it, the chance to network, learn and immerse yourself in new ideas, research and progressive projects from right across food and farming. But where to start? Don’t miss any of the talking points or top sessions with our guide and event preview, or follow us @wickedleeksmag on Twitter and Instagram for updates from the ground.

Headline acts

Wednesday, 10-11, Seminar Tent: Is it time to certify regenerative agriculture?

A stellar line-up of Rosie Boycott, Helen Browning, Judith Batchelar, Mike Purnell and Catherine Chong will discuss the pros and cons of certifying regenerative food and farming.  Coming at a pivotal point in the movement, this session will look at questions of scaling up, cost to farmers, avoiding greenwash and consumer choice.

Wednesday, 10-11, Soil Tent: Farmers in conversation

Founder of Open Farm Sunday Ian Pigott OBE hosts a conversation with three farmers who are at various stages of their regenerative journey. Described as light-hearted and open, this is a chance to hear genuine views from the ground on the challenges faced today.

Wednesday, 4-5, Big Top: Why won’t the UK state take food – not just farming – seriously?

Professor Tim Lang is always good value for money and can be expected to pull no punches when it comes to the state of UK food resilience, security and politics.

Thursday, 11-12, Soil Tent: There is no Planet B – the implications for food and farming

A leading thinker on carbon metrics, climate change and sustainability, Professor Mike Berners-Lee will share insights on the scale and urgency of the climate emergency.

Thursday, 12.30-1, Big Top: Environmental land management schemes Q&A

The chance to grill Janet Hughes, head of farming at Defra, on the latest updates to new farming payments is likely to be popular with farmers and land managers.

Thursday, 4.30-5.30, Big Top: The diet of the future

Sheila Dillon, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme, will lead a healthy debate on what we’ll be eating 27 years from now. Also features sustainable food experts Sue Pritchard and Chris Smaje.

Rising stars

Wednesday, 1.30-2/Thursday, 2.30-3 Safari Tent: Hedgerow safari

The hedge is arguably the rising star of sustainable farming in all its forms – join this practical walkabout session to see thriving hedgerows around Groundswell.

Wednesday, 4-5, Discussion Tent: Regenerative veg growing

With established regen experts Ben Taylor-Davies and revered restaurant supplier Calixta Killander on the panel, this promises to be an enlightening discussion of how veg growers might apply some regen principles and reduce the impact of some of the most soil-exploitive, but important, areas of growing.

Thursday, 9-10, Grass Tent: Connecting ecology, community and culture

Explore how regenerative farming is starting to understand its role in community resilience and what this looks like in practice on the land.

Thursday, 4.30-5.30, Grass Tent: Mycorrhizal fungi – what the soil squad found

Initial results from the first ever national survey of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in arable soils and a discussion of what’s next in this untapped area of soil science.

The legend slot

Wednesday, 1.45-3.15, Big Top: Human scale regenerative farming

With over 14 million views on his blog, Richard Perkins built up the influential Ridgedale Farm on a shoestring budget in the harsh climatic, regulatory and economic conditions of Sweden, becoming a renowned teacher, speaker and author along the way. For those further down their regenerative journey, advanced sessions with pioneers Nicole Masters and Joel Williams (Thursday 1-2.15, Wednesday 3.45-5, Soil Tent) are new for this year.

Wednesday, 7-8, Speaker’s Corner: Chris Smaje in conversation with Sarah Langford

Farmer and social scientist Chris Smaje meets barrister-turned-regen cheerleader and author Sarah Langford to launch his new book, Saying NO to a farm-free future, a galvanising repost to the promises and perspectives of George Monbiot’s vision of a farm-less fermentopia.


Where the real business takes place: The Earthworm Arms is a popular meeting place.

The next big thing

Wednesday, 12-1, Big Top: What your food ate

Keep up with one of the most exciting emerging areas of research; how nutrients find their way from soil, to crops, animals and even people and why soil health has such far-reaching effects, with science writer Anne Biklé. Can’t make this? Catch her again on Thursday, 3-4, in the Seminar Tent, in conversation with Zach Bush.

Wednesday, 2-3, Old Dairy Tent: Regenerative viticulture in the UK

Vineyards are one of the fastest-growing agricultural sectors in the UK, with over 4,000 hectares now planted. Yet vines are extremely susceptible to fungal diseases, and it is very hard to grow them profitably with minimal inputs (chemicals). Meet the growers pioneering a more regenerative approach.

Wednesday, 3.30-4, Stand DF C30: Is perennial agriculture the future?

Hear why it might well be, with examples from clover to kernza wheat and agroforestry.

Thursday, 11-12, Discussion Tent: Leather from British pastures

Design and fashion are on the up when it comes to regenerative sourcing. With model turned soil advocate Arizona Panel talking along with head of sustainability at fashion brand Mulberry, plus farmers, designers and fashion suppliers, this is a great example of conversations reaching outside the bubble.

Niche acts not to be missed

Wednesday, 11-11.30/Thursday, 10-10.30, Big Top: Rainfall simulator

See the dramatic effect of two inches of rainfall on soils under different management regimes: no-till and cultivated, with and without cover and under permanent pasture.

Drop-in, Soil Medic Tent

Join The Land Gardeners, Microbz and others for a drop-in surgery at the Soil Medic Tent for demos of how to brew, breed and use microbes on farm, for better aerobic composting, biodynamics, bokashi and more.

Wednesday, 7-8, Old Dairy Tent: Set menu – the best of George Egg

Following sell out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, George Egg brings his unique and utterly absurd comedy show to Groundswell. Part comedy show, part cooking show, what’s not to like?

Thursday, 12-12.30, Breakout tent: Market gardener-landowner speed dating

Are you a landowner who has a couple of acres that could help grow veg for your local community? Are you a person with a passion for growing and a desire to get away from the nine to five? Join this speed dating session with a difference and find new partners.

One last thing

Thursday, 5.30-7.15, Big Top/Earthworm Arms pub: Closing party

Hosted by regenerative flour brand Wildfarmed, and with music from co-founder Andy Cato, network with new friends and digest the best of the past two days.  

Have we missed one? Let us know in the comments.


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