Groundswell is the annual meeting point for regenerative farmers.

The ‘Glastonbury of farming’ kicks off

An annual meeting for the growing regenerative farming movement in the UK kicks off this week while new and existing festivals put soil and farming centre stage.

The world’s premier music festival is due to kick off this week in the Somerset village of Glastonbury. But over in Hertfordshire, its farming counterpart is also about to open its gates.

Groundswell, an open-air conference and farming exhibition held on Lannock Manor Farm, is making a name for itself as the annual meeting point of what is becoming a huge movement of regenerative farmers.

The uncertified term is used to describe farmers interested in restoring their land, focusing on soil health and reducing chemicals and feed. While the fact the term is open to interpretation has raised some concerns, it is also credited with bringing in conventional, traditional farmers and helping them move towards more sustainable techniques.

Taking place from 22-23 June, Groundswell is open to anyone: farmers, foodies, policy makers, campaigners and members of the public. Speakers include National Food Strategy author Henry Dimbleby, Defra minister George Eustice and journalist George Monbiot, alongside hundreds of farmers, growers and others all part of a growing movement to produce, sell and eat food that reduces harm the environment.

As well as regenerative farmers and soil experts, this year’s programme includes a line-up of bakers, chefs and food producers making the link between soil and plate.

It is followed by a smaller, northern event on a similar theme and billed as a ‘mini Groundswell. Carbon Calling was set up by four farmers in Cumbria interested in sharing information and knowledge on grass-based livestock systems and has pulled an impressive list of speakers for its debut event.

Guest speaker Greg Judy, a well-known regenerative rancher from the US, will join Radio 4’s Food Programme presenter Sheila Dillon and the head of Defra’s future farming programme, Janet Hughes, alongside many others, to share tips and experiences in regenerative farming systems.  

Elsewhere, the UK’s colourful roster of festivals also kicks off this week with Glastonbury itself.

Alongside the world-famous music lineups, the talks at Glastonbury are also featuring farmers and environmentalists to talk about the role of food in tackling the climate and nature crises, with Jyoti Fernandes,of The Landworkers’ Alliance, conservationist Chris Packham and youth activist Mya-Rose Craig all on the bill.

Later on in summer, Valley Fest, run by organic yoghurt brand Yeo Valley, is introducing a brand new ‘Regenerative Organic’ space in the festival.

The brand, along with the likes of fellow organic influencers Riverford, is aiming to bring the long-standing values of organic into the conversation regenerative farming.

Riverford head of sustainability, Zac Goodall, will be speaking at the festival, which takes place on 4-7 August near Chew Valley Lake, Bristol, on how organic farming is linked to soil health, and how to eat for the planet.

A statement for Valley Fest said: “Whether you’re a food lover and want to learn about labelling, a parent wanting to know what you can do to reduce climate change, a gardener keen to know about how best to cultivate your patch, we’re aiming to inspire you to make a difference.”

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  1. I don’t understand why Yeo Valley is still burdening the planet with so much single-use plastic. Surely there is something compostable or returnable which could be used.

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