Largest UK organic on-farm event goes digital

The UK’s biggest organic on-farm conference, OF&G National Organic Combinable Crops (NOCC), is taking place virtually this year.

The virtual alternative – ‘V-NOCC’ – is hosted by the largest certifier of UK organic land, OF&G (Organic Farmers & Growers) and will include a series of interactive seminars and online farm tours led by experts in UK food and farming.

OF&G’s business development manager, Steven Jacobs explained that the online event scheduled for the original conference date, July 7, will see Farming Today’s Charlotte Smith leading a conversation with OF&G organic farmer John Pawsey.

“John will be joined by no-till specialist Clive Bailye to talk about how they farm and where their approach is working and where it maybe doesn’t perform as well as they would like,” Jacobs said.

Like all good business people, John and Clive have clearly defined strategies and they constantly observe how their farm activities impact the farm business, both from a financial and an environmental perspective.

“We want them to really get into the ups and downs of farming and to explore what lessons each might learn from the other.

“In the wider series, we’ll extend the debate around the economics and agronomics of farming. We want to look at what the threats are and what the opportunities may be following Covid-19, with Brexit and the climate crisis still very much on everyone’s minds,” added Jacobs.

The programme of webinars sees V-NOCC partners Agricology, the AHDB, NIAB and the Organic Research Centre (ORC) joining the sessions.

Sue Pritchard, chief executive of the Food, Farming, and Countryside Commission; and Vicki Hird from environment coalition Sustain, join OF&G chief executive, Roger Kerr and the director of research at the ORC, Dr. Bruce Pearce to discuss system approaches to food production with the land-sharing model.

The V-NOCC series will also feature John Pawsey in his role as chair of the NFU Organic Forum hosting a virtual organic farm walk.

“Farmers know they need to build resilience into their businesses, and now more so than ever,” noted Jacobs.

“To build circular economies and secure stable food supplies in the UK, we must face the climate crisis and take a whole food and farming system approach seriously.

One of the things to come out of this pandemic is the range and accessibility of talks and conferences being put online. V-NOCC provides an excellent opportunity to show how organic, as a legally-defined and certified whole system, offers resilience in terms of economics, agronomy and the environment.

“This will not be exclusive to our licensees or organic producers. We’re keen to welcome farmers and industry delegates from across food networks to join our online events,” concluded Jacobs.