GROUNDSWELL 2023 - WHAT TO WATCH AND WHY?
Pelican Ag's top 15 sessions for investors going to Groundswell
As ‘the Glastonbury of Regenerative Agriculture’ approaches, Christopher Ramsay & Simon Evill of Pelican Ag, the UK’s first VC focused on regenerative food & agriculture, are keen to share their top tips, and top 15 sessions, for investors attending this transformative event.
Focusing on healthy soil as an answer to climate, ecosystem & human health.
Here are their top 5 principles for the regenerative investor to live by, and their top 15 Groundswell sessions, with times and locations below (qualified by saying that every session at Groundswell plays a critical role, this is for investors wanting to learn more, so please explore beyond).
Water, how it sits and moves in the landscape, is key for climate, biodiversity and human health. Healthy soil acts as a gigantic sponge, the more of it we have, the slower (& better) water can cycle. Not discussed enough.
Nutrition, again often under-discussed, we’ve evolved eating plants, fruit, nuts and meat from natural soils, the complexity of which we’re only just beginning to understand. This is to say that almost any chemical inputs destroy soil microbes and deplete the micro/phyto nutrient profile we’ve so delicately evolved with. Novel foods are unlikely to have the complexity we require.
Certifying, measuring and validating what matters. Regen’s official, how will it be formalised for the nascent soil, biodiversity, water, carbon markets. It’s going to happen sooner than we think; how will we use and gather data to get us there.
Spend time on farm, speak with farmers. How can we restore rural communities and bring in the next generation.
Storytelling, for policy makers, farmers, corporates and consumers. We’re still in an echo chamber of regen enthusiasts & investors; breaking into the mainstream will involve clever storytelling, data and humour.
Our Top 15 Groundswell sessions for investors:
1 - WHAT EXACTLY CONSTITUTES REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE?
10 am | SESSION TENT | Helen Browing OBE
Is it time to certify regen ag? One of the first issues in discussions about how to scale up Regenerative Farming is the challenge of defining it.
2 - WHAT YOUR FOOD ATE: HOW TO HEAL THE LAND & RECLAIM OUR HEALTH
12 pm | BIG TOP | Anne Biklé
How the health of the soil ripples through to that of crops, livestock, and ultimately us. Biklé shares a vision of agriculture that can deliver harvests of ample quantity and quality. It’s time to feed the world, with nourishment and practices on which the land and our bodies can thrive.
3 - RESTORING THE SOIL FOOD WEB AT SCALE
2 - 3 pm | SEMINAR TENT | Dom Buscall, Nick Padwick, Rosie Begg
Farmers experimenting with the world’s foremost soil biologist, Dr. Elaine Ingham's Soil Food Web, discuss the key to rapid soil regeneration.
4 - WHY WON'T THE UK STATE TAKE FOOD - NOT JUST FARMING - SERIOUSLY?
4 - 5pm | BIG TOP | Prof Tim Laing
The state of UK food resilience and security. The state of food politics: power and decision-making.
5 - HOW PUBLIC PROCUREMENT CAN REVOLUTIONISE PUBLIC HEALTH & FARMING
5:30 - 6:30 pm | BIG TOP | Tommi Miers, Rob Percival, Naomi Duncan
Denmark set an ambitious public procurement goal of 30% organic in 2012, and it has seen a revolution in the food served in hospitals, schools and prisons, as well as in private companies, with a five fold increase in organic food production over ten years and with over 90% publicly procured food now organic. This panel explores what needs to be done at every step of the food chain to get local and regeneratively produced food into public procurement streams. How can England learn from the Danish model and revolutionise public procurement for the benefit of public health, cleaner water ways, biodiversity restoration and more resilient farming.
6 - SAYING NO TO A FARM-FREE FUTURE
7 - 8 pm | SPEAKERS CORNER | Chris Smaje & Sarah Langford
In the face of ongoing food, energy and environmental crises, Chris Smaje, farmer and social scientist, tackles the false promises and unconsidered consequences of novel food, techno-solutions advocated by ecomodernists like George Monbiot, arguing why farming is essential to our food future.
7 - FIRST PRINCIPLES OF REGENERATION
9 - 10 am | BIG TOP | Nicole Masters, Mike Harrington & Andrew Lingham
Aimed at those new to the agro-ecological movement or who want an overview of the principles of regenerative agriculture – why to adopt them and how to implement them.
8 - THERE IS NO PLANET B – THE IMPLICATIONS FOR FOOD & FARMING
11 am - 12 pm | SOIL TENT | Prof Mike Berners-Lee & Dr Hannah Wright
A leading thinker on carbon metrics, climate change and sustainability, Prof. Mike Berners-Lee shares his insights on the scale and urgency of the climate emergency. A big picture perspective, advocating the need for our farming and food systems to undergo systemic change.
9 - NO-DIG MARKET GARDENING
12:45 pm - 2:15 pm | GRASS TENT | Richard Perkins
Market gardening is one of the most input intensive enterprises, yet for a small farm brings the possibility for some of the highest returns per land unit. With 20 years in vegetable production, Richard shares what he’s found to be optimal to vegetable production in terms of soil.
10 - HOW DO WE BUILD GREATER CONCENSUS & SECURE POLITICAL LEADERSHIP TO SUPPORT THE GROUNDSWELL OF REGENERATIVE, NATURE POSITIVE CHANGE ACROSS THE FARMING SECTOR?
1 - 2 pm | BIG TOP | Helen Browning OBE, Rt Hon Lord Benyon, Katie-Jo Luxton, Daniel Zeichner MP & Stuart Roberts
In the margins of the Oxford farming conferences, a consensus emerged between farmers and environmental groups on the future of food, farming, and nature. The consensus is founded upon three shared principles: a healthy natural environment underpins food security, farming has a vital role in producing the food we eat and is also central in tackling the nature, climate and public health crises. But do we have political consensus as we approach the next election?
11 - REGENERATE SOIL, REGENERATE HEALTH
3 - 4 pm | SEMINAR TENT | Anne Biklé, Koen van Seijen & Zach Bush, MD
Exploring the connections between health and environment and how this translates to wellbeing, for people and communities alike. Anne and Zach will share their thoughts and experiences on the role of regenerative agriculture, farmers, and consumers in transitioning from a system that feeds degenerative disease to one that promotes health and vitality.
12 - HOW DO WE SCALE THIS? TAKING FOOD GROWN IN HEALTHY SOIL TO THE HIGH STREET
3 - 4 pm | OLD DAIRY TENT | William Kendall, Edd Lees, Tim Mead & Dr Emily Bull
This panel will explore ways to democratise consumer access to food grown in regenerative systems without watering down standards or short-changing the farmer. How do we get food grown in healthy soil to the average customer on the High Street? And how to tell them the story of why this is important?
13 - LAND DISCOVERY TOUR
4 - 4:30 pm | SAFARI TENT | Sheila Cooke, Chris Cooke & Edmund Sutcliffe
What is the health of your land? Is it in a regenerative state or is it degrading, and how do you know? The Land Discovery Tour assesses the Four Ecosystem Processes to determine the health of grassland soils. The Water Cycle tells us how well soils soak up every drop of rain. The Mineral Cycle tells us how quickly nutrients are cycling from soils through plants and animals, back to soils. Energy Flow tells us how effectively plants convert sunlight to plant biomass. Community Dynamics tells us how biodiversity creates resilience to perturbations such as unusual weather patterns, flood and drought.
14 - THE DIET OF THE FUTURE: WHAT WILL BE EATING IN 2050?
4:30 - 5:30 pm | BIG TOP | Sheila Dillon, Sue Pritchard, Chris Smaje, Mallika Basu, Cathrine Tubb
A healthy debate on what we’ll be eating 27 years from now. If we are to successfully transition to fair and equitable food production which benefits people and planet, what will end up on our plates? What role will farming and tech play in feeding us?
15 - WEALD TO WAVES: CREATING CORRIDORS FOR RECOVERY AT SCALE
4:30 - 5:30 pm | SPEAKERS CORNER | Charlie Burrell, James Baird and Libby Drew
Discuss the most ambition citizen-led nature recovery projects. Weald to Waves is a proposed 100-mile-long nature recovery corridor, crossing a myriad of roads, railways, and built-up areas to reconnect the fragmented landscape to a restored seascape. Hear how land managers are working together at an unprecedented scale to prepare for a new era of natural capital and nature recovery.
Two Special Mentions:
1 - AGRICARBONS 'CARBONFORCE' IN ACTION
11am both days | STAND PF. | Stuart Arbuckle
How to measure soil carbon at scale, to establish a soil carbon baseline.
2 - WILDFARMED PRESENTS DIRTY TALK
5:30 - 7:15 pm | EARTWORM ARMS | Andy Cato & Wildfarmed
Come mix and mingle, with the brightest, most energetic minds and get connected for some ‘Dirty Talk’, and a closing drink with new friends.