Grow Green
Food and Farming Systems for a Climate-Friendly Future

1–2 June 2021, Online Webinar

2019 Programme

Grow Green Conference Programme

Farming for a plant-strong future

How a plant-strong future can help meet climate change targets. It's time to shift food production to mirror consumer demands.

It is widely accepted that we need to be eating less from animals, and more from plants.  Food consumption in the UK is beginning to move in this direction - what are the implications for farmers, land managers and rural communities? How can we tend our land more effectively, to provide for our changing diets and benefit our farming communities and our natural environment?  How can we work together to manage the challenges we are facing?




10:15 Welcome words - Opening remarks (Moderator: Natasha Foote, Euractiv)
  • Floriana Cimmarusti, Secretary General of SAFE

  • Louise Davies, The Vegan Society

09.20 Keynote & launch of Harvard visioning findings
  • Dr Helen Harwatt, Harvard University

Launch of research findings, modelling alternative agriculture production in the UK. The research will show the impact that a shift to plant-strong farming has on national food sovereignty, protected forest and heathland areas, and carbon sequestration. The work will aid farmer and policy decision-making, in part by mapping the suitability of regions (10x10km scale) for transitioning.

10:00 Panel discussion: Changing policies for changing diets

What are the political barriers to plant-strong food production, in terms of knowledge, public opinion, and political opposition? How do we overcome them, and which policies are the best to pursue?

  • Natalie Bennett, former Leader of the Green Party
  • Laura Wellesley, Chatham House
  • Brendan Montague, The Ecologist
  • Nusa Urbancic, Changing Markets Foundation
  • Simon Billing, Eating Better Alliance
10:45 Panel discussion: What to do with our land?

Land is precious; with it, we can grow food, house people, protect biodiversity, and store carbon. What, then, to do with our land? Are we making the best use of the UK?

  • Daniel Raven Ellison, National Geographic Explorer and film-maker
  • Alan Watson-Featherstone, Founder of Trees for Life
  • Guy Shrubsole, Friends of the Earth
  • Maresa Bosano, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) UK
  • Roger Vickers, Processors & Growers Research Organisation


11:50 Keynote Address 2
  • Dr Marcela Villarreal, United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization

Dr Villarreal is Director of the Partnerships Division at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization. She co-ordinated the implementation of the International Year of Pulses, a United Nations initiative to underscore the benefits of pulses for the environment, health, access to food, and food security. She has led on or participated in UN missions to some 40 countries, and is responsible for the FAO’s innovative strategies on partnerships with the private sector, civil society, and academia.

12:20 Panel discussion: Farmers transitioning to plants: the practicalities

This session delves deeper into the technicalities of stock-free farming. Former livestock farmers join a plant-based growing pioneer.

  • Jay Wilde, former livestock farmer
  • Colm O’Dowd, former livestock farmer
  • Iain Tolhurst, vegan organic grower
  • Renee King-Sonnen, former Texan rancher and founder of Rancher Advocacy Programme
  • Sivalingham Vasanthakumar, Devon farmer



Innovations in farming and the economic potential of new (and old) crops for human consumption


A series of inspirational ‘lightning’ presentations, followed by a Q&A.

  • Nick Saltmarsh, Hodmedod's
  • Franek Smith, Pulses UK
  • Nathaniel Loxley, Vitality Hemp
  • Mona Bani, May Project Gardens
  • Helen Taylor, Ecotricity
14:40 Keynote address 3
  • Natalie Bennett, former Leader of the Green Party

Natalie Bennett is former Leader of the Green Party. She took the Greens into the UK General Election in 2015, securing a large increase in support. A veteran blogger and well-known champion of sustainability, Bennett is now thinking and writing more and more about sustainable agriculture. She will be discussing a new policy report she has written on sustainability and land use.



15:15 Panel discussion: Market moves towards a plant-based future

What evidence does the retail sector have that the move to plant-based will be sustained? Do Brexit and buying British support a move to plant-strong production? Where are the opportunities for plant-based pioneers?

  • Carina Perkins, The Grocer
  • Chantelle Adkins, The Vegan Society
  • Nina Pullman, Riverford Organic/Wicked Leeks
  • John Taylerson, BIC Innovation
  • Joanna Long, Ethical Consumer Research Association
16:00 Panel discussion: Where next for plant-strong farming?

A solutions-based panel drawing on inspiration and evidence from conference speakers. What does the evidence say we should do, and how do we get there together?

  • Dr Marco Springmann, University of Oxford
  • Dr Helen Harwatt, Harvard University
  • John Turner, Turners of Bytham
  • Dr Robert Biel, University College London
  • Vicki Hird, Sustain

Chair’s closing remarks

17:00 Close