Grow Green
Farming for a Plant-Strong Future

11th April 2019, The British Library, London

Proceedings

Conference audio recordings

Dr Helen Harwatt - Keynote and launch of Harvard report

In this keynote, Dr Harwatt of Harvard University launches the report Eating Away at Climate Change with Negative Emissions, co-authored with colleague Dr Matthew Hayek. The report envisions a UK agricultural system that is compliant with key climate commitments.

Changing policies for changing diets: panel discussion

Natalie Bennett (Green Party), Nusa Urbancic (Changing Markets), Brendan Montague (The Ecologist), Laura Wellesley (Chatham House), and Simon Billing (Eating Better Alliance) discuss the barriers to plant-strong farming and the policy solutions. Are policymakers actively placing barriers in the way of plant-strong consumption? Are people underestiming meat analogues? And is the vegan v farmer narrative a media fabrication? 

What to do with our land? Panel discussion

Maresa Bossano (LOVE Food), Nick Shrubsole (Friends of the Earth), Roger Vickers (PGRO), Alan Watson Featherstone (Founder of Trees for Life), and Dan Raven Ellison (National Geographic Explorer) debate what to do with our land in the UK. The panel starts with the short clip, the UK in 100 seconds by one of the panellists, Dan Raven Ellison. Panellists reflect on whether we are making the best use of a precious resource: our land.

Dr Marcela Villarreal - Keynote

Dr Marcela Villarreal of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations explains that the world's food system is seriously flawed, with hunger and overweight both on the rise. She analyses why the food system is broken and argues that pulses, such as peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas, are a crucial lever in improving this system. They cut food waste, are affordable, nutritious, sustainable, and ecologically sound.

Farmers transitioning to plants: the practicalities. Panel discussion

The stories of these farmers are remarkable. Renee King-Sonnen's Texan ranch has undergone huge changes, Colm O'Dowd now has a social farm with impressive environmental credentials, and Jay Wilde's story features in a BAFTA-winning short film. Sivalingham Vasanthakumar says fresh climate data was key in his decision to transition from livestock to arable farming. And Iain Tolhurst is a leader in stockfree organic farming, with a highly impressive Oxfordshire farm.

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

Five snappy presentations outline some of the concrete innovations that are helping to make food and farming more sustainable. Hear from Franek Smith, CEO of Pulses UK, Nick Saltmarsh, CEO of Hodmedod's, Nathaniel Loxley, foudner of Vitality Hemp, Mona Bani from May Project Gardens, and Helen Taylor of Ecotricity. 

Natalie Bennett - Keynote

In a wide-ranging keynote, Bennett calls for a sea-change in the way we relate to farming. We need to grow more fruit and veg, and see agricultural work as honest and valuable rather than stigmatising it. The UK has a reputation as a nation of shopkeepers. Instead, we should be a nation of gardeners.

Market moves towards a plant-based future: panel discussion

Joanna Long (Ethical Consumer Research Association), Carina Perkins (The Grocer), John Taylerson (BIC Innovation), Nina Pullman (Riverford Organic/Wiked Leeks) and Chantelle Adkins (The Vegan Society) discuss the future of the plant-based category. What underlies the growth of the category, and will the trend continue? 

Where next for plant-strong farming? Panel discussion

Dr Marcro Springmann (Oxford University), Vicki Hird (Sustain), Dr Robert Biel (UCL), John Turner (Turners of Bytham), and Dr Helen Harwatt (Harvard University) reflect on the next destination for plant-strong farming.