Be the change you want to see

Laura

Laura Hancox is a technology project manager working in the fresh produce industry. She attended OFC2020 sponsored by The Farmers Club, where she has been an U30s member for five years and a committee member for one year.

I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to attend the OFC2020 through The Farmers’ Club. I work as a food-tech project delivery manager and I’m passionate about change and innovation, and the future of agriculture in the UK.

The annual Politics Briefing highlighted our diminishing agricultural workforce, the challenges agriculture will face as the UK strives to reach net-zero carbon emissions and the importance of coherent trade deals post-Brexit to protect our high food quality standards. Theresa Villiers hinted that the then forth-coming Agricultural Bill would look to bolster environmentalism and agriculture in equal measure.

In scholar breakout sessions we were asked to consider what the term “healthy society” really means. There was consensus in the room that health encompasses environmental, social and economic well-being. We discussed the inevitability of opportunity cost and unintended consequences and agreed that compromise and long-term planning are required to Grow a Healthy Society in the holistic sense. We also discussed how large retailers and food corporations can support farmers to deliver high-quality food whilst protecting our environment.

Extinction Rebellion used the Conference to lobby Government to promote policies that will halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025. The Conference Chair commented on the positive engagement between Rebels and Delegates during the conference and encouraged the industry to continue to engage in the climate change conversation.

My favourite session by far was Henry Dimbleby in conversation with Kamal Mouzawak on the topic of “The Power of Food in Society”. Kamal is a Restaurateur, Hotelier and all-around Foodie based in Beirut, Lebanon. Over 15 years, he has used food to unite Lebanese people from different faiths and
political backgrounds. He shared stories of people from different ethnic groups coming together at the Farmers’ Market he founded, Souk el Tayeb, to learn to cook each other’s traditional dishes and to share food.

His resounding message was, “Be the change you want to see. Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move”. Kamal reminded us that food is more than a commodity. It is a builder of community, friendship, health, and love.

In response to the huge explosion in Beirut earlier in August, the Oxford Farming Conference is supporting a fundraising campaign to rebuild Souk el Tayeb. You can support the fundraising efforts by making a donation here

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