There is no doubt that the vote to leave the EU was a historic moment, one that will potentially impact on us all. 5 months on and what more do we know about the repercussions for how land will be managed and used, land ownership, employment and financial sustainability. The changes for the fens, and therefore our communities, could be huge. A panel of professionals and activists will present different perspectives to help stimulate a public discussion about what this means for us. Below you’ll find out about what they do and a little bit about their perspective.
About the speakers:
Andrew Burgess was born and raised in vegetable farming and is the Director of Agriculture at Produce World. He went to Shuttleworth Ag College & since then done every role you can think of in Fresh Produce. Currently being a big fan of environmental Farming, including organic, he is on the NFU Horticulture Board, LEAF Board, served on Soil Association, AHDB and British Carrot Growers. With so much experience Burgess will join us on the panel to specifically focus on the economics and physical need for non UK workforces in the UK Food and Farming and the cultural and economic enrichment bought by free movement. He quotes –
‘It’s not “them” or “they” it’s real people with real dreams and aspirations, hardworking and well educated.’
We’re also fortunate to be joined by farmer and artist Kate Genever. Drawing on both her roles Kate uses a variety of techniques to create work which attempts to celebrate place, people and their intertwined connections. In the past she has collaborated with farmers, artists, craftsmen, anthropologists, education departments, collections and school children. With the ability to balance both lifestyles, Genever will be giving us details of her experiences. She explains –
‘Brexit will potentially have impact on both sectors and optimistically I feel the arts can learn from farming and farming from art - we are, after all, interested in feeding and nourishment, either the body or soul.’
Of similar breadth in experience, we’ll also be joined by Robin Grey, a Folk Singer and social historian based in East London. Robin is a founder and member of the Community Food Growers Network and created the show ‘Three Acres and a Cow’, A History of Land Rights and Protest in Folk Song and Story’ to spread his passion for the topic.
Robin Grey spends much of his time teaching people old songs as a tool for raising awareness about hugely uneven distribution of land in the UK. He also finds it prudent to connect this with other contemporary issues such as housing, health, environment and the food we eat. Although not sung, it sounds like he’ll be able to add more accounts from history to this discussion.
Last, but by no means least, is Tim Lang, a Professor of Food Policy at City University London’s Centre for Food Policy. Formally a hill farmer in Lancashire in the 1970’s, Professor Lang has required an interest in the relationship between food, health, the environment, justice and culture, asking how policy shapes it. He studies and engages with food policy debates at local, national and international levels. He was food commissioner on the Sustainable Development Commission 2006-11 and a member of the Council of Food Policy Advisors 2008-10. He is author of many books, articles and reports. His new book Sustainable Diets (Routledge) is due late 2016.
Tim: ‘2016 was an important year for British food and farming. The Brexit vote is on a par with momentous events such as the Repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 which halted tariff barriers on imported food, or World Wars 1 and 2 which exposed Britain’s dangerously low food self-sufficiency, or joining the Common Market in 1973.
The vote to leave has exposed major fault lines in policy thinking. The Government had no formal position prepared, hence the astonishing tensions within Whitehall and across the food system. But options are emerging.’
Tim will be outlining a number of options and situations that are arising, exploring World trade, ‘cheap food’, economic nationalism, politics of migration, de-regulation, rebuilding of UK food production, UK food trade gap, sustainable food systems and much more.
‘So which is it to be: further intensification? or a more sustainable healthy food system? The Referendum exposed how little planning there’d been’ As Tim states: ‘These are interesting times.’
The talk will be chaired by Carly Leonard, Chief Executive at Peterborough Environmental City Trust (PECT)