Joel is chart topper at Farming’s answer to Glastonbury

With more than 200 speakers covering topics that ranged from how to make British wool and British leather the epicentre of the fashion industry to the truly scary scenario of unstoppable climate change, it is difficult to pick out a favourite.

Groundswell has for many years been the spiritual home to regenerative farming and its many iterations but this year, it seemed to be on overdrive. A particularly thought-provoking session from Anna Bikle on ‘What our food eats’, brought a spontaneous cheer when she proclaimed that eating beef was the ultimate version of a plant-based diet. The many, many talks on how to farm regeneratively were backed up by an informative and clearly spelt out message from Mike Harrington and Andrew Lingham that chemicals are not the answer. The message, loud and clear, from all the speaker’s tents to the trial plots and field tours was clear – things might be tricky and challenging but there are very innovative people working hard to make farming both a force for good and a profitable business.

Defra’s Janet Hughes continued to listen, respond and be unfailingly courteous to everyone who had an opinion to share with her. The Duchess of Edinburgh was on hand to sprinkle some royal magic on the proceedings and WildFarmed’s Andy Cato went back to a different set of roots when he delighted the late night beer drinkers with a DJ set that raised the festival vibe to an even higher bar.

The NNCG was represented by Nick Padwick, who gave an informative talk on the benefits of making your own compost, at an event chaired by Dominci Buscall. Professor Carl Sayer led around 100 people across the fields to share his enthusiasm for the potential wildlife population that could be created by restoring a ghost pond. And in the grass tent, Dr Stephen Temple shared his engineering knowledge as he joined three other speakers to explain how he created his own no-till drill.

All the sessions will be available via the Groundswell website but NNCG members are in the lucky position of being able to listen to, and discuss with one of the standout stars of the show Joel Williams. On Friday 7th July at Jimmy Goodley’s farm in East Barsham, the Canadian soil health expert will be sharing his knowledge exclusively with NNCG group members. This is the opportunity for people to listen to some ground-breaking ideas, ask questions and connect with one of the world’s foremost experts in soil health.

To whet the appetite, this is an extract from Joel’s blog: ‘Integration and diversity will be key themes, and where we will start to explore the benefits of considering farms within their ecological surroundings by putting production areas into their wider landscape and environmental settings. We’ll discover how diversity of plant species dilutes food sources for pests and diseases, enabling us to reduce our dependence on crop protection products.’

The event runs from 9am-1pm and includes a tour of some trial plots looking at Foliar Nitrogen. Please let Sarah know if you are planning to attend as there are limited spaces. Email sarah@nncg.org.uk