Ann Packard FRSA reflects on the recent F4 event, looking at the Future of Food, Farming and Forestry.
Mangalitza, Elrickle Blue, Peelham Charcuterie and Standhill tomatoes, were all “mentioned in despatches” alongside Traquair’s long-established brewery and its brilliant annual “Beyond Borders”, Charlesfield’s recently planted 1,000 vines and Hawick’s Three Stills Distillery at “F4: Future Food Farming and Forestry.
They emerged alongside the potential UK land use strategy (when Scotland already has one!), Vision for Agriculture, Scottish Land Reform, the SLC, Good Food Nation, timber extraction, animal health, abattoirs, integrated rural transport, housing, soil and water science and much else. The well-known, delicious, local and fortifying “Dalgetty Selkirk Bannock” was served with coffee on arrival in the Marchmont Music Room, where a roaring log fire awaited. LSD, for me never to be consumed, and, given currency decimalisation, no longer £sd, is my sound food mantra to share: Local, Seasonal and Direct. It’s a good way to avoid the processed, the over-processed, as many additives as practical, and as many as possible of those food miles.
On a more serious note, one of the Event Introduction slides listed well in excess of three hundred and fifty issues or subjects, either mentioned at Scotland’s recent two-day Biennial Land Use Conference in Edinburgh, or which were relevant to the cross-border event at Marchmont. The slide offered a stark A-Z list of many - but inevitably not all - the food, rural communities and land use or related challenges and policies under consideration at this singular period of constitutional change. Fellows are urged to follow closely the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission’s work, to read its Interim Report and swiftly to feed in views and evidence.
“F4” was the recent RSA cross-border sector-intensive invitee conference held at Marchmont, initiated by the Borders and MCICH Networks, with input also from Professor Lorna Dawson, an RSA Fellow at the James Hutton Institute, who is SEFARI Advisor and KE Leader on Environment.
- “Borderlands” [Cumbria, Northumberland, D&G and Borders],
- The South of Scotland Economic Partnership,
- The South of Scotland Alliance,
- Tweed Forum which works both sides of the Tweed,
- And the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission.
- To outline, define and promote certain “PolicyAsks” at UK level, given the importance attached to the needs of, and respect for, devolved nations;
- To outline, define and promote specific “Asks” to each of the Scottish Government, SOSA and SoSEP;
- To input suggestions (as solicited on the day) to “Borderlands” via the Scotland Office;
- To ensure that voices and expertise from Scotland feed directly in to, and are debated with, the RSA’s FFC Commission secretariat, noting the Scotland references in its recent interim report “Our Common Ground”;
- To further the vital, cogent and collaborative on-going dialogue between all with interest in the “Borderlands”, SOSA and SoSEP;
- To ensure that, as relevant, issues relating to devolution are both recognised and respected as new policies within the UK emerge.
Thanks are extended to the sponsors who included Buccleuch, Scottish Land & Estates, RSA Scotland, RSA North England, Marchmont Farms Limited and others in cash or kind, all listed in the delegate pack. The packed full day programme of formal presentations was leavened by a vibrant buzz of conversation, laughter and knowledge exchange and networking over a most delicious lunch. Those assembled adjourned to the Old Kitchen Gallery for this, en route realising why Hugo Burge’s presentation, with references to the 120+ rush seated chairs in the house, had been on “The Case for Differentiation”.
For early confirmation are which of the presentations, grouped as shown below, will become available in part or whole. Speaker biographies are available on request. Sessions were chaired by Gareth Baird (RSA Fellow, farmer and inter alia Board Member of each of Moredun Foundation, Crown Estate and Scotland Food and Drink), Professor Lorna Dawson CBE FRSA, member of the FFCC Science Advisory Committee and myself and included:
Professor David Miller, James Hutton Institute and SEFARI: Perspectives on Land Use Strategies and Change
Professor Lorna Dawson CBE FRSA, James Hutton Institute, BSSS and SEFARI: Our Natural Soil Assets
Dr Jane Atterton, SRUC Rural Policy Centre & University of Newcastle: Rural Communities
Steven Thomson, SEFARI and SRUC: Brexit impacts
Louisa Macdonell, Borderlands Project Leader, Scotland Office: The Concept and the Partnership
Dr George Burgess, Scottish Government: Brexit, Food and Farming: Best Friends for ever?
PROVOCATIONS: Future Challenges and Opportunities
James Hepburne Scott, Chairman Tweed Forum, President RSFS and Forest Carbon Ltd (Durham): Forestry
Professor Chris Spray MBE, Board Member, Tweed Forum: Water at the heart of the “perfect storm”
Adrian Dolby, Buccleuch: Future Agriculture for Future Generations
James Withers, Chief Executive, Scotland Food and Drink: Scotland A Land of Food and Drink
Hugo Burge, Marchmont Farms Ltd: The Case for Differentiation
Councillor Mark Rowley, SOSA and SBC: Economic development
Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chairman, SoSEP: A SoSEP Update
RSA FOOD, FARMING AND COUNTRYSIDE COMMISSION
Ms Sue Pritchard, Director: Progress Report and Next Steps
Hannah McCollum FRSA
Hannah McCollum FRSA, who pitched her project ChicP at RSA Engage: Creating a Sustainable Future in London earlier this year, tells us more about it and calls on the Fellowship to help further her cause.
More than half of the U.K.’s 408 principal local authorities have now declared a climate emergency, making it one of the fastest growing environmental movements in recent history, and the first country in the world to reach this landmark.
The UN predicts that, 'India will become the largest country in population size by around 2022, while Nigeria could surpass the United States by 2050'. In the UK, Government forecasters expect the population to increase to almost 80 million by 2051, and possibly over 90 million by 2081, as a result of rising birth rate and longer living. So15 to 25+ million people in addition to those already affected by the housing shortage will have to be accommodated somewhere. It is essential to plan on a long timescale and to look 35 to 65 years ahead.