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Rebel Farmer Away Day

17th October 2023

What's Going on with Rebel Farmer?

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There is so much good stuff going on at the moment it is hard to keep up. Last week saw the first coming together of the Kent food summit. We saw our first successful corporate Wilder.Work away day. It also saw a meeting around the ideas of a regenerative farm here in Brook within the Kent downs AONB.

Last weekend we had the Planet Local Summit in Bristol which I watched online, and a fantastic coming together at the Abbey physic community garden in Faversham with a gathering of east Kent permaculture. This weekend attending my village harvest celebration.

With all these inspiring moments it feels like a fantastic time to be part of a possible food revolution. Working locally with the Kent food hubs under the umbrella of Produced in Kent I feel we have a fantastic opportunity to reach a broad audience of ethical consumers and provide them with access to support ecological produce and ethical artisan goods. I also see how Kent Food Hubs can have a greater impact than it has so far by working with other stakeholders in the social enterprise network here in Kent. By forming unions with and partnerships with other not-for-profit organisations such as food banks and community gardens we can look to promote and help with a transition to a more a less destructive system for the consumption of food and look at the well-being associated with consuming spray free and organic produce as well as working in environments that create such produce.

At the Kent food Summit, we saw over 100 local stakeholders coming together at the University of Kent with the common goal of creating a more resilient and lower carbon system with incorporated education and biodiversity building ambitions. In attendance were the university’s Right to Food campaign, community pantry and food banks, low carbon efficient distribution networks, community gardens and cookery schools. Beckie, Director of Kent Food Hubs CIC spelling out the incredible 4-year story of volunteer led ambitions to re-localise the distribution of ethical produce. Explaining how this now tried and tested system is rolling out across Kent emission-free with a grant funded electric van, reducing carbon, supporting producers, and building a brilliant alternative to the destructive supermarket culture. The room worked through objectives to see Kent recognised for its ambitions to create a better system for food here in Kent. We prioritised solutions, theorised actions and included the university with thoughts of study projects to help with this much needed transition.

Wilder.Work will underpin much of my work next year facilitating learning experiences with companies and groups that want to learn from and incorporate some of the ideas of regenerating and rewilding landscapes. By conveying the stories of the stakeholders within this movement and the dynamics of ecology and economy that surround it. I hope this will lead to personal and business development and private investment towards a better future.

Much of these activist type ideals were discussed at the planet local summit in Bristol also aligning very well with the ambitions we were discussing, and I was able to share some of these thoughts with my peers in a very organised way towards finding the common goals of re localization, a change to the education system and the Ecological Land Management of our beautiful Kent landscape.

I am now very versed in finding the support and funding needed to help projects get underway with this transition from speaking to and researching other local social enterprise, working with retailers, chefs, farmers and well-versed, local land consultants, sharing stories with permaculture teachers, designers and advocates of well-being as well as therapeutic and holistic health care. This funding will be essential for creating a transition especially a just an equal transition. Having also having met with Social Enterprise Kent I am now filled with confidence that the money streaming into the green economy will find us very soon and we are all in a great place to be ready to use this in the implementation of a new holistic system of the production and distribution. This model for change could be replicable across other counties and even further afield given a chance and there will be things to be learned from other such transitions in other parts of the country and Europe as we work towards these positive changes.

Nutrition is key in all of this. The nutrition that we get from real foods help us live healthy and productive lifestyles. The health of the soil equally corresponds to the health of local ecology and of humanity. The two are intrinsically interlinked and basically come down to how we produce and consume our food, protecting the invisible microbiomes that underpin all life. Seasonality and locality are just as important as this to healthy system to prevent unnecessary energy use in transport, refrigeration, and distribution of products. We are so lucky here in Kent to have such a wide range of producers and products provided by our amazing landscape and we desperately need to find this deeper connection with our landscape again.

This connection needs to be founded at the early stages of human development, most importantly in our primary schools before the distractions of technology and money get in the way of understanding the beautiful dynamics of the natural living landscape. Discussions around the foundation of the Kent school of food are looking really promising with all these ideas in mind we can look to create a curriculum that supports transition and create a new generation of regenerative practitioners, farmers, and producers.

I feel by looking forward a generation, maybe 20 years or more we can get a better idea of the strategy needed for change today, now, as soon as possible to prevent the adverse reactions of climate change, biodiversity loss and soil degradation caused by our current destructive system.

As we come to the end of harvest and preparations for winter begin on our land it is time to take the lessons of this year and solidify a calendar of ambitions and hopes for a better and more productive year to come working together with as many people and organisations as possible. I will be spending much of this winter building on proposals for working with our protected landscape here in the Kent downs AONB seeking funding and networking with stakeholders to produce this new longer-term ambition as we head towards possible UNESCO status of GEOPARK along the Kent downs connecting us back to ancestral food culture with Europe through the medium of our ancient chalk geology.

Weaving all these ideas together has become my strength but not currently recognised as a paid occupation. I will continue to work hard at this through sheer determination and hope that the support continues to find me. I hope you agree that it is a cause worth pursuing and if you have the capacity to support then please do reach out. Building my role as a ‘Weaver’ is a bottom-up approach to regeneration and fast becoming my life’s purpose and its impact could be immense. We can no longer rely on top-down approaches it seems so let’s get this movement rolling!

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Rebel Farmer

Rebel Farmer promotes and produces local seasonal food, ethically grown on a smaller scale.