Imagining the Waveney Valley

Imagining the Waveney Valley

by Josiah Meldrum

A celebration of farming and food systems and an opportunity to imagine a flourishing future for the Waveney Valley 

Where: The Depot, Sotterley Estate, Brampton NR38 8DQ  (what3words.com/into.dialects.vegetable)

When: Friday 26th November 2021, arrive at 5:30pm for 6pm start (event ends at 9:30pm with an opportunity for drinks and conversation until 10pm)

The Wakelyns Bakery team will be using local ingredients to create a delicious two course meal and there will be a licensed bar from Beccles Brew Co (though we are supplying the food and soft drinks we can't run to a free bar!)

Unfortunately we only had a limited number of tickets for this event and they were snapped up very quickly. Please do complete the form at the bottom of this page if you'd like to join our reserve list or would like early notification of other similar events we host at the Depot.

It’d be wonderful if you're able to join us for an evening of food, thought and a little music that we’re hosting with the Sotterley Estate at The Depot in Brampton.

We’ve planned an inspiring few hours where we’ll be asking you to join us in imagining what the Waveney Valley (in the broadest geographical sense) could look like in 10 or 15 years time.

How do we respond locally to global crises like climate change and the threat to the living systems we depend on?

And how do we, in that context, create a flourishing local economy?

It perhaps goes without saying, given what we do, that farming (or more broadly, land management), food and the food system will be our focus. The soil under our feet holds many answers and we connect with it every time we eat. Food and drink will also help make the evening a celebration. 

To help focus our minds Ed Gillespie will introduce the evening in inimitable, entertaining, but always forthright and thought-provoking style. Ed’s a facilitator with the Forward Institute where he works on responsible leadership with 25 of the UK’s biggest institutions, he’s a Director of Greenpeace UK, podcasts with comedian Jon Richardson, and is an entrepreneur working with purpose-led disruptive start-up businesses – from ethical fashion to agricultural robotics. He also happens to (almost) live in the Waveney Valley.

The farmers we work with and others in the Waveney will share their experiences in creating more diverse agroecological farming systems and landscapes. We’ll show how that on-farm work can be supported by a network of regenerative businesses. Together we’ll begin to think about what more could be happening in our part of Suffolk and Norfolk, how we can build a connected landscape that supports us, the creatures we share the watershed with as well as preparing us for an uncertain future. 

The event will be held in a large well ventilated building, but we’re limiting numbers (for obvious reasons), if you’re interested in coming please do sign up sooner rather than later. Here's that sign-up link again. 

A bit more background:

A decade ago, Hodmedod emerged from a Norwich community project that asked whether the city could feed itself from the land around it. The project – and Hodmedod – was inspired and driven by the threat of climate change, resource constraints and biodiversity loss. We wondered how diets and land-use might need to change in order to create a resilient, healthy food and farming system; despite all the bad news, how might we create a flourishing future, both economically and ecologically.

The news hasn’t got any better, and with COP26 closing on Saturday 13th without the strong commitments from governments we all desperately need, it’s clear that we have to step up the work we’re all doing locally. Not least to send a strong message to those we elect, but also to create jobs and a landscape fit for an uncertain future.

Hodmedod chose to work with arable crops, bulk commodities that are generally overlooked in discussions about local food but that form a huge part of our diet - who grew the rice next to your curry, where does the flour in your daily bread come from?

As well as finding new, shorter, higher value routes to market for the wheat, barley, beans and peas that fill the fields around us, we’ve pioneered the production and sale of less usual crops such as lentils, quinoa and chickpeas. Helping to create more diverse, rewarding cropping systems that look after the soil and are part of a wider ecosystem.

Finding the right farmers to do this work with us has taken us from Cornwall to Scotland. Though we’re a small business, in total the 25 or 30 farmers we work with are probably only committing about 1000 acres to crops for us, we’ve made quite an impact. Between them the farmers’ we work with look after tens of thousands of acres and we’ve been able to support them as they begin to change the way they farm by adopting regenerative practices. Finding the customers to support those farmers also led us to look nationally, but we've always wanted to do more closer to home.

Having created a space and a story for our work and a supportive home on the Sotterley Estate we'd very much like to increase the work we're doing in Suffolk and Norfolk - with farmers and home cooks, resturants, chefs and bakers. Because regenerative farmers need the support of regenerative retailers who will tell their story, support their work and allow them to grow the area of land looked after in this way. 

This event has been made possible with support from a Europe-wide action research project called DiverIMPACTS. Hodmedod and the farmers we work with form one of 25 case studies, each explores different but related aspects of on-farm crop diversity. Our case study takes particular interest in how diversity is communicated beyond the farm gate. How value is shared across the food system and how relationships between producers, processors and consumers can support increased crop diversity. 

The project is funded under Horizon 2020, the European Union's framework programme for research and innovation.

Our case study is managed by the Organic Research Centre (ORC), without their support and encouragement we wouldn't be meeting on the 26th.




Josiah Meldrum
Josiah Meldrum

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