South of England Farming Conference 2021

The Role of Agriculture in a Healing Society

On Wednesday 17th November 2021, the South of England Agricultural Society will host it’s annual Farming Conference, chaired by BBC presenter Charlotte Smith. This year’s Conference, titled ‘The Role of Agriculture in a Healing Society’ will be a hybrid event, taking place in-person at the South of England Showground and online.

This year guest speakers at the conference include Barbara Bray MBE, Director of Alo Solutions Ltd., Sir Charles Ray Burrell, Owner of Knepp Estate and Dan Burdett, the manager of two organic dairy farms, and Robin Hobson, Chairman of Laurence Gould Partnership. All speakers will deliver a short presentation setting out their thoughts as to the future, leaving plenty of time for debate and questions.


CHAIR Charlotte Smith

Charlotte is a radio and TV presenter, working on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today and BBC1’s Countryfile. She grew up in Leicestershire and worked in local radio as a sports presenter before moving into rural programmes.

Barbara Bray MBE FIFST MSC

Barbara is a TEDx speaker and director of her own consultancy business Alo Solutions Ltd driving and delivering food safety in food supply chains and developing sustainable nutrition strategies for food businesses. She is co-founder of the multi-disciplinary platform Healthy and Sustainable Food. It brings together people from backgrounds in finance, pharma, health, agriculture, food industry and academia to share best practice in getting healthy and sustainable food to the whole population.

Her latest venture is SCOUT for solutions – a collaborative problem solving workshop designed to help SMEs in the agri-food sector find new approaches to tackling their food and nutrition challenges.

Sir Charles Ray Burrell

Sir Charles Raymond Burrell, inherited Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex from his grandparents in 1983. Despite intensifying the Estate’s arable and dairy business for seventeen years, farming on the heavy Sussex clay remained unprofitable. His damascene conversion to rewilding began after meeting the visionary Dutch ecologist Frans Vera.

All 3,200 acres of the Knepp Estate are now devoted to a process-led rewilding project involving free-roaming herds of cattle, horses, pigs and deer as drivers of habitat creation. Since 2001, when it began, numerous Red Data species have colonised Knepp and populations of common species are rocketing. The grazing animals provide 35 tons of organic, pasture-fed meat per annum – a lucrative, low-carbon source of income for the Estate. The success of this open-ended, low-cost, landscape-scale restoration project, where natural processes are allowed to perform, is now influencing thinking across the conservation world.

Dan Burdett

Dan runs two organic dairy farms on a contract farming agreement, one with his family in Haywards Heath and the other with the Commonwork Organic Trust in Chiddingstone, Kent. Both of these are autumn calving, with the milk being sold through their cooperative Arla.  He is passionate about improving the health and diversity of our farms and recently completed his Nuffield Scholarship looking at how to make Regenerative Agriculture happen for UK farmers.

Robin Hobson

Robin is Chairman of Laurence Gould Partnership the national firm of Agricultural Consultants. He has been providing farm management and advisory services throughout the South East of England since 1977 and is a well-known speaker on all aspects of the agricultural industry.

Robin was Chairman of LEAF Marque from its inception in 2002 until 2018. He is involved in Social & Care Farming and since 2000 has been actively involved in the development and management of a Care farm in West Sussex in conjunction with National Trust. His particular experience with public facing activities, combined with his role as a Chartered Environmentalist, has meant that he has also been involved in the creation and management of Country Parks.

He advises cooperative boards and works closely with Governmental agencies, accountants, solicitors, land agents and banks in the region for the benefit of clients.

The Farming Conference is held by the South of England Agricultural Society as part of its charitable remit to fund and support agricultural education and countryside learning.

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