Friday, October 28, 2011 - 09:00

Food security, farming co-operatives and sharing land are all topics for debate at a forthcoming seminar hosted by the Eden Project and East Anglia Food Link.

The aim of the conference, which takes place on November 7 in Coventry, is to discuss how to set up a nationwide network of smallholding co-operatives whereby farmers pool resources such as equipment and business know-how to help them compete in the UK marketplace.

Rural activist and former farmer William Hudson will be presenting his idea for a modern version of the Land Settlement Association (LSA), the scheme set up by the government in the 1930s, to offer unemployed men a new way of life on the land. The LSA helped maximise food production during the war effort and continued to provide locally-sourced produce until the 1980s.

William, Director of East Anglia Food Link, believes a system of collective farming would not only encourage young people into the industry, but would help tackle the issue of food security in the UK.

He said: “We have one week’s supply of fresh fruit and vegetables in this country, such is our ‘just in time’ delivery system. This is fine, but if there are breakdowns because of wars, volcanic ash or climate change we would be close to starvation.

"The idea is to create [UK-based] holdings of a size that means they are economically viable and that they benefit from pooled resources."

Delegates to the seminar will hear talks from Hudson as well as Eden’s Economic Botanist Andrew Ormerod, and representatives from the former Land Settlement Association and its farming estates.

Andrew said: "We may not be able to get our food from any part of the world in future. We are moving into a time of uncertainty with a rising UK and world population."

The event takes place on Monday November 7, 2011 from 10am to 4pm at Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG.

Entry is free, but please contact William Hudson on or 01379 688374 if you’d like to attend.