The College aims to provide the wider progressive farming movement and associated networks with a year-round platform to explore key themes in agriculture and food systems. It is not based in a physical location or tied to an institution – instead, dialogues are convened over 1 or 2 days in different locations depending on the theme to be discussed.
A creative culture is facilitated by the informality and residential set up of the dialogues – over a couple of days they are a ‘safe space’ of open discourse for up to 25 people from within and beyond the real farming movement.
The dialogues are democratic and inclusive platforms designed to discuss a particular issue or theme in depth and from differing perspectives. Participants from wider fields such as policy, education, conservation and the arts are invited to ensure that the discussions are creative and dynamic – they are an opportunity to meet new people and share understandings, and visions.
Dialogues provide a space for thoughtful critique and debate, developing shared analyses and maintaining the links between theory and practice. They facilitate information exchange, the gathering and sharing of an evidence base, and the formation of new alliances and collaborations that would perhaps otherwise not have happened. Recent dialogues have included discussions on rewilding, nature financialisation and pedagogy/learning.
It is hoped that dialogue outcomes will ultimately feed into policy discussions, and positively influence curriculum design and development in mainstream agricultural education.
The dialogues draw from and feed into the annual Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) and other areas of the Real Farming Trust’s work.