New rural community event focuses on regenerative farming in Jersey

India Hamilton, Lucy Filby, Joe Leigh, Edward Bonn and David Wolfe discuss the funding of agriculture Pictures: DAVID FERGUSON

A NEW rural event which took place last week is set to become a regular feature of the Island’s farming calendar and a forum for innovative ideas.

The ReGen Gathering conference, held in a field in Trinity, focused on regenerative farming and the community.

It is hoped that the event will enjoy similar success to the Groundswell regenerative agriculture event in Hertfordshire, which started small and now attracts thousands. The event is separate to the Jersey Farming Conference, which is due to be held at La Mare Wine Estate on 2 November.

While the other conference focuses on the business of farming, the focus of ReGen is more on the rural community – its present state and preservation in the future – and suggesting ways in which agriculture in Jersey could diversify and evolve in an era of change and localisation.

It was a free one-day event with panel discussions, workshops and demonstrations about innovative food and farming approaches that brought together a diverse range of people and ideas.

There were more than 20 speakers, plus exhibitors and technical demonstrations, building on the work of the government’s Rural Economic Framework, the sustainable co-operative SCOOP, the Jersey International Centre of Advanced Studies and members of the food and farming community across the Channel Islands.

John Vautier, the government’s senior lead for the rural and marine economy, said: “We initially thought an attendance of 20 or 30 people would be a good start, and look what has happened – 300 tickets reserved and standing room only.”

Shearer and sheep consultant Rachel Stratton

Alan Le Maistre, who, with his brother, Charles, and cousin, John, farms as Le Tâcheron Farm and on whose land the event took place, said in his presentation at the start of the conference: “We love the heritage of Jersey. We want to see Jersey continue to farm and continue to preserve its rural environment.

“For us, regeneration is also about regenerating the rural community. We want to be part of a vibrant rural community. We want to work together with large farms and with smaller farms like ours to give Jersey a more diversified farming future.

“We hope this conference opens up a lot of debate; we hope it brings people together, and we hope that it will allow people to look forward positively to how we can operate a more diversified and richer rural community, and bring in that collaboration and that Jersey spirit that has been the foundation of the Island’s farming for so many generations.”

The event was organised by Hypha Consulting (India Hamilton and Taylor Smythe) and Farm Jersey (John Garton), together with Le Tacheron Farm, JICAS, SCOOP, the government’s rural economy section and the LEAF organisation. It was sponsored by Normans, Evelyn Partners and the Bliss Brew Company.