What is #OurField?
#OurField is a shared farming experience that supports farmers financially and emotionally - while connecting people to what it takes to grow food.
#OurField connects a group of 60 citizens who co-invest in a farmer's field for a year. Together with the farmer they decide what to grow, how to grow it and what happens with the crop.
This financial and emotional support encourages farmers to: experiment with different growing methods; learn about new opportunities through the co-investors doing research; better understand public perspectives. At the same time the co-investors share in the risk of farming and better understand the farmer's perspective. This is as much about empathy and a joint experience as it is learning about growing food.
Why do we need this?
Well, we started with grain because at the moment, modern grains are increasingly linked to improper gut function and our flour is so lacking in nutrition that producers are required to add nutrients by law. More generally, there is a lack of support to aid farmers operating on slim financial margins to move to less intensive farming methods. This movement is about connecting people economically and emotionally to the land, experimenting with new ways of 'co-farming', and empowering people and farmers to take charge of our food system.
We are working towards creating an online platform and system that supports others in running the #OurField model worldwide. An open-source toolkit will be available as well as a model that can be licensed. We have already received interest from people in France, Canada, New Zealand and more!
Where did #OurField begin?
We begin in December 2016 with the first #OurField at Weston Farm in Hertfordshire, named #OurFieldWeston. Weston Farm is run by John and Paul Cherry, who have been running a no-till farm for 6 harvests and are exploring new ways of doing regenerative agriculture! John is the resident #OurField farmer, and is excited about the experimentation that comes with the #OurField model.
#OurField was inspired by a collaborative art project by Anne-Marie Culhane and Ruth Levene in 2016 called A Field of Wheat. The project brought a collective of 42 together to invest in & make shared decisions about a 22 acre field of wheat in Branston Booths, Lincolnshire, while exploring & reflecting on the global and local economics, social, environmental & culture impacts of cereal growing in the UK today.
Find out more at: fieldofwheat.co.uk
I'm not an #OurField co-investor, but can I follow the fun?
Over the course of the year, the collective will use the online decision-making platform Loomio to host the discussions over what to grow, how to grow it, and where to sell the produce. You can follow the discussion in real-time and also follow the decisions and votes. Follow the process with this public link!
If you're interested in running a future #OurField with your community, then stay tuned!
We are documenting every part of the journey so that we will have a template for others to create their own #OurFields in their communities.
Please get in touch (email us!) to discuss how you might want to get involved in the future, or use the form below to sign up to our community newsletter!