Thursday, 4 April 2013

Nuffield Contemporary Scholars Conference - The End of The Beginning

Sunday morning arrived all too quickly after a late night in the bar; continuing  the discussions after Steve Larocque's excellent presentation; dancing, talking and letting our hair down (those of us that have any).  We even got restricted in the bar to one drink per person per hour, but that didn't dampen anybodies spirits.  Over the week I have made some incredible friendships and had some very interesting conversations and discussions about farming, global threats, encouraging new entrants into agriculture, trying to strengthen the appeal of agriculture to our customers and how we can feed people more sustainably.  I have also learnt that other farmers around the whole world are having the same discussion that we are, we are not alone and that by talking about problems, solutions can be found.  Soberingly I also appreciate the small part we, the UK, have to play in the global production of food.  However our part is becoming clearer to me, we need to be more productive, more efficient, more environmentally aware and better linked to our customer, whether that is the supermarket selling our lamb or the flour miller grinding the wheat that we grow.  Just the right time for my study topic, 20T/ha in 20 Years time, Fact or Fiction?
I also have 78 new best friends.  You might think that is impossible after only a week, but I know that if I wanted to go and visit any of the #Nuffield13 scholars doors would be wide open in all four corners of the globe and that is something very special.  Of course that is mirrored here at Overbury.  The washing machine will be maintained regularly to make sure it's ready to be pressed into service.
It really was a great week and one that will stay with me forever.  I know that we all felt the same way, and it was hard to say good bye to everyone; assuming that, as a group, we will probably never be together again.  There will be reunions from time to time but I sadly doubt all of us will be together again.
For some it was on with the Global Focus Group Tour, something I plan to do in the future.  Blake Vince (above) from Ontario is part of that group who headed to Washington DC very early on Sunday morning to continue the 7 week world tour.  Next week (8th April) they are in the UK so we'll meet up again, which will be fantastic to hear their stories from California and Brazil, having seen some facebook pictures and comments.
For others it was heading back to Toronto airport and back to the UK, but for me; I headed North West with Karen Daynard (CDN), Julian Raine (NZ) and Karen Brosnan (IRE) back to Guelph.
We stopped along the way at Sue-Anne Staff's winery, you could say for 'one for the road' and then after dropping Julian and Karen along the way, Karen (CDN- next to me) headed to her parents house. Terry and Dot Daynard had very kindly offered to put me up for the night.
I have to say it was a great feeling to be in a proper home and not living out of a suitcase for a change.  Terry and Dot cooked a lovely meal (on the BBQ in the snow, proper Canadian's) and we were joined by Karen and her sister Kelly, who spoke earlier in the week on social media.  After a great nights sleep and Dot doing some washing for me (thank you so much), we had a look around the farm buildings and the outside corn store
which was used to store corn (maize) on the cob over winter.  The cold dry air would keep the crop safe gradually drying it out over the winter before it was sold.  Terry and Dot showed me some pictures of the store being filled.  In a dry year the cobs would flow easily up the elevator but if they were wet almost every one had to be prodded up into store. We also has a sneaky peak around the machinery shed and saw this little beauty..
tucked away.  I guess it was a sign, once entangled in the Nuffield world there is no escaping!

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