UWTSD’s Dr Jane Davidson and Dr Nick Campion attend Harmony Conference in Llandovery


University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Dr Jane Davidson and Dr Nick Campion attended the Harmony in Food and Farming Conference in Llandovery on July 10 and 11.

The two-day conference was organised by the Sustainable Food Trust with keynote speakers, including Dame Ellen MacArthur exploring the ways in which principles of Harmony manifest in food, agriculture and other spheres, including the environment, education, health and music. A range of parallel sessions were also held, in which speakers, including Dr Davidson and Dr Campion shared their insights about principles of Harmony in food and farming and other related fields.

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Royal Patron of UWTSD, opened the conference, calling for a radical change in the way we view our food and farming systems.

In the first keynote address on this theme since the publication of his book, Harmony: A New Way of Looking at our World, the Prince of Wales said: "We simply cannot solve the problems we have caused by responding with a ‘business as usual’ approach.”

Instead, he argued that we must put nature at the heart of our thinking and take a much more integrative view.

In his address, The Prince of Wales said: "It is more commonly the view that things like beauty and harmony, a reverence for the sacred, putting Nature at the heart of our thinking and so on, have no place in agricultural matters… It is worth taking a step back and considering the consequences; what happens when we separate what we are from what we do?

"We are struggling with the deep rooted consequences of an immense separation… In my lifetime I have watched the industrialization of food production turn the living organism of an individual farm into little more than a factory.

"My great hope is that your conference may strengthen the common understanding of why this approach has to change.” He went on to say, that in order to address this fundamental problem, “We have to find ways of bringing about a widespread transition to farming, where farms become more balanced and harmonious entities – within nature, within their communities, and certainly within the capacity of the planet.”

"In order to achieve this, we must restore harmony to farming, which means, “having to put back as much as you take out, thus working with the grain of nature. We must also broaden our inspiration and learning by considering what we can learn from things like traditional architecture, traditional crafts, music, education and engineering, and thus, enable us to establish a much more sure-footed response to the enormous problems we face by forging a more circular form of economy.”

UWTSD Professor of Practice Tony Juniper, was also in attendance. He said: “The conference on Harmony in Food and Farming has revealed the deep nature of the challenges we face in relation to feeding ourselves long into the future but also has unearthed a great range of solutions that are not only good for our food but are also good for people and the planet.” He also addressed the “grossly destructive practice” of farm soil erosion and the switch from mixed to monoculture farming systems. He also spoke of the “crisis of perception” that leads us to see ourselves as existing outside of nature.

UWTSD’s Dr Davidson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement and Sustainability aid: "I was delighted that UWTSD had such a high profile at the Harmony in Food and Farming Conference with a very public acknowledgement of the university’s broad commitment to sustainability in the curriculum and across our campuses, including specific initiatives in relation to the harmony principles, food, environment and spirituality, particularly on our Lampeter campus.

"The conference was able to engage 400 people in the culinary delights from west Wales with local producers demonstrating the high quality of our local farmers and producers. The university has already made a commitment to using local producers wherever possible and is proud to have been the first university in the UK in 1914 to receive the Soil Association’s Gold Award for using local produce, particularly at our external events. We regained the award in 2016 and will continue to look at ways we can further support local producers to celebrate the diverse and wonderful food available to us on our doorstep and across our local region.”

Patrick Holden, CEO of the Sustainable Food Trust, said: "We are not talking about a niche market here, we are talking about systems changed. The Prince’s Harmony book is a call to action, since there is an urgent need for a fundamental change to our food systems if we are to realign them to serve the needs of societal and planetary health.”

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