Come to an organic farming discussion group in 2010
Although the 'season to be merry' is nearly upon us, the season of organic farmer discussion group meetings is already in full swing, because most groups meet during the winter months when nights are long. These meetings are free for producers and are organized by Organic Centre Wales as part of the Farming Connect Organic Development Programme.
Discussion groups are a great way for farmers to update their skill set within a friendly environment. Farmers' demanding workloads can make it difficult for them to keep abreast of the changes that happen so often in the agricultural sector, and some problems can be borne unnecessarily because a farmer doesn't know what resources are available, or thinks wrongly that they would be too costly.
Organic Centre Wales has a network of 24 discussion groups spread across Wales and are facilitated by Farming Connect Knowladge Transfer staff . The majority are focussed on beef and sheep but there are also groups for poultry, horticulture and dairy. They organize a full programme of meetings for producers to bring their skills and knowledge up to date, share ideas and provide feedback on what life is like from a producer's viewpoint.
Groups meet in local pubs, village halls or community centres and are informal. The focus for discussion at the meetings is chosen by the members with guest speakers attending occaisionally to introduce seasonal topics. In the autumn for instance, groups may have meetings on forage analysis with a nutritionist present to explain the results and suggest rations for various categories of livestock .
Philip Jones, one of the organisers of the meetings, said: “Discussion groups, because they are funded by Farming Connect, can make the necessary expertise affordable. It's good for farmers to know that they are not alone with all the technical and organizational problems they face. Talking to other farmers who have similar challenges is an immediate morale booster, and these meetings can often help you find answers to immediate problems and solve future ones too!”
Any organic farmers and growers who are would like to know about meetings in their area should contact Organic Centre Wales on 01970 622248 to enquire about groups that meet close to them.
, Organic Centre Wales, 01970 622100 or 07791 442498.
Notes for editors
1. Organic Centre Wales is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government to provide information on organic food and farming to producers, food businesses, consumers and others. It is based at Aberystwyth University and run by a partnership consisting of the ADAS, the Organic Research Centre Elm Farm, and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University.
2. The Organic Conversion Information Service (01970 622100) is funded by WAG to provide information to producers considering conversion – an information pack and up to three free on-farm visits are available.
3. The Organic Farming Scheme is currently closed.
4. Farming Connect, working closely with its partner organisations, provides one to one support, knowledge, expertise, training and advisory services tailored to the needs of farmers in Wales. Many of these services are fully funded or subsidised and the service is both flexible and accessible. You can register with the Farming Connect Service Centre on 08456 000 813 or contact Farming Connect directly at your nearest WAG Divisional Office. OCW is funded by Farming Connect to deliver the Organic Development Programme.