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If you can’t push a square peg in a round hole, let’s look at how we might manage human and planetary health for best long-term outcomes


Rob Verkerk PhD is an internationally acclaimed, multi-disciplinary sustainability scientist with a 35-year background in environmental, agricultural, food, nutritional and health sciences. This experience spans academic, commercial and non-profit sectors. He has a MSc and doctorate from Imperial College London, where he also worked as a postdoctoral research fellow for 7 years. He is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition.

In 2002 Dr Verkerk founded the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) International, a non-profit change organisation that works towards protecting, developing and implementing innovative and sustainable approaches to natural and sustainable healthcare using the tools of ‘good science’ and ‘good law’. He has been the executive and scientific director of ANH Intl since its inception. The organization has been at the forefront of protecting and promoting natural and personalized approaches to healthcare in Europe and beyond, having extensive links with integrative and non-allopathic medicine associations around the world. He is also a co-director of ANH Consultancy Ltd, which provides bespoke consultancy services to companies and practitioners in the natural health sector worldwide. He has authored over 60 papers in scientific journals and conference proceedings and contributes regularly to conferences and popular media.

What quantitative parameters can we rely on? Are subjective, qualitative determinants of any value to our current reductionist world view? David Thomas aims to provide both quantitative and qualitative research to demonstrate the historical decline in food quality.


David Thomas has always had an active interest in the human body. At the age of 16 he won the UK Junior 100yds championship. Unfortunately, whilst at the Mexico Olympic probables’ camp he damaged his back weight training – an incident that effectively curtailed his aspirations in athletics but provided him with an insight as to the importance of optimum body balance and bio-mechanics.

David graduated in Geology and later gained an MSc in Mineral Exploration from Imperial College.  He worked for nine years in copper, cobalt, lead, zinc, gold and uranium exploration and mining and during this period was elected as a Fellow of the Geological Society.

Subsequently David retrained in America as a chiropractor and established his practice in Forest Row in 1982.  He later incorporated nutritional therapy into his practice and is a founder Member of the Register of Nutritional Therapists. This background has provided him with an unusual insight into the origin, therapeutic uses, and toxic potential of minerals and trace elements.

David’s interest in nutrition and his concern that the foods we have available to us today are not as nutritious as those in the past inspired David to conduct research work into the historical loss of minerals and trace elements in the food available to us as a Nation since 1940 – and the significance of this to health.  The results were published in Nutrition and Health in 2003 and as a result of this research, he was awarded the prestigious Cleve Award by the McCarrison Society.

David’s background in Geology together with working for over 35years with differing therapeutic modalities has given him an unusual awareness into the evolution and have a remarkable ability to adapt, compensate and adjust to the negative physical, mental and environmental traumas we experience on a daily basis on this wonderful planet of ours. However, it would appear that the external and internal toxic loads are becoming ever more prevalent and the need to begin to readdress this situation is evident.  

David has served for a number of years as a Trustee for 2 local Bio-Dynamic farms and he feels the fundamental disconnect experienced by the vast majority of the population since the industrial revolution could be aided on many levels if we could consciously rediscover the healing effects of the sowing, growing, reaping, preparing and eating of good quality food.

Generally, when people talk about health they tend to talk about disease. How to create and manage positive health in the farming and food system and what the process actually looks like is rarely discussed. Organic agriculture is the one farming system that is explicitly built upon a concept of health. Pioneers of organic farming and wholistic health believed that a) the health of soil, plant, animal and man are one and indivisible and b) if disease can be infectious, so can health. However, in reality, farming “for health” and managing the process of positive health on farms is not well articulated or understood and there are significant inconsistencies in output even on farms who are “doing things right”. This talk will highlight what is known and unknown about some of these core issues.


Lawrence Woodward started farming organically in 1976. The challenges of converting a conventional mixed dairy farm to organic led directly to him co-founding the Organic Research Centre – Elm Farm, where he was the director for 30 years. In 2001 he was awarded an O.B.E. for services to organic farming, having played a pivotal role in the strategic and practical development of the organic sector in the UK and internationally.

Positions he has held include Chairman of the British Organic Standards Committee, Chairman of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Member of the Soil Association Council and Management Committee, Member of United Kingdom Register of Organic Food Standards (UKROFS) Board and the English Organic Action Plan task force. He was the founding chairman of the Organic Milk Suppliers Co-op (OMSCo), Organic Arable, Organic Seed Producers Ltd and the Organic Resource Agency (ORA) and is a former trustee of the New Economics Foundation.

He is a director of  Beyond GM and Whole Health Agriculture and works with the IFOAM EU Group, the Gaia Foundation and ORC. He has been and remains deeply engaged in articulating the underlying wholistic concepts of organic food and farming; and how they relate to food quality and health under today’s social, economic and environmental conditions.  He has been a long-standing supporter of the work of David Fleming and the concept of The Lean Economy

“Nourishing Polycultures”- a holistic approach at natural farming using no-dig methods, wild edibles (aka weeds) and polycultures to produce nutrient-dense food in a sustainable way that enhances biodiversity and brings wildlife in; for healthy people and a healthy planet. We will look at some of the principles behind soil health and building healthy soil and how we put this in practice in our small-scale organic market-garden on the edge of Dartmoor and what we’ve learned about the link between soil life, healthy plants, and maximum nutrition.


Martin grew up in his family mixed farm in East Devon and started working at the farm along with his dad since a young age, later attending agricultural college, working at a dairy farm and eventually moving into organic horticulture. Martin has spent the last decade learning about soil biology and its key role in producing nutrient-dense foods and regenerating the land.

Sara has a background on academic research and community development and she first came into the world of farming thru a rising concern about how our food was produced and how damaging the current global food system is. Sara has a keen interest in nutrition and she is interested in exploring the connection between soil health and nutrient-dense foods.

Martin and Sara run Hilltown Organics, a small non-dig organic market garden on the edge of Dartmoor where they grow veg and fruits in a polyculture and agroforestry system,  mimicking nature’s mixed up way of growing. Martin and Sara are both also involved in raising awareness about food and farming issues and they work with various groups and organisation to explore these issues within their local community and beyond.

Real food is what people need to thrive. As well as macro and micronutrients, real plant food should produce a complex array of phytonutrients – the defence and other compounds which in turn provide our all-important medicine and immune-support. Plants grown with sufficient natural stress from predators, microbes and UV light are stimulated to produce antimicrobial compounds such as polyphenols and alkaloids in response to this complexity around them.

All animals who eat such plants in appropriate amounts, unless they contain frank poisons, may benefit.  Hydroponic or mollycoddled plants grown with pesticides and fungicides and crude fertilisers simply will not produce these important secondary metabolites.  We need complex food containing a wide mix of phytonutrients – black and dark polyphenol pigments to feed our immune systems, cardiovasculature and gut microbes, phytoestrogens to balance our excess and inflammatory hormones,  and the fibre, edible skins, pith and seeds such as grape and citrus seeds that concentrate medicinal compounds. For meat eaters, the same applies: did the animal we eat, itself feed on a natural diverse diet of plants, and lead as full a life as it could, even on a farm?   Without such food, we are all malnourished. However, while we should all be activists for such food, we also need to be aware that fruits and vegetables of even minimal quality is not available to many living in economically deprived areas of the UK. Making plant food available to all – and legumes and wholegrains are among the cheapest and best quality wholefood – should be a priority.  Seeds that have been developed to reduce the phytonutrient content, such as the bitter mustard-oil glycosides (glucosinolates) of the cabbage family, should be restricted – it is, after all, our human right to have access to foods with sufficient natural defence chemicals intact.


Alex Laird, Medical herbalist, and founder director, Living Medicine Since 2000 Alex has run the first herbal clinic in a hospital dermatology department at Whipps Cross in East London and practised at Breast Cancer Haven in Fulham. She also runs a private clinic, lectures and has published herbal medicine research. Initially a TV producer, she then worked as an aromatherapist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital and in HIV centres for drug users and others. Her book, Root to Stem a seasonal guide to natural recipes and remedies, is published by Penguin on April 2019 

Inspiring people to reconnect with food and nature for wellbeing lies at the heart of her practice and the charity Living Medicine she founded. Its medical herbalists run practical self-care programmes to reskill people in how to use food and plants to treat everyday ailments and better manage chronic conditions. Living Medicine’s vision is to revive this knowledge nationwide and then co-create a beautiful world medicinal garden in the capital. Exchanging knowledge between all cultures and linked to medicinal gardens globally, the Living Medicine Centre will be Britain’s first world herbal medicine/food centre of excellence.

Anna’s inspiration in the study of plants came from a book published in 1629. When she first read the Paradisus Terrestris, by an ancestor John Parkinson,  herbalist to Charles 1, she realised how many layers of understanding of plant potential have been lost as we rely on synthetic pharmaceuticals for medicine and commercially farmed vegetables for food. She will talk about some of the choice discoveries for food and medicine that emerged in the course of unearthing the full story of John Parkinson’s life and society for her book, ‘Nature’s Alchemist.’


Anna Parkinson is a writer and healer, and a former BBC producer. Her books are ‘Nature Alchemist, John Parkinson, herbalist to Charles I’ and ‘Change Your Mind, Heal Your Body’.

Nose to Tail Eating: Nutrition and Evolution.

a/w more info on talk


Heather Rosa FBANT FHEA

Heather has a thirty-year association with ‘real food’ working initially in the health food industry and then in nutritional therapy education. Heather lead the first degree in Nutritional Therapy at the University of Westminster and five years ago became Dean of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition. One of her specialist areas is evolution and nutritional needs.

The way milk is produced on farms has changed beyond all recognition, in the past 30 plus years I have been running dairy herds and many people have fallen out of love with milk. But, I believe we can make milk great again, by connecting farmers and consumers and telling the truth about its provenance. Free Range Dairy Network is empowering conscientious consumers to choose the way milk is produced on farms and enjoy great tasting, healthy milk that only comes from cows free to graze in fields


Since graduating from Harper Adams Agricultural College in 1986, Neil has run a number of diverse dairy farming businesses in the UK.
In 1998 he was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship and traveled to both Australia and the USA, where he explored how dairy farm businesses attempted to achieve economies of scale and looked at the challenges of managing large dairy herds.
The journey Neil has taken in milking and managing dairy herds has led him to question the benefits of a relentless pursuit of higher volumes of milk from cows and farms. He is acutely aware of the pressure on dairy farmers to adopt increasing intensification, fuelled by those selling science and technology and he has witnessed at first hand, the damage caused by the growing industrialisation of milk production amongst UK herds. He firmly believes that the adoption of robust dairy breeds and improved grassland management offers farmers the opportunity to develop a sustainable farming system and create real value in milk.
In September 2011 Neil established a new initiative called Free Range Dairy, with the aim of restoring value to pasture-based dairy farms. Free Range Dairy encourages milk producers to share their knowledge to help them regain control of their farms and improve profitability, for the benefit of farmers, cows, and consumers.
Neil is now a director of The Free Range Dairy Network, a Community Interest Company (CIC) established in 2014 and is now working with small, regional milk processors to market milk under the Pasture Promise label. Farmers supplying the milk are required to graze their cows for a minimum of 180 days and nights a year. The company seeks to win recognition for a clearly defined system of milk production and return a price premium to farmers who commit to grazing their cows.
Neil was appointed Chairman of the British Cattle Breeders Club in 2013 and ran a very successful conference in January 2014.
In May 2014 Neil was voted BBC Food & Farming Awards Outstanding Farmer of the Year.

If ever there were a time when clarity on the issue of food was needed, it is the present. Yet emotion is woven into all thought and action, and there are few topics as emotive as food. What passes for “reasoning” can so easily tip into “rationalisation” whenever strong emotions are aroused. In this session, I will share some of the very many ways in which our ability to think clearly and rationally about food can become compromised.


Dr Andrew Morrice (“Boris”) General Practitioner, Psychotherapist, Educator – JoinedUpHealth

Andrew has been a member of the BHMA for 30 years, co-led the London Students group of the BHMA from 1988 – 91, and has remained committed to holism in a varied career that has included the History of Medicine, General Practice, and Human Givens psychotherapy. Building on experience teaching Whole Person Care over 16 years at Bristol Medical School he is currently working on a set of CPD events for GPs and other primary care clinicians. The main focus of these workshops and seminars is to introduce clinicians to the biology of thought, emotion, and disease, viewing the scientific data through an extension of the Human Givens model, to create a jargon-free understanding of human function and wellbeing.

In this session, David will explore the allure of easy answers to issues that we feel passionate about and just wish others would just see sense! We’ll explore where binary thinking (like vegan good/meat bad or small farmer good / corporation bad) might just create the next problem and we’ll explore what’s needed to think and act systemically. To hold a position strongly, with passion and yet dance lightly – and what kind of thinking might be harder, but more effective. We’ll play around with how we can expand our thinking – and see what emerges in this participative workshop.


David has been developing leaders in organisations for most of his adult life. He leads the consultancy Harthill (, known for its work on inquiry, leading in complexity and the impact of how we think on how we lead. His Harvard Business Review article “The Seven Transformations of Leadership” remains one of the most impactful and read articles on leadership. He is a Board member of the National Centre for Integrative Medicine.

Chronic disease is sabotaging our health, destroying our quality of life, shortening our lifespan, bankrupting our governments, and threatening the health of future generations. Our existing healthcare (sick-care?) system is not sustainable and the crisis will not be solved by money, but by right nutrition with high quality, nutrient-dense food – for all.
The deep nutrition in traditional foods such as meats, eggs, butter, cheese and milk from grass-fed animals; bone and mineral broths; organic fruit and vegetables, wild-caught seafood; cultured and fermented foods; and herbs and spices kept generations of our ancestors free from the chronic diseases which plague us today.
Today, we’re confused and no longer know what to eat or where to shop – we need help to understand and care where our food comes from and to become more conscious and much healthier consumers. We look to professionals, ‘eat well’ plates, ‘traffic lights’ and all kinds of diet gurus to tell us what to eat and each tells us something different.
But, as the science is showing us, Granny knew best!


Izabella Natrins BSc Dip NLC (IHS) CGP
A former health research psychologist in Public Health Medicine and NHS Clinical Programme Manager, Izabella is a qualified Nutrition and Lifestyle Health Coach and a Certified GAPS (Digestive Health) Practitioner. She founded a health education website IzabellaNatrins.Com to promote better nutrition and holistic health and well-being.
Inspired by training at the renowned, organic Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland, Izabella became a nutritional chef after re-awakening to traditional farming, food production, and preparation methods, from soil to plate. She writes, educates, inspires and teaches people to regain traditional food wisdom, to engage with sound science and to learn the forgotten skills that restore energy, vitality, and true health.
Izabella led a team of farmers, doctors and nutritionists at the Oxford Real Farming Conference (2018) in a session ‘Farming, Food and Medicine – A Healthy Ménage a Trois?’ and has recently published ‘Once Upon a Cook – Food Wisdom, Better Living’ to inspire people to reclaim the kitchen, put traditional foods back on the table and take back their health.

Izabella Natrins Food |Health |Lifestyle
Once Upon a Cook – Food Wisdom, Better Living

Snapshot of Local Food for Good Activity from Bristol to Plymouth


As an experienced business consultant, Phil has provided strategic advice and support to large employers in the private and public sectors, micro and small businesses, social enterprises and charitable organisations for nearly 30 years. For the last 14 years, he has also delivered numerous funded economic and community development projects across Somerset and the wider South West.
Phil is well known to the local business community for leading projects such as the Code Club, a project helping to address skills shortages in the digital sector, the Genesis Project to promote and increase the use of environmental technologies, and delivered the ‘Green and Grow’ economic strategy for Taunton Deane.
Now as CEO of Somerset Local Food, a not-for-profit Community Benefit Society, he is building his understanding and developing practical delivery models of how local food can be used for good to increase social impact beyond supporting micro-businesses in rural communities, with a particular emphasis on the health and wellbeing of our local communities.

Philip is an active member of the Institute of Directors (IoD) and was a member of the South West Regional Board until the end of his tenure in December 2018.

The Sustainable Food Story is a roving supper club that travels around the world connecting citizens to the origins of our food through interactive dinners.
We are a team of scientists, chefs, storytellers and farmers who believe that we can go so much further than farm-to-fork. We grow our own produce or create close relationships with our producers; we utilize surplus and underutilized goods; forage in our edible world, demystify and discuss food and farming issues through stories.


Abi Aspen Glencross is a scientist, farmer, cook and botanical explorer based in Hertfordshire.
A trained chemical engineer and ex-synthetic meat scientist she changed her career tact in 2017, and left to farm at Stone Barns and Blue Hill, NYC. Through this journey, she developed a real interest in grains and now is director at Duchess Grains, who grow, mill and retail heritage and alternative grains. She also co-founded OurField, a cereal coop movement.
This year she was named one of Code Hospitality magazines ‘100 most influential women in hospitality’.
When not working she can be found back in her Cornish homeland, with her characteristic ski suit with a cup of tea and slice of obscure grain cake in hand.

Sadhbh Moore has been a chef and cookery teacher at the Skip Garden for 4 years and has been interested in food, environmental issues, nature and questioning the status quo of the world around her for as long as she can remember.
She grew up in rural Ireland surrounded by growing and cooking wholesome, organic veggies and herbs, with regular fishing and foraging trips with her family, whom she now realises were unusually “ecogastronomy” focused.
She graduated with a degree in Sustainable Development from the University of St Andrews in 2013, where she wrote essays on and got involved with all the environmental and food-related projects she could find. She is currently undertaking a Masters in Global Public Health Nutrition.
Her passion is root-to-fruit and reducetarian cooking with local, homegrown, foraged and seasonal produce that supports more sustainable food systems.

Looking at the work of ‘Scotland The Bread’ charity (started by my late wife Veronica and me)in developing a grain and bread system that is diverse, healthy, locally-controlled and sustainable. We research wheat and rye varieties chosen for genetic diversity and improved nutrient density under organic conditions, mill them into wholemeal using a low-energy intermediate technology and work with bakers, chefs, procurement officers, and community groups to get properly-fermented bread to where it is most needed.
We will reflect on how, in soils, seeds, stomachs, sourdoughs, and society, diversity is emerging as the ‘golden thread’ running through the multi-coloured tapestry of healthy life.

  • measuring ‘nutrient density’ in bread grains
  • ensuring that such density is not thrown away or ignored at the milling and baking stages
  • developing metrics for rewarding farmers for growing less but better (‘people nourished per hectare’), and
  • seeing ‘getting to scale’ as being a circular, ecological process rather than a linear financial one


Andrew Whitley is founder/director of Bread Matters Ltd and a leader of the artisan baking revival, having started the organic Village Bakery in Cumbria, following a short career in the BBC Russian Service, in the 1970s. He is author of the seminal Bread Matters and the best-selling DO Sourdough. He has an MSc in Food Policy from City University London and is credited with ‘changing the way we think about bread’ (BBC Food & Farming Awards). He co-founded the Real Bread Campaign and is a former vice-chair of the Soil Association. He is chair of Scotland The Bread, an action research and training charity that grows and mills diverse and nutrient-dense cereal varieties in Fife with the aim of creating a healthy, fair and sustainable grain and bread supply.

A polemical, off the cuff talk.


Nick Barnard co-founded Rude Health in London in 2005 with his wife Camilla. Rude Health is renowned for its innovative, delicious and nourishing foods and drinks, winning scores of awards for taste and ethical standards (including many Soil Association Organic Food awards, numerous Great Taste awards, and also being recognised in Cool Brand’s list of Britain’s trendiest brands). Nick is the inspiration behind the Rude Health rants, and is well-known for his infectious enthusiasm for ancestral food and drinks. In 2013 he was crowned World Speciality Porridge Champion, and continues his quest for the Golden Spurtle. In 2016, Nick released his first cookbook, Eat Right, an inspirational and upbeat celebration of positive eating. Nick’s book offers truly achievable and simple ideas, recipes and advice on how to be nourished by ancestral foods in a modern world. Eat Right has won acclaim from food writers and chefs across the UK including Cyrus Todiwala, Diana Henry, Gizzi Erskine, and Joanna Blythman, and was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2018.


Tim Martin is the founder of Farm Wilder, a social enterprise that’s launching a new labeling scheme for sustainable and wildlife friendly food and drink.  Tim was formerly the executive producer of many BBC Natural History Unit series including Lost Land of the Jaguar, Animals With Cameras, Bear Family & Me, Harvest and Natural World.

A brief introduction to the state of the global seed system, and what can be done about it.


Fred’s background is in horticulture, ecology and human ecology. He has worked in a range of environments from urban rooftops to Spanish desserts. He has been passionate about seeds ever since growing his first chilli plant on a windowsill while at university, and in 2018 took the plunge and started Vital Seeds, a new organic seed company based in the rolling hills of Devon.

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