The Land is Ours

TLIO Autumn Gathering 2011

At Monkton Wyld Court, nr Axminster, Dorset, 8-9th October 2011

 

Camping in front of the main building at Monkton Wyld

 

Jyoti Fernandez giving a tour of Fivepenny Farm

 
 
 

 

 

 

The sublime Dead Plants played their Caledonian Skiffle in the marquee late Saturday Night

 

A pic from the final plenary in the main hall at Monkton at the end of the Gathering
(all pics courtesy of Tony Gosling)

 

Autumn Gathering 2011 Report

TLIO hosted their first Gathering in 11 years in the Autumn of 2011 on the weekend of Sat 8th to Sun 9th October at Monkton Wyld Court, near Axminster, Dorset.

Attended by more than  70 people over a full weekend it covered much ground. There were workshops and speakers on the CAP (the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy), GM, setting up land trusts (Martin Large), affordable housing, the fight against mega farms, squatting, low impact smallholdings and homesteads and their problems, forests, the Planning and Localism Bill, Reclaim The Fields, and a good plenary with the beginnings of much wider debate.

The attendance was equally broad, with a majority of young people including a large contingent of activists from the Reclaim the Fields UK campaign network, many very experienced older people, and a good geographical spread.

Reclaim the Fields provided a report back from the European Reclaim the Fields gathering in Romania at the end of September, where activists took part in an action opposed to what could be Europe's largest open cast gold mine in Rosia Montana. Reclaim the Fields had their own workshop to discuss their campaign priorities, such as direct action for food growing land acquisition and community growers networks, which they were good enough to delay to accommodate a film presentation on young entrants to farming, presented by a young farmer from Herefordshire - Russell Carrington. Alongside the  Reclaim the Fields network, it was felt it was a good idea to give time to being made aware of a more conventional, but equally valid, route into farming for young people.

The workshops on setting up land trusts, CAP and on GM were led by campaigners who have addressed these issues in both depth and breadth. The most popular workshops over the weekend were the workshop ‘how to set up a land trust’ delivered by Martin Large from Biodynamic Land Trust based in Stroud who has many years experience of setting up community land trusts, and the workshop chiefly hosted by Rebecca Laughton, who did a presentation on the subject of her book “How to Thrive & Survive on the land", with contributions from Jyoti Fernandez from Fivepenny Farm and Charlotte Oliver from the Land Matters land-based community in Devon. The CAP workshop was delivered by Jack Thurston of farmsubsidy.org, in which Jack explained the Common Agricultural Policy payment system and outlined in broad terms the trend in dispersal of CAP money in the EU and UK as related to concentration of land ownership. He went on to discuss proposed ongoing EU reforms which were announced 2 days after the gathering in Brussels. A further workshop on “Housing Corporations & their landbanks” was actually spilt into two, and included a discussion on community self-build with a presentation by Helen Rawe from St Minver Community Land Trust in the village of Rock, on the Camel Estuary, North Cornwall, where 12 bungalows were built by the trust and sold to members of the local community at affordable prices. The workshop on Campaigning against Megafarms delivered by Tracey Worcester & Alistair from Pig Business focused upon the campaign against the 22,500-pig 'mega-farm' in Foston,  South Derbyshire, and the film ‘Pig Business’ was shown. An early evening screening was also put on of the film for those who didn’t go to the workshop.

On the Saturday later afternoon, everyone went for a country walk as part of a tour around Fivepenny Farm by Jyoti Fernandez, which was enjoyed by all. Saturday night entertainment provided by skiffle band The Dead Plants in the marquee was another highlight.

On the 2nd day, after the last set of workshops, all participants came together for a Public Debate facilitated by Maria Franchi, with speakers including Jack Thurston (who gave a 5-minute summing up of his workshop presentation) and Eleonor Firman from the Labour Land Campaign who gave a presentation on the merits of Land Value Tax (LVT) which was well received and provoked debate.  The debate was shortened to allow us time to split into groups and discuss the themes and priorities for action and actionable ideas coming out of them. A final closing session also facilitated by Maria (who did an excellent job) saw all the groups report back, with a resulting discussion on those actions which attracted the greatest support. Two main action outcomes were a yurt-building weekend sometime in the first half of 2012 and a land occupation campaign to expose unregistered land whilst the Land Registry undergoes possible privatisation. Check The Land is Ours email list regularly for updates.

Reclaim The Fields' website is: www.reclaimthefields.org

Full list of workshops as they happened at the TLIO 2011 Autumn Gathering below

In the summer of 2011, TLIO also organised a Land Convergence in St Werburghs, Bristol with BHAM & Reclaim the Fields, on Sunday 7th August. The event was organised as an add-on to the Reclaim the Fields South-West Summer Gathering which took place over that weekend, hosted at the late, great The Factory squatted Social Centre in St Pauls (now evicted). Report here



FULL LIST OF WORKSHOPS AS THEY HAPPENED AT THE 2011 AUTUMN GATHERING

FRIDAY 7th eve:

Reclaim the Fields discussions and feedback from Reclaim the Fields' European Gathering in Romania

SATURDAY 8th:

10 - 10.45  Introductionary Plenary                             

10.45 - 12.00   - 1st set of workshops (3 options):                                     

  • Localism Bill and Planning Reform
  • Anti-squatting laws
  • Defending Public Forests

12.15 - 13.30  - 2nd set of workshops (3 options):      

  • CAP: Who for & for what?
  • Setting up land trusts
  • Commemorating the Luddites

13.30 - 14.30  - LUNCH

14.30 - 15.45  -  3rd set of workshops (3 options):                   

  • Campaigning Against Megafarms
  • Housing Corporations & their landbanks
  • How to Survive & Thrive on the land

16.00 – 18.00   Farm Tour of Fivepenny Farm                    

Sat eve -  entertainment & films

SUNDAY 9th:

10 - 11.15  -  4th set of workshops (3 options):      

  • How to get planning permission in rural areas
  • Latest on GM
  • Reclaim The Fields

11.30 – 12.15:   Land Politics Debate

12.15 - 13.30:   Split up into groups

14.30 - 15.15:  Group Report Back and Action-planning

15.15 - 16.00:  Closing Plenary