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The future is in our hands (and mouths)

Valley Fest’s Melissa Kidd explains how a festival environment can prompt long-term behavioural change
The Valley Fest site, on a working organic farm

This article first appeared in our World Environment Day issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published on 02 June 2022. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

For thousands of years, festivals have acted as cultural glue, binding us together over music, arts, food and drink in safe spaces where we can flamboyantly celebrate life.

Today’s festivals are no different – yet they are playing an increasingly important role as a force for good.

Against a backdrop of doom and gloom, rising prices, wars and species extinction, festival season is around the corner. For some, festivals represent an escape – a release from daily life and a chance to kick back, eat glorious food and dance ’til dawn.

But beyond that, festivals can also be a vehicle for behaviour change. The thought-provoking talks, panel discussions and debates can feed minds, stretch perspectives and change habits.

Celebrate & regenerate

Valley Fest, now in its eighth year, is held on an organic, regenerative farm. It celebrates organic food, regenerative farming and the natural world with music and art.

Held alongside Chew Valley Lake, this year’s family-friendly event will take place 04-07 August. It’s the first music and food festival to put regenerative agriculture on the bill.

The festival has always showcased local and organic food, but this year there is a new ‘Regen Area’, sponsored by Yeo Valley Organic. Here inspiring speakers will explain how we can heal a broken system and empower farmers and people to eat their way to a better future. It is for those hungry for hope.

‘We are all environmental activists, three times a day: every mouthful we take shapes the world. We either eat for a future, or we eat the future.’

Environmental entrepreneur

Farming for our lives

Regenerative farming is about repairing the damage caused by historic farming methods. It’s governed by five principles: don’t disturb the soil; keep the soil surface covered; keep living roots in the soil; grow a diverse range of crops and bring grazing animals back to the land.

‘It’s farming as if our lives depended on it, which they do!’, says Yeo Valley Organic’s Tim Mead. ‘A great deal of behavioural psychology and campaign experience suggest that people respond better to positive messages than climate change doom. And we want to show what a hugely important resource our soil is in reversing the effects of climate change.’

Join a new conversation

Among the costumes, music and general upbeat vibe, are people more open-minded and open-hearted at a festival? Are they more receptive to positive ideas than they would be on a rainy Monday afternoon in the middle of winter? Possibly.

Research by Shambala Festival has shown that long-term behavioural change can be prompted by what happens at a festival.

Festivals aren’t just about hedonism: the environment invites us into a different conversation which can make a difference long after people have gone home.

Valley Fest tickets cost £170 (plus booking fee), which can be paid in instalments. Click here to book.

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