Future Countryside 2024 Conference

Flavian Obiero, a young Black Farmer of Tynefield Farm-

SEM’s Founder/CEO attended the Future Countryside 2024 conference at Syon House, London on June 4th.

The conference was about bringing ambition and energy to rural policy under an overall theme of “A Countryside for All”, hosted by the Duke of Northumberland with a keynote speech delivered by the Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Steve Reed MP. Other speakers include the Rt Hon Stephen Barclay, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Maxwell Ayamba & Steve Reed, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment
Maxwell Ayamba BEM and Steve Reed, Shadow Secretary for the Environment

Themed ‘A Countryside for All’, it was attended by hundreds of environmental professionals and farmers across the country with participants tasked to look ahead and think about what will be needed to make the countryside a better place for nature and for people from all backgrounds over the next decade.

Participants explored how we can navigate to a positive rural future for everyone – urban and rural alike. Nick Herbert, Co-Founder of Future Countryside said, “the conference provides an opportunity for the two political parties to share with delegates their environmental manifestos leading to the General Elections on July 4th.

Maxwell Ayamba & the Duke of Northumberland
Maxwell Ayamba BEM with Duke of Northumberland

Maxwell Ayamba said, what was great about the conference was the fact that Flavian Obiero, a young Black Farmer of Tynefield Farm was among other white farmers to speak to delegates about his experience as a Black Farmer in rural England.

Mr Obiero, originally from Kenya in East Africa started farming in the UK as an apprentice aged 19. Mr Obiero’s hard work impressed the owner of the Farm where he did his apprenticeship which led to being given a portion of land where he now rears pigs and other livestock. He is now considered one of the successful young Black farmers in the country who visits youth groups and schools speaking to minoritised young people to encourage them to pursue a career in farming.

In his presentation, Mr Obiero told delegates the need for the Farming industry to create more opportunities for interested young people from minoritised communities to pursue a career in farming. He sees himself as a good example of how with the right support interested Black young people can succeed in the farming sector.

Flavian Obiero, a young Black Farmer of Tynefield Farm
Flavian Obiero, a young Black Farmer of Tynefield Farm

Maxwell agrees with Mr Obiero’s plea, noting how the Farming Industry is the least diverse sector in the country. It was therefore very inspiring to see a young Black Farmer given the privilege to speak on the need for diversification of the Farming Industry at such an exclusive event attended entirely by a white audience”.

To find out more about the Future Countryside intitative visit the Future Countryside Website

You can also find information on the Countryside Alliance website.

What Nature Tells Us About Air Pollution

Workshop attendees with SEM CEO Maxwell Ayamba BEM, & Jenosn Grant. Photos Courtesy of Sam Wakeling @Living Streets.

The work of Sheffield Environmental Movement has been featured on the Living Streets website.

Living Streets, a UK wide environmental campaigning charity, have been working in partnership with us to ‘bridge the gap between people in the community with local decision makers’.

Living Streets 'Looking for Lichen' Workshop attendees with SEM CEO Maxwell Ayamba BEM, & Jenson Grant. Photos Courtesy of Sam Wakeling @Living Streets.
Living Streets ‘Looking for Lichen’ Workshop attendees with SEM CEO Maxwell Ayamba BEM, & Jenson Grant. Photos Courtesy of Sam Wakeling @Living Streets.

The Realities of Rural Racism

CEO and founder Maxwell A. Ayamba BEM

An interview with our CEO and founder Maxwell A. Ayamba BEM has been published in the most recent issue of Ramblers UK magazine.

In an article entitled ‘The realities of rural racism’, Maxwell outlines his expriences as a walker of colour while rambling through British rural spaces.

He states that;

“In the British rural landscape, minoritised individuals are often made to feel out of place, either overtly or subtly. I was the first Black person appointed to the Ramblers’ board in 2005 – a landmark in the organisation’s history.

BAMER walkers attending the Kinder Mass Trespass 90th aniversary walk in April 2022.

As a trustee, I attended several Ramblers area council meetings. I met good Ramblers who I am still friends with. I also came across some whose behaviour I’d describe as ‘racial gaslighting’, making me feel out of place. This experience isn’t limited to the Ramblers, but applies to environmental organisations more broadly, and on walks. Sometimes we’re the butt of a ‘joke’: ‘Oh, there are too many of you out here today!’ or ‘We can’t escape from them – they’re invading our space.’

Walking groups and individuals from all over the country joined togeather to walk. Hundreds of ramblers took part.

Other comments implicitly suggest we don’t belong in the countryside: ‘Are you walking for a charity event?’ or ‘Where do you come from?’ When we say ‘Sheffield’, they respond: ‘Yes, but I mean which country are you from?’ ”

Kinder In Colour Mass Trespass April 2022

You can read the rest on Maxwell’s feature interview in the Summer 2024 edition of Walk magazine which has been published on the Ramblers UK website.

Ramblers UK is charity dedicated to removing barriers so everyone can enjoy walking in green spaces, and to improving Britain’s most popular and least-known walking places.

Castle Market Archeology Tour

On Friday 10th May, the African & District Caribbean Community Association (SADACCA) women’s group got an opportunity to look back in time hundreds of years to when Sheffield had a Castle!

The historic Sheffield Castle now being excavated by archeololgists, had been buried for decades by the recently demolished Castle Market buildings.

The group tour the old Castle Site

The Site has had many uses over the centuries and archeologists from Wessex Archeology were on hand to explain the dig to the SADACCA women’s group.

The SADACCA Women’s group have had a bit of history with Wessex Archeology. In 2022 SEM was awarded a Government Green Recovery Challenge Fund (GRCF) grant. As part of this funding initiative, Wessex Archeology was invited by SEM to give a presentation of their work to the SADACCA Women’s group.

This event ignited the imaginations of the group and two years later the SADACCA women (17 of them in total) became the first community group to be taken on tour of the site led by Natasha and Ashley from Wessex Archeology.

On the old Castle Market site

Below are some of the comments from the women:

“When we were on top of the market we never knew what was underneath what it looked like until today so it’s a really great experience to see something like this.”

“It’s a bit emotional when you think we are actually walking where the castle used to be and all the interesting finds and history underneath us, it’s really fascinating I just hope and pray that we will still be around to see the new park”

SADACCA Womens Group

“look what down there while we were doing our shopping we didn’t know all these things were down there, interesting, very very interesting”

“I would like to come back again to see how far they have gone”

“As teenagers we used to meet on the gallery (overlooking the market) and just spend all afternoon there.

Ashley from Wessex Archeology & Maxwell from SEM

Ashley from Wessex Archeology said;

“we really needed to engage people that have shopped here … so it’s fantastic to have you along”

The site is being excavated by Wessex Archeology and Univeristy of Sheffield. The Castle site is the centrepiece of a city centre regeneration project led by Sheffield City Council.