Welcome to our programme for Hay Festival 2023.
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Hay on Earth is a sustainability-focused series of events at Hay Festival. At the Hay on Earth Forum each year we explore current issues, new developments and technical advances.
At this year’s Forum we bring you four events focusing on the future of food. This full day ticket gives you entry to all four events:
Who picked your Fairtrade banana? Where do all the wonky carrots go? And if we’re being encouraged to eat five-a-day, just how much damage are we doing to the world we live in through food miles? We all know that as a nation our mental health is in crisis. But a crucial part of the solution – what we eat – is being ignored. Gray, author of Avocado Anxiety and Other Stories About Where Your Food Comes From, tracks food from farm to fruit bowl, unpacks the dilemmas we face in trying to eat well and ethically, and helps us discover the impact that growing fruits and vegetables has on the planet. Psychologist Wilson, author of Unprocessed: How the Food we eat is Fuelling our Mental Health Crisis, reveals the role of food and nutrients in brain development and mental health. They talk to Hay Festival’s Sustainability Director Andy Fryers.
Jake Fiennes is on a mission to heal the land we’ve destroyed, and change the face of the British countryside. The conservation manager at Holkham in Norfolk, one of the country’s largest historic country estates, has taken a radical approach to habitat restoration and agricultural work, which has brought back wetlands, hedgerows, birds and butterflies over 25,000 acres of land. He takes us through the farming year and the natural cycle of the seasons, and delivers a manifesto urging us to rethink our relationship with the natural world before it’s too late.
When the stakes are high, how low will Ayesha Scott go? The protagonist of Rothschild’s new novel has a perfect life, but behind every realised dream lurks an unexploded nightmare. In the course of one day Ayesha discovers that she will be penniless, homeless and powerless unless she can outwit the international mafia, infiltrate the world of high finance and make backstreet deals with the shadiest members of the art world. Writer, film-maker and philanthropist Hannah Rothschild speaks to journalist Rosie Boycott about High Time and how she captures humour on the page.
Anger, despair, disillusionment. The state of our politics is such these days that all those feelings regularly sweep over us. But political journalist Rafael Behr (Politics – A Survivor’s Guide: How to Stay Engaged Without Getting Enraged) and strategist and writer Alastair Campbell (The Rest is Politics podcast host; author of But What Can I Do? Why Politics Has Gone So Wrong, and How You Can Help Fix It) are here to demonstrate that you can stay engaged with politics without getting enraged. Using their expert knowledge, the pair take us through how we can play our part and make a real difference, develop our skills of advocacy and persuasion, and campaign for change. Even if we find ourselves frustrated with politics, Behr and Campbell show us there’s always something we can do.
The way we consumed food changed during the lockdown, and has continued to evolve as we face new challenges with our food supply. Is food globalisation still viable in an uncertain age of dramatic geopolitical realignment, climatic and environmental peril and colossal challenges to food production and distribution? We urgently need fresh, innovative and sustainable ideas to address such existential threats.
Louise Gray is author of Avocado Anxiety and Other Stories About Where Your Food Comes From; Ian Rasmussen is a senior lecturer at the University of Chester and a Slow Food Member; and Bryce Evans is Professor of Modern World History at Hope Liverpool University. They discuss the Welsh concept of Milltir Sgwar – square mile – which promotes belonging to and being immersed in a small community. Are we bold enough to revert to a more localised approach to food production: a square meal on a square mile?
Adventurer Grylls recounts some truly hair-raising escapades from his life, and shares the daily tips he’s learned to help you build your mental resilience. Grylls speaks about stories from his memoir Never Give Up, capturing the reality behind some of the hairiest survival missions he's undertaken, gives a rare insight into his family life, and shares with vulnerability his most death-defying and life-defining moments. He also imparts advice from his new book Mind Fuel, a constructive and authentic self-help manual that shares the principles that have helped him overcome fear, develop a positive mindset and break through the obstacles that limit success in everyday life.
British farming is in crisis: we import a greater proportion of our food than we used to, our countryside suffers more than ever from agriculture-related pollution and biodiversity loss, and farming is a major contributor to climate change. Does technology, from high-tech, precision, smart, vertical or underground farms to lab-grown alternatives to ‘natural’ food, have the answer? And if so, could tech bring down the curtain down on 5,000 years of British agriculture? Our panel of experts – Welsh hill farmer and TV presenter Gareth Wyn Jones, author and journalist Mark Lynas, sustainability expert and author of The Solutionists: How Businesses Can Fix the Future Solitaire Townsend, and environment journalist and photographer Martin Wright – discuss whether a rewilded Britain is a feasible vision, or the worst kind of ‘techtopian’ fantasy, and if there’s a happy medium for farmers and consumers.
North Yorkshire’s only contemporary New Orleans-inspired brass band lead an evening of music that packs a powerful punch of relentless drums, rumbling tuba and wailing horns. The band’s repertoire ranges from a full-on set of party covers to thrilling jazz and New Orleans sets. New York Brass Band annually plays at Glastonbury, Notting Hill Carnival and Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.