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21-22 SEP 24

The Miller Research Lab at #AFF2021

Please note: we are in the process of setting up ticketing for the FREE workshops described below. Tickets will be made available to book on the Abergavenny Food Festival website shortly.

On Saturday 18th September, as part of the Abergavenny Food Festival 2021,  Miller Research is taking over the upstairs of the Portico Lounge, to host the Miller Research Lab – a vibrant concoction of food, thought and collaboration, aimed at students and those early in their career.

We are running a series of four FREE ticketed events from 11:00 – 16:15, designed to bring together a diversity of people and ideas from across all areas of the food sector, unified by the goal of a food system which is sustainable, fair, and produces good quality, healthy food, with little impact on the environment. 

The 45 min events will include business owners, campaigners, caterers, chefs, politicians, academics, designers, farmers, land managers, and more, to share their knowledge and experience, pose challenging questions, and encourage discussion, innovation and creative problem solving (with the odd taster or two naturally). 

Few things create as emotional a response as food, or cause such staunch defence of dichotomous positions.  The reality of most food issues however, is complex and nuanced. In the Miller Research Lab we welcome debate and discussion, but for the sake of progress not point scoring, backed-up, where possible, by research and evidence. 


11:00 – 11:45

The most important thing is… #Actions4Change

Taking inspiration from the Food Foundation’s Actions4Change, this event is a chance for our panel of experts and youth leaders (and anyone in the audience) to make their case for what they think is the most important issue or action required to improve our food system, both globally and locally?  Is a fair and just food system more important than a sustainable one? Is biodiversity loss a bigger problem than poor health and nutrition? Will we all agree on what ‘the most important thing is..’? Probably not, but then that is half the fun. 

Confirmed speakers so far

12:30 – 13:15

Changing food habits – the carrot and the celery stick!

Every shopping basket has a story to tell, but what is it that really determines the food we end up choosing to buy, how we buy it, and where we buy it from? We must understand this, and the multiple factors along the way – from seed to shopping basket, farm to fork – to understand how to best influence buying habits positively.  Our expert panel will each give us their take, including better policy, marketing and education, but we want to collect your ideas too. How can we use both the carrot and the (celery) stick to improve personal food habits in the UK? 

Confirmed speakers so far: 

14:00 – 14:45

Food skills for the future 

Are you interested in a career in food and being part of a food system which is, sustainable, just, healthy and delicious? Well, then this session is for you.  Our expert panel will look at the most important skills needed for people starting out on their career in food, as well as what skills and approaches are most needed in the sector now and in the future, in order to tackle challenges we face and make the most of collaboration, creativity and innovation in a rapidly changing industry. 

Confirmed speakers so far: 

15:30 – 16:15

The bigger picture – joining all the dots

Throughout the day, within the Miller Research Lab,  we will have explored all corners of the food system, discussing separate issues, priorities and opportunities, but how does it all fit together, how do we join the dots? Between us, with the help of our expert panel, we will take a step back,  look at the bigger picture and discuss what a harmonious, holistic food system might look like, what is needed to make it happen, and what we can all do now to help. We will then invite you to explore the rest of the festival, to carry on conversations, meet more producers, chefs and campaigners. 

Confirmed speakers so far: 

Guest Speakers to Include: 

The Food Foundation, Sustainable Food Trust, Hotel School the Hague, Land workers Alliance youth group, Local council, local youth climate strikes group, Wales transition Lab & more!

Youth Panel – we want to hear from you! 

Are you aged between 16 – 25? Do you have an interest in one or more of the following?

  • A career in catering/hospitality
  • Food growing & production
  • Food policy and the politics of food
  • Sustainability, environmentalism, climate action

If so, our youth panel is for you! We want to hear from the next generation with the potential to shape the future of local food. Register here for access to the full day of discussions, as a youth panel member you will receive:

  • A stroller pass for the day 
  • A chance to network with professionals 
  • Become part of an exclusive follow-up mailing list for news & opportunities 
  • Free lunch provided by AFF, from Cyrus Todiwala at the Castle 
  • Experience to reference for your CVs & personal statements! 

What we need from you:

Our youth panel will have a limited number of places, to make sure that we can fully involve all panellists on the day. To be selected for the panel we need you to:

  • Be comfortable contributing to discussions on the day (we will help you to prepare with this beforehand, don’t worry!) 
  • Send us a short email pitching your interest. In the email, please tell us why these issues matter to you, and how the experience might help you with future activities & career choices.

About Miller Research

Miller Research is an environmental and socially conscientious research consultancy based just outside Abergavenny, but with clients across Wales and the UK.  We conduct a range of research, evaluation and consultancy work in the food and drink sector, as well as rural development, sustainability, regeneration, and health and social care sectors (find out more here). 

We are increasingly seeing the links between projects and sectors we work in, the shared challenges and opportunities they present, and the value in taking an holistic approach to tackle these issues collaboratively.

It is for this reason that we are delighted to host the Miller Research Lab at the Abergavenny Food Festival, to explore these ideas with young people interested in positively shaping the way we produce, distribute, and consume food.