Now in its 6th year, the Rural Futures Conference is an established event and an essential gathering for those concerned with rural issues in Devon. We pride ourselves on themes that are topical and contributors who are lively and thought provoking.

This year the conference, once again, attracted engaging speakers and an enthusiastic audience drawn from those who drive our economy and inspire, lead, organise and administer our communities.

The theme this year was - In or out, the world is gathering pace and ‘change’ is ever-present.

At the conference, held at Westpoint Arena, we explored what this means for rural communities, our traditional industries and economy? What this means for how we live, what we do and who lives here? 

Overall comments about the day from delegates were positive:

“I've come away feeling invigorated
“A very thought provoking day

Our speakers and their topics:

Professor Christopher Balch, University of Plymouth, presented, Developing opportunities and discussed...

  • How can the rural south-west respond?
  • What are the significant opportunities?
  • What is required to seize these opportunities?

Prof Michael Woods, Aberystwyth University, presented his talk entitled Stop the world, I want to get off! How rural communities respond to globalisation and discussed...

  • Will ‘a sense of place’ survive?
  • How will communities change?

Huw Davies, Petroc College, presented his talk, No one left behind and discussed...

In a dash for growth or the retrenchment of a recession, it is people on the margins of the economy who lose out on life opportunities and, as we move into uncertain times, the challenge to demonstrate that we are a caring and inclusive society grows.


Philip Cork, Crediton Dairy, Planning for change

A case study about Crediton Dairy, a local business working in a traditional industry that has international dimensions and how it will respond to changing markets?


Dr Sally Basker, Exeter Science Park, presented her talk, Seed corn for a new world, which discussed whether new technology can offer a future for rural communities and the question, will 'work' inevitably focus on urban centres? 

Many thanks to our speakers and delegates

We look forward to seeing you again next year.

View photos that were taken from this event here

To be the first to be notified of the 2018 Rural Futures Conference and if you would like to be a speaker please email [email protected]