Thank you 2023, hello 2024

2023 for me was a year of sampling, reading, reflection, learning, conversations and getting lost. A messy, liminal year where I realised that I was very tired after the three years before it and I needed to walk a lot, breathe very deeply and collapse a bit. I won’t be glad to see the back of 2023 because there was a lot that was good about it, but I am very happy to be out the other end of it in a better state than at the start of the year and with more clarity.

A Eureka moment for me this year was the realisation that the changes I wanted to drive, the solutions to so many of our biggest challenges, the ways to make the world better, are best viewed through the lens of food systems change. My experience, reading and research has led me more and more towards this conclusion and I’m keen to further sharpen my thinking next year, possibly through study and definitely through work and what I do at home.

Good things in 2023

These are personal and professional things because I’m not separating the two here:

  • Study tours, conferences and farm walks helped me feel like I was still connected to an amazing, diverse community of farmers, growers, nature restorers and other practitioners.
  • Conversations with some brilliant, generous people that helped refine my thinking, and some great courses
  • Being able to see more of my Mum this year, more than I have managed in a very long time, and being there to support her through lung cancer surgery (she’s doing well)
  • Bruce Springsteen live in Hyde Park
  • A gluttonous holiday in Italy
  • Voracious reading, and coming back to blogging
  • Exploring Dartmoor
  • Building a healthier relationship with social media, including binning Twitter/X
  • Some interesting work, learning from which has fed back into my thinking about what’s next
  • More space, more time.

The not-so-good things? Now is as good a time as any to let go of those.

What I’m looking forward to in 2024

Some interesting work looking at nature restoration and regeneration will hopefully evolve in 2024, meanwhile I’ll be on the lookout for new projects, particularly where they touch food systems, nature, health and communities.

I’ll be jealously guarding space and time for family, friends, volunteering and new projects at home.

At long last and with luck, we’ll be out of conveyancing limbo and into our new home. The place we’ve found feels like the right container to pour our passions into, and grow from, for the foreseeable future. There’s also a project to bring my mother to live close to us.

No resolutions, just intentions:

  • Bake more. Eat more beans and pulses. Eat less and better meat. Cut ultra-processed foods as far as practically possible.
  • Keep walking. Walk further.
  • Read more, write more. More movies, music, art, photography, craft, growing.
  • Less social media. More time with loved ones.
  • Resistance and strength training. Squats.

I’m also under no illusions: 2024 and onwards will be more difficult for all of us. Disruptive change will continue and there are no guarantees of happy outcomes. So 2024 is about care for self and others, building resilience, pragmatic optimism and having no expectations.