About money... I feel increasingly that as long as farming is expected to make money, it will be in trouble. The purpose of farming is to produce food. We all eat, but most of us are totally cut off from the sources of our food. We just buy it. Buying food rather than producing it is a symptom of civilisation.
People who do produce food inevitably produce more than they need, so the surplus is stored, exchanged or sold. This is different from farming in order to make a profit.
I have been wondering how more people in our society could have the opportunity to grow vegetables or tend animals.
WOODCYMRU, IVY HOUSE, DEEP CUTTING, WELSHPOOL, POWYS.
Maureen Preen sells peg looms, weaving sticks and associated ways of using wool. She also teaches spinning, both in her home and demonstrating in schools and at fairs.
Maureen taught me to spin and it's not her fault that I'm not
producing fine yarn. I was useless at spinning but I got what I wanted
from Maureen, which is a love of wool and the ability to use the
unusable parts of a fleece to make something that really looks like the
sheep. I got a lot more than that from Maureen who isn't interested in
money, charging the absolute minimum for her products and taking a great
delight in passing on her skills. It is a whole different system of
economics, which suits farming in a way that capitalism does not.
Maureen's lack of interest in profit means she has a whole different
perspective on life, which works very well but is completely at odds
with the current ethic of growth.
CWMCHWEVRU FARM, LLANAVON FAWR, BUILTH WELLS. POWYS
Run by Lesley Wickham, whom I last saw when Foot and Mouth was closing in on every side. Lesley's animals managed to survive, thank goodness. Since then, they have flourished. She has Dexter cattle, her own breed of sheep (bred for quality wool for hand spinners), Saddleback pigs, Boer goats, (who eat the rushes and bracken), Welsh cobs, and free range chickens.
Lesley is definitely committed to farming for profit, although profit
is not her reason for doing it. She believes that you can run a
commercial farm and still treat your animals as individuals. All her
animals come up to greet her. They also produce an income. She doesn't
use chemicals and treats her animals homeopathically if they are
Her meat is sold to private customers. She goes to Farmers' Markets
where she sells her own wool, spun at local mills (Lampeter and Builth
Wells), woven into rugs and throws, knitted (both by hand and machine by
Lesley) and locally cured sheep skins. She also makes time to make pots,
which go on the same stall. As if all this wasn't enough, Lesley also
runs small-holding courses, so anyone can learn her skills and, if they
have the energy and dedication, be as successful as she is.
Both Lesley and Maureen, though they have opposite attitudes to
money, are instinctively committed to contributing to a larger plan in
which every person and animal has a vital part.
PENGRAEGOCH FARM, LLANGADOG, LLANDOVERY.
Ruth Watkins also starts with the aim of making the world a better place.
She farms sheep and cattle on the Brecon Beacons .She is a virologist, recently retired to nurture a bit of landscape back to health. This includes farming. The health of the land and of her animals is her first priority. Her soil is naturally poor and she is having trouble reconciling organic principles with her scientific knowledge.
Ruth intends to have school visits. Her farm is rich in natural teaching material, including river and wetland, woodland and hillside, as well as her hefted Brecknock Cheviot sheep, Welsh cattle and English long-horns.
PEN-ISAR-LLAN FARM SHOP, LLANIBLODWEL, OSWESTRY.
Mair Williams showed me the roots they grow, which are impressively diverse and healthy. They have five acres of mixed vegetables and five acres of potatoes. They also sell eggs from their own free range hens, milk from
NEW BARNS FARM, TREFONEN, OSWESTRY,
Yoghurt from THE VILLAGE DAIRY, LLANNEFYDD, DENBIGH,
Local meat, preserves, cheese.
They sell at Welshpool and Oswestry Farmers' Markets.
MILL LANE FARM, KIRTLINGTON, OXON
Jane Fanner-Hoskin runs a flourishing small-holding, with 2 Jersey cows and their calves, her own vegetables, free-range hens, and 2 Dartmoor ponies who do weddings. She makes an excellent farmhouse cheese as well as butter, ice-cream, cakes and bread, jams and pickles, wine and cordials. She sells produce to passing boaters on the S. Oxford canal and is planning to open the MILL LANE TEA ROOMS and offer free-range breakfasts. She is considering feeding people and asking them to contribute what they think the meal is worth.
(She has no money at all. This is a new economic theory, not hobby farming.)
Jane has had a brilliant idea: The Village Farm
The idea is that people living in the same village (eg Kirtlington, which has become a commuter village) would keep a few animals and work an allotment jointly. This would mean tasks and produce could be shared. Villagers would produce their own milk, butter, cheese, eggs, vegetables, meat. They would have contact with the animals at all stages of their lives. They would buy shares in the farm, which they could sell if they left the village.
I can hear, and invent, the objections, based on a realistic assessment of human nature, but starting my city farm seemed much more outrageous at the time. The time just happened to be right.
FOXBURY FARM SHOP, BURFORD, OXON.
Own butchery selling own lamb, beef, pork. Also bacon and sausages.
ANDERSEY FARM FREE RANGE EGGS, LOCKINGE
BENSON'S APPLE JUICE, SHERBORNE, GLOS. (Excellent)
Own fresh and frozen sweet and meat pies.
Milk from HYDE FARM DAIRY, CHELTENHAM, GLOS.
Jersey cream and clotted cream from UPPER NORTON FARM, CHURCH HANBOROUGH, OXON. Also "OXFORDSHIRE BUTTER"
Frozen fruit and veg.
Wholemeal flour from MATTHEWS MILL, SHIPTON UNDER WYCHWOOD.
BENNETT'S ICE CREAM (Worcester)
FREEMANS FREE RANGE CHICKENS.
Potato crisps from JONATHAN CRISP, EYNSHAM, OXON.
The Marches, more than most areas, retain a traditional outlook on food. There are supermarkets and fast food outlets, but they have not swamped the local butchers, greengrocers, bakers, pork pies and cheeses. The creative mixture of Welsh and English is peculiarly resistant to takeover. It's as though the Welsh and English have spent so long fighting each other that, when there is a common enemy, they can instantly pool their experience and make the most of their strengths. They have much to offer.
BERGHILL FARM, WHITTINGTON, OSWESTRY, SHROPSHIRE
Jamie Ward has free range pigs and a cutting room. He is planning to expand this to become a small slaughter house, killing pigs and lambs. Planning permission is through and the idea is to open in about 3 months, though Jamie is philosophical about delays.
He also organises Oswestry Farmers' market and sells his own pork and pork products there and at Welshpool. He sells to local butchers and has private customers too. He has recently started doing hog roasts.
NEW BARNS FARM, TREFONEN, OSWESTRY have about 80 Friesian cows, do all their own dairy work and sell their milk to local shops.
KNOLTON FARMHOUSE CHEESE, OVERTON ON DEE, WREXHAM. CLWYD dates back to the eighteenth century, when Cheshire cheese reached London on the Shropshire Union Canal. Transport has speeded up, but the method of cheesemaking is essentially the same. Milk is collected from local farms.
H. S. BOURNE CHESHIRE CHEESE. THE BANK, MALPAS, CHESHIRE. www.hsbourne.co.uk Hand made Cheshire cheese from their own milk.
LLAETH Y LLAN, LLANEFYDD, DENBIGH. www.villagedairy.com Luxury yoghurt, many made with liqueurs.
MAYNARDS FARM, WESTON UNDER REDCASTLE www.maynardsfarm.co.uk "The Rolls Royce of dry cured bacon"
MONKTON FARM SHOP, OKLE PYCHARD, HEREFORD.
Aiming at the Garden Centre image, but still rich in local producers including:
Free range hen and duck eggs from F.R. WYNNE, HOPE UNDER DINMORE
Own delicious apple juice
Yoghurt from THE DAIRY HOUSE, WEOBLEY, HEREFORDSHIRE
LIGHTWOOD CHEESE and butter (Worcestershire)
MONKLAND CHEESE, PLECK FARM, MONKLAND, LEOMINSTER.
Milk from BARTONSHAM FARM, HEREFORD
LUDLOW, that great haven local food, still teems with proper shops selling real food, including (among the old)
MARCHES QUALITY MEAT, www.marchesmeat.co.uk
CARTERS (Pork Pie of the Marches)
D.W. WALL (The Ludlow Sausage)
REG MARTIN (Game)
And among the new:
THE MOUSETRAP, selling every sort of Welsh and English cheese, including their own: MONKLAND.
THE DELI IN THE SQUARE with local specialities.
THE PLECK, MONKLAND, LEOMINSTER, HEREFORDSHIRE
Shop and café where you can see Little Herefordshire cheese being made. Karen and Mark Hindle buy their milk from local farmers, make all their cheese on the premises and sell it in their own shops in Leominster, Hereford and Ludlow. You can also have a Little Hereford Ploughman's on the spot.
THE DAIRY HOUSE, WEOBLEY, HEREFORDSHIRE.
Pru Lloyd makes yoghurt, crème fraiche, mature cheddar, and sumptuous cheesecakes from local milk. She has four sources for the milk, one organic, and you can go and see the cows. Jersey cream is about to be added to her products
TYRELLS HALL, STRETFORD, HEREFORDSHIRE. www.tyrrellspotatochips.co.uk
Since I started this diary, I have been finding Tyrrell's crisps in farm shops all over the country. At last I am in their home country and I find I know it well. Their machinery is all over the fields of Stretford,
where they have been growing potatoes for 20 years. Now they deep fry, pack and market them as well. They are starting to crisp other vegetables too. They deserve their success.
My thanks to Lou Kellett for her efficient virtual tour of the Oswestry area. I am only sorry I did not have enough time in the Marches. I'll be back in May, if not before.
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