Welcome to another episode of Farmerama with more voices from the smaller-scale farming communities in the UK and beyond.
This month we hear from two projects which are using film to share stories from the front-line of farming. First up is filmmaker Sabine Hellmann who shares about her Participatory Video work with small-scale farmers in Malawi, a practice she developed working with Insight Share. Also featured is the recently released ‘In Our Hands’ film from the Land Workers’ Alliance and Blackbark Films. They say, “At the heart of all change lies a story, and ‘In Our Hands’ is the story of a new kind of farm, a new kind of food and a new kind of society”.
We hear a brief excerpt from one of the farmers featured in the film, dairy farmer Josh Healey (pictured above) at North Aston Dairy. He has just 18 cows and runs a successful milk business employing 2.5 people. The film is free to screen and they encourage everyone to setup screenings in towns and cities around the UK to spread the word.
Thanks to the GROW Observatory team in Dundee, we meet sociologist Maria Partalidou, who’s been studying the relationship between urban and rural communities in Greece.
And we indulge in more fungi-love with soil expert Joel Williams as we learn how it’s possible to manage weeds simply by working with the microbial balance in the soil.
This month’s episode was produced by Jo Barratt, Katie Revell and Abby Rose. Special thanks to Pavlos Georgiadis and the Grow Observatory team for the interview from Greece, and thanks to Hannah Steenbergen for her interview with Humphrey.
If you have something you’d like to share, please get in touch. We’re firstname.lastname@example.org and you can find us easily on twitter, instagram and facebook.
Welcome back to Farmerama! This month we hear more from Dr Christine Jones, this time talking about why we plant cover crops and the wonderful world of fungi below our feet. If you missed her last month talking about carbon cycles and healthy plants/soils, then check out that episode here.
Young farmer Harry Boglione runs a truly mixed farm nestled amongst the Dorset hills. We visited earlier this summer and were amazed at the many different things he has going on at Haye Farm. He told us about his experiments to build the perfect mobile chicken hut and how the bird-flu threats earlier this year took his thinking in a whole new direction.
Patrick Mallery is a fungi fiend. He runs Upcycled Mushrooms and is all about using fungi to convert waste materials into something delicious and nutritious. We heard his tips on growing mushrooms outdoors and particularly how they can be a great companion crop to fruit trees.
We caught up with biologist Ann Bikle to hear how soil microbial underworlds are linked to human health and the microbiome. Anne and her husband David Montgomery are a geologist and biologist duo that have written a series of books about soil, microbial life and how this all relates to agriculture. We also spoke to David about good soil health and their most recent book – Growing a Revolution – and this ‘Short’ is up on our Soundcloud page.
Finally we headed back to Dorset at Bride Valley Vineyards, where vineyard manager Graham Fisher told us about his thoughts on growing grapes in a changing climate.
This show was made by Abby Rose, Katie Revell and Jo Barratt, with an additional interview from Abi Glencross.
Thanks again to our supporters E5 Bakehouse. If you’re ever in London, go try some of their bread – you can even see the grains being milled on site!
We’d also like to thank Annie Landless for the help she’s been giving us managing our social media. We are @Farmerama__ on Twitter and Instagram and you can easily find us on Facebook at Farmerama Radio.
Welcome to our two year anniversary edition (YAY!) of Farmerama supported by the brilliant E5 Bakehouse, an East London bakery pushing the boundaries of baking: exploring and innovating from grain to oven to make the best bread. They work closely with farmers and have even started growing grains themselves, which they then mill on site.
At Farmerama we’re here to bring you stories from farmers and growers around the UK, we want to get stuck into uncovering the nitty gritty of producing – things like soil experiments, choosing different seed varieties, and exploring sustainable or resilient food systems.
This month Soil health and tree expert Niels Corfield shares the 6 Soil Health Principles that can help anyone working on the land, at any scale, to make soil-friendly management decisions.
New contributor Marianne Landzettel sends dispatches from the Netherlands, where a biodynamic Dutch grower and breeder is working to establish blight-resistant potatoes that are yummy and also drought-resistant.
Dung sausages are up next, as we hear from Dr Sarah Beynon, a researcher and farmer at Dr Beynon’s Bug farm in Wales. She tells us about a rather intriguing creature, the Dung Beetle that is working hard beneath our feet.
Finally, Cheese-man and Daphne Zepos Award winner, Sam Frank, takes us on his journey across Europe, as he visits farmers and cheesemakers who work with native dairy breeds. Sam shares some of the highs and lows of the state of the industry.
This show was created by Jo Barratt, Abby Rose and Katie Revell. Thanks so much to Marianne for the additional reporting and to our supporters E5 Bakehouse.
As Spring draws nearer we bring you Joel Salatin talking traditional methods and modern tools. Joel calls this new-fashioned farming, where systems such as cow-feed lots and high chemical input systems are now old-fashioned. We also have an example of new-fashioned farming in action from Angus, Scotland where Pasture For Life farmers, Andrew Brewster and his brother have cattle on 900 acres. He tells us about the low-tech tools and setup they put together to get their rotational grazing off the ground.
We begin to unpick the world of rewilding with Steve Carver of the Wild Land Research Institute. This is something that has caused much debate and upset amongst farmers, conservationists and wildlife fans alike. Steve explains that it’s not anti-farming at all and emphasises that we all need to work together to create connected habitats up and down the country.
Next up are despatches from the Soil Association Future Growers apprenticeship, a very popular way for new farmers to learn about growing veg. We hear from current students, alumnae Laura Newman and organiser Rachel Harries to get different perspectives. Finally we hear from Cambodian farmers and teachers about their experience of learning to grow organically thanks to the Green Shoots Foundation.
So many thanks to our contributors this month, Muneezay Jaffery and Joy Rose. Farmerama was produced by Jo Barratt and Abby Rose.
Invitation to an event:
Wednesday 4th Jan 16:15 – 17:45 we are co-hosting a small informal meeting for young farmers during the ORFC and OFC at St Aldates Tavern, 108 St Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1BU
We are gathering a small group of young farmers, from a mix of backgrounds, to come along and share their stories, the challenges they face and their hopes for the future.
We recognise there are two events happening at the same time in the same town and we think it’s important that as the next generation of farmers we start to build bridges across that divide – and begin a conversation, share our stories, share a common understanding which we can build learning and friendships from. Farming in the UK is not easy for anyone and this is a time to start learning with each other.
Please do come along if this interests you, we welcome anyone including those not young in years but young at heart!
This will begin a series of events, blogs and other things to try and bring together farmers from all walks of life and to communicate the views of young farmers.
Farmerama have learnt that farming’s best economic models mimic nature’s clever ways and make many things from the same piece of land.
Farmer Stephen Briggs tells us about one of these clever models. He fills us in on his agroforestry setup or ‘3D farming’, where he grows organic apples and cereals on his 150 acres in Cambridgeshire. We also hear a few thoughts from Ben Raskin, head of horticulture at the Soil Association, who is just starting a new agroforestry project in Wiltshire at Helen Browning’s Organic Farm.
Our co-host Abby shares a tool she initially created for her family’s farm to help them build a more resilient business using ‘small data’. Now other farmers are using it in the UK and Chile, in particular we hear from Davenport Vineyards about how they have used it to help their vineyard prosper.
We finish with a bit of a food sovereignty focus – two reports from different ends of Britain both building people’s food policies: in Scotland we hear about the ‘Good Food Nation Bill’ and Dee Butterly, talks us through ‘The People’s Food Policy’ supported by The Landworker’s Alliance. In our divided world we wonder if food and farming could be a web that will connect us all.
Farmerama is produced by Jo and Abby and presented with Nigel. Reporting this week was from Nigel, Abby, Katie and Phil. This week we have additional sound design by Eight Fold Way, music by Michael and we have much appreciated social media support from Madeline and Richard.