Our Marketing Coordinator, Fiona Mountain, who is involved with organising the first FarmED Literature Festival this summer, reviews James Rebanks new book, English Pastoral.
So much of what James writes about in this book echoes the work of promoting regenerative agriculture and sustainable food systems that is at the heart of FarmED’s mission.
In this beautiful and book, he writes about how his grandfather taught him to work the family farm in the Lake District hills in the old way, and how he was inspired by a neighbouring farmer, ‘the most traditional farmer in the district’ who ‘had the healthiest soil.’ James writes about the dangers in becoming ‘strangers to the fields that feed us,’ about how half our hedgerows have disappeared since the second world war.
As a storyteller, I’ve always been fascinated by history and what we can learn from our ancestors, and this book takes us on a journey, starting from a time when James’s family farm was part of an ancient agricultural landscape, teeming with wildlife, to now, and the urgent need to restore and regenerate our fields in order to fulfil our duties to future generations. In a wonderfully elegiac tone, reflecting James’s belief that ‘our land is like a poem,’ he explores ways to provide for his family and at the same time farm sustainably, to build a new pastoral and offer hope for us all.
English Pastoral: An Inheritance, deserves its title of Sunday Times Nature Book of the Year. It was also voted a book of the year by the Telegraph, Financial Times, New Statesman, Independent, Telegraph, Observer and Daily Mail.
The Global Oxford Real Farming Conference is running until next week and you can obtain English Pastoral from their excellent bookshop, with a discount! https://orfc.org.uk