It will be several weeks before our combine ventures out of the barn but having said that the winter wheat is turning colour rather rapidly but with heavy rain now forecast it is difficult to predict what will happen when.
Fortunately the ears are now fully grown and developed, so the hot sun which is hastening the ripening shouldn’t be causing too much damage. I am however concerned for the welfare of our spring crops which are still growing and developing. They are now desperately in need of rain or they will die off before the grain has fully formed. This impacts greatly upon the yield, so the ‘right kind of rain’ would be most welcome.
The Lupins are doing reasonably well, or so I am told. Having not grown them before I am having to rely upon the ‘expert’s’ who are trying to reassure me that we are doing a fair job with them. My lack of past experience on growing the crop makes it a bit of an adventure.
The BBC presenter Kate Humble who runs animal husbandry courses at her South Wales smallholding, recently spoke at the Telegraph Ways With Words festival. She is keen to encourage city dwellers, or as she colourfully called them “hapless city folk”, to venture out into the countryside. Kate is concerned that unless the public learn to ‘reconnect’ with the land and their food, we will “end up eating Romanian horse for the rest of our lives”!
She is an ardent supporter of British farmers and told her audience how important it is to keep our farmland working and support farmers. It is indeed important for the public to ‘connect’ with the countryside, and I believe this is happening increasingly as they are drawn onto farms with the development of on farm diversification which attracts all manner of businesses to these rural locations.
Redundant farm building which are no longer suitable for modern day farming methods and machinery, are being converted with great taste and sensitivity, and are now accommodating a variety of businesses.
Many offer office space or workshops for companies eager to escape out of the towns to locations where there is ample free parking, a rural environment and many with amazing views.
There are farm shops and tea rooms, craft shops and furniture restoring workshops and retail, all of which attract the public out into the countryside and onto farms.
At Randolphs Farm, just five miles north of Brighton, an enterprising GP Dr Cathy Brown has opened a private medical clinic ‘Complete Health’. Here Dr Brown will take time to explore your physical and psychological well-being.
She and her team will provide advice on diagnosis and treatment, prevention of diseases through health screening and lifestyle advice. Also complimentary treatments including Aromatherapy, Acupuncture, Homeopathy and Physiotherapy and immunisation and travel clinics. A comprehensive medical MOT check up in beautiful surroundings.
In August a fitness studio will be opening in the adjacent building, so if you want to keep fit and receive advice as to how to keep healthy in this relaxed rural setting, visit Randolphs a traditional Sussex family farm in the heart of the glorious Sussex countryside. Here you will also see cattle grazing and crops growing, as well as the opportunity to spot deer, foxes, rabbits, wild geese, duck, pheasants, and the occasional local yokel just to add a little colour and authenticity!
Bring the children along too and they can visit Washbrooks Family Farm which is next door where they can meet their favourite farm animals and play in the large indoor and outdoor play area.
Kate Humble is right, we do need to lure the public onto our farms so they feel comfortable and at home in the environment where the food we all eat daily is grown and produced.
There are now so many opportunities and good reasons to venture off the highways onto farms where there are businesses of all types. These in their own way are helping farming businesses to thrive and survive during the leaner years and as the nature of farming is changing and evolving. By occupying many beautiful old farm buildings this helps to prevent them from falling into disrepair.
Buy local and buy British but venture out into the countryside where a variety of surprises and little jewels of enterprises can be found.
Carola Godman Irvine