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Our better nature

This week I am off to Cumbria for some autumnal fell-walking in the Western Lakes. This will take me back over 40 years to a happy year spent as a Personnel Manager (yes that’s what we were called!) in a GEC factory. I vividly remember the warmth of the local welcome and the defiance of the shop stewards. (Those two qualities memorably came together on  the night of the works bowling competition when the Convenor of the manual workers’ union invited me to go poaching in the river). While remembering Cumbria I have been reading English Pastoral’ by James Rebanks. Rebanks inherited a struggling family farm and describes early efforts to improve its productivity by lavishing pesticides and chemical fertilisers on it. ‘Small farmers were like the coalminers, yesterday’s people…President Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz had told audiences of farmers again and again to Get Big or Get Out’ In the end Rebanks did neither. He is finding a way to re-align agriculture with nature while rediscovering some of the wisdom of his forefathers. Read the rest here.


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