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English pastoral: An inheritance

In this book, farmer and writer James Rebanks describes how the landscape and community that his family farm is part of has changed over the past few decades as farming methods have become more intensive.

Publisher’s summary

The author of the beloved No.1 bestseller The Shepherd's Life returns with a stirring history of family, loss and the land over three generations on a Lake District farm.

James Rebanks was taught by his grandfather to work the land the old way. Their family farm in the Lake District hills was part of an ancient agricultural landscape: a patchwork of crops and meadows, of pastures grazed with livestock, and hedgerows teeming with wildlife. And yet, by the time James inherited the farm, that landscape had profoundly changed. The men and women had vanished from the fields; the old stone barns had crumbled; the skies had emptied of birds and their wind-blown song.

English Pastoral is the story of an inheritance: one that affects us all. It tells of how rural landscapes around the world were brought close to collapse, and how the age-old rhythms of work, weather, community and wild things were lost. But this elegy from the northern fells is also a song of hope: of how, guided by the past, one farmer began to salvage a tiny corner of England that was now his, doing his best to restore the life that had vanished and to leave a legacy for the future.

This is a book about what it means to have love and pride in a place, and how, against the odds, it may still be possible to build a new pastoral: not a utopia, but somewhere decent for us all.

 

Reference

Rebanks, J. (2020). English Pastoral: An Inheritance. Allen Lane, London.

Read more here. See also the article How to save British farming (and the countryside) by James Rebanks, and the Foodsource building block What is the land sparing-sharing continuum?

 
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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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