Heritage Harvest – using traditional skills to grow traditional cereal crops – #NCW13

A couple of weeks ago I met John Letts who runs Heritage Harvest in the Buckinghamshire Oxfordshire area. John and his small team help farmers grow heritage cereals for thatching straw and grain and distributes bread and flour through the Oxford Bread Group. The Prince’s Countryside Fund have helped John by giving him a grant to develop his business further. The Fund’s grant has helped to establish a demonstration farm and education centre of heritage wheat varieties in collaboration with a group of 100 thatchers, organic farmers and traditional millers. Their aim is to reduce the UK’s dependence on imported thatching materials while encouraging the development of this traditional skill and providing a valuable diversification opportunity for farmers. 10 school visits have taken place and 2 summer placements for agricultural students completed. The flour is now being used in 4 lines of Astons organic bakery and is available through the Tru Food Group with 350 members.

On a personal note John made me understand the problems we could potentially be facing as a result of global warming and how farmers need to diversify and change their farming methods in our ever changing climate. I was also introduced to some of the earliest forms of wheat including Einkorn which is one of the earliest forms of cultivated wheat dating back to 7500BC. John was very kind and loaded my car with eggs, 4 bags of flour, a sourdough starter and some fresh fruit picked from his allotment. Mrs Lord has since made some delicious sourdough bread using Einkorn and Rye flour.

Keep a look out for Heritage Harvest’s website, John is an excellent supplier of flour to anyone who enjoys baking real bread!

To find out more about the Princes Countryside Fund and how you could help please click here.

In the pictures below John is weeding the borders of the fields with a scythe, he does use motor driven vehicles for sowing and harvesting but enjoys using traditional tools where he can. I was given the opportunity to have a go with the scythe and lets just say I will stick to using a camera!




#MerryChristmas to you all

Community Pub Project for Princes Countryside Fund

For all those followers out there, apologies for the lack of posts but I’ve been too busy to blog recently. I decided to get as much photography done in October and early November whilst there was some good colour on the trees and the weather was reasonable. Wow, what a great decision to have made with this terrible weather we are having at the moment. I have now shot all of my Princes Countryside Fund projects for this year and just need to work on the images which I hope to complete within a couple of weeks.

Here are some of my pictures from the White Horse Community Pub in rural Norfolk. The pub closed a few years ago and the residents of the village feared it would be bought by developers and made into housing. With help from The Princes Countryside Fund along with other funding the residents managed to save the pub for the benefit of the community. To find out more about the project please click here.

The pub is open and trading but there are a lot of exciting new developments happening as and when funding allow to include a local shop, micro-brewery and learning facilities.

Here are some of my favorite images of the buildings in need of development along with some of the pub, the people of the village enjoying a drink and stake holders receiving their share certificates. There are also a few ghosts and ghouls lurking as I visited during Halloween so be prepared!



The Farming Life Centre, Blackwell – photographed for the Prince’s Countryside Fund

Earlier this week I was up early and heading up north to Bakewell, not for a tart but to meet a gentleman who works for The Farming Life Centre to photograph him and the work he does for the Prince’s Countryside Fund. We arranged to meet at Bakewell cattle market to take some photographs there before moving on to a nearby farm. Jonathan met me and after a brew and a chat in the canteen I set to work taking some pictures around the cattle market. Jonathan’s role is to help farmers in need of assistance in the local area, this can be anything from computer problems to livestock management.

Jonathan is the gent in the middle at the top of this compilation of images.

On an interesting note, the farmer holding his arm out above is holding a one pound coin. This is called luck money and he is the seller of the sheep currently being auctioned and  will give this money to the winning bidder of his sheep once the hammer goes down. So, anyone who wins 20 lots of sheep at auction will also walk away with £20 for a few well deserved pints down the local that night!

After the auction we headed up to a nearby farm who Jonathan works with.  After meeting the lady from the farm I got taken around meeting some of the animals and workers, one who was fixing an old tractor (worker not animal!) A perfect photo opportunity, I thought, so we wheeled the tractor forward a bit to get some light on it and I did some nice portraits of the chaps with the tractor. Here are some of my favourite images from the shoot on the farm.

Finally we arrived  at The Farming Life Centre for a well deserved cuppa and a massive cookie in the 1950’s style kitchen with manager Julia Cook. The reason for the 1950’s style kitchen is the centre holds social groups for retired farmers in the area and having old objects around helps them to reminisce about the good old days. After a few pictures around the courtyard of the staff and I  headed back home. Well, nearly, I just had to pop over the yard and have a chat with the resident Blacksmith for a few pictures….. (to follow soon)

To find out more about this brilliant organisation please visit The Farming Life Centre by clicking here.

‘Did I have a Bakewell Tart’ you ask? Drive 300 miles and not try a Bakewell? What do you think? 🙂