Saturday, 30 June 2007

Connection with rural areas

A report by BBC News yesterday said that by 2008 more than half of the world's population will live in cities, most of them in developing countries. This presents a huge challenge for rural communities everywhere as we lose people, key skills and also the immediate link with our customers. In the UK, if you live in a rural area you see how your food is produced every day, the tractors going up and down the roads, the seasons coming and going and this affects your food choices. In rural areas there is also more space to grow your own food. All this is lost as more of the population moves to cities and there is a much greater need for food supply systems to work effectively as there is very little immediate alternative.

The UN report, entitled The State of World Population 2007: Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth, states that every week the number of people living in cities in Africa and Asia increases by approximately one million. This trend is predicted across the world and the rural community will have to continue to try and raise awareness of its value to the whole population by producing food, fuel and amenity, especially as more and more people lose direct contact.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Oil Seed Rape

Well, this part of Herefordshire has seen some terrible storms this last week or so. The village school had to be closed for a day because the roads were impassable. The storms have also made our oil seed rape go flat, it looks like some UFO has bounced across the top of the fields laying it flat in clumps. Time will tell, how it will affect the yield, but when I look back over the picture diary in this blog it is sad to see it as it looks now.

Still when I see the news items about Worcester only fifteen miles away I think we got off lightly!

Saturday, 23 June 2007

English Cherries

Feels like all my posts will be about food this morning, but keep an eye out for British Cherries in the shops. They will soon be coming into season and are truly delicious. They are picked by hand to minimise damage and to my mind are one of the best British fruits. In fact a punnet of cherries don't last long in my house. Last year my children even put a sign on the fridge door saying "Dad, keep out of the cherries!" Well at least it's a healthy form of fridge grazing!
Check out the information on how they are grown on the Mansfields link. They are the largest growers of cherries in western Europe.

Go to work on an egg

Lots of discussion this week on whether the "Go to work on an egg" adverts should have been banned. Tremendous publicity for eggs! The campaign has probably received more media time that if it had been accepted and the adverts shown.

Nutrition messages aside and several people in our house have four - five eggs a week either poached, as omelettes, yorkshire pudding with Herefordshire Top-side of Beef (for Father's Day last Sunday except my first set were a disaster because the oven wasn't hot enough. We came back late from the Three Counties Show and I wanted to cook a roast dinner before it was time for getting ready for school the next day and was too impatient!), cakes (which reminds me I have to cook a dose of cakes for the school fete tomorrow afternoon), etc.

As with every poultrydiscussion we always come to the conclusion there must be balance and a vegetable omelette with lettuce picked fresh from the garden with a chilli dressing - can't beat it!!

If you want to see so vintage comedy though do take a look at the website - follow the link.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Arctic spring

Nature published an article yesterday that said that the Arctic spring has moved 14 days earlier in a decade! For someone who loves nature, that is an amazing statistic, but is it a clear sign of global warming?

Its amazing to think around a thousand years ago Eric the Red brought the Vikings to live on Greenland, where they lived happily by and large, until there was a climate reversal and a great cooling three hundred or so years later.

The climate is a fascinating if hugely complicated subject and I find as much conflicting information as I find complimentary on the issues surrounding climate change. Time will tell!

Saturday, 16 June 2007

The Human Imprint

After the blogging day a week ago with Anna, I decided to start a second blog called The Human Imprint! I wanted to have a blog that was particularly focused on the global imprint of the human population (see link). If you want to read some of the ideas from my studies and research then please take a look and comment and let me know what you think - discussion is so important for thinking through and challenging ideas and making sure they are robust!

Nuffield Scholars Blog

After a fantastic training session with Anna Farmery from The Engaging Brand (see link on the right hand side) we have set up the Nuffield Scholars blog (see link). It was a day when we learnt about blogs, posts. widgets, podcasts, wikis and many more new things! It is also great to think that I have moved slightly ahead of my children for a while on the technological front! Not for long I am sure! So if you want to see how the Nuffield Scholars are doing on their travels check out the blog!

Friday, 8 June 2007

Potatoes are growing!

We planted the potatoes in April and then we had a very dry spell without rain, but the potatoes are now growing well. Potatoes are planted in rows as you can see on the first picture.

Why do you think there is a pile of stones in the field? well everyone likes to buy perfect round potatoes in the supermarket with a good clean finish to the skin. If a potato grew around a stone in the ground then it would be mis shappen and if it grew too close to the top if the soil it would turn green and be rejected. How do we overcome this? we take the stones out of the soil in the rows and put it in the space between and we have to plant the potatoes at a depth where they don't come into contact with the light.

Its a complicated job!

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Walking on a farm

All the posts today have been using photos from an hours walk on the farm. Walking is good for you and look at what you can see around you - nature at its best!

Remember to follow the countryside code when visiting or walking in the countryside for more details follow the link below and find publications in the left-hand side menu


The clover is in flower in the field margins! Good to see it fixing nitrogen into the soil!

Wheat - growing well

The wheat is growing well - good news if we want to eat bread, biscuits, cakes etc !
We are growing feed wheat which is fed to livestock.
Mind you if you look at the top picture you can see where the rabbits were helping themselves earlier on in the year - at the field edge!

Bracken - fronds uncurling

Have you ever seen a bracken leaf uncurling? Well down in the wood you can!

There are concerns about the spread of bracken because it contains a chemical, ptaquiloside, that if it enters the water supply could cause digestive problems or even cancer. This chemical is tested for by our water company, Welsh Water, on a routine basis.

It is ok for bracken to be growing in the woods, but it will cause illness in horses and cattle so we need to ensure it does not spread too far into the fields!

Still I think the plant is amazing to see at this time of year!

Oil Seed Rape

We posted pictures of the rape in flower in April, but now, in June, the seed pods are forming and the plant now looks very different! Amazing to see how it capturing solar energy and converts it to oil!

Woodland Flowers

Well the woods have changed again in June - and they are in the pink!

The Foxgloves are in flower and we also have a myriad of other woodland flowers too!

Another source of poultrydiscussion at home!

Friday, 1 June 2007

Water footprint of cotton

Well, in my quest to determine our family water footprint I have been looking at the water footprint of cotton products - see the link to the water footprint website.

1 pair of jeans = 10, 850 litres of virtual water
1 t-shirt = 2,7,20 litres of virtual water

(Source )

These are average figures and the water used to produce cotton products varies greatly between countries the range of water used to produce the fabric being between 6 and 21.5 million litres per tonne. However this compares with a virtual water content for tea of between 5 and 16.6 million litres per tonne and coffee of between 6 and 49 million litres per tonne depending on where the crop is grown. (Source: )

In the UK we buy around 86 million pairs of jeans per year - that's around 372, 000 (yes thousand!!) olympic size swimming pools of water per year!

So after this poultrydiscussion we will definitely be looking at our clothes in a different light!