Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Amtrak travel

I have had great fun travelling on Amtrak trains whilst I have been in California. Very convenient and double decker trains too so great to see the farming that is going on so studying whilst I am travelling much more so than if I was driving.

California Beaches

I had a great trip on Sunday around the farming of North California, Napa Valley - wine, Marin country - dairy farming, beef as well as passing almond groves and fields with peppers being harvested. I ended up on Dillon Beach, a small secluded beach with a small community living nearby. I had to paddle in the Pacific before I went home!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

More rainbow vegetables

Rainbow vegetables

I went to the Farmer's Market in Davis, California yesterday. A truly vibrant place to be in more ways than one. The market was full of local foods, fruit, vegetables, but I had to ask if the stall holders minded me taking a photograph because the carrots and potatoes were amazing colours too. There was a scarecrow competition, information on slow food, school project information and almost a carnival atmosphere. Temperatures in the mid 70s fahrenheit help i'm sure.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Travel Companion

Whilst walking on the University Campus I was joined by a travel companion who had the most distinctive call - almost sounding like a jay - but blue! Stayed with me for a while along the way!

Nuffield Scholarship in California

Well, I have just spent my first week in California and in five days I have met seventeen people to discuss water associated issues both in Sacramento and the University of California at Davis. A very busy week with a wealth of notes to write up! What have I learnt ? Well, that the issues in Utah and California aren't really very different to the UK, rising urban population that needs houses and space; farmers producing food in an environment of growing concern on how efficiently resources are used, the impact of farming on the environment and questions on the potential results of climate change and how that might affect farming practice and urban life into the future. What are the solutions to our problems? Well I will have to think on that a bit longer.

Along the way on my US quest I have spotted in Davis, CA some London route master buses amidst the palm trees!

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Mountain stream at Sundance, Utah

Beautiful, place especially as the leaves are changing colour

Agricultural irrigation channel, Wellsville

This picture shows one of the agricultural irrigation channels at Wellsville - interesting hopefully for some of the farmers that read this blog.

Wellsville, Utah

My Nuffield Farming Scholarship has taken me to Wellsville Utah, a farming community that relies completely on irrigation. The grass that you see is all as a result of irrigation. The irrigation system is highly regulated and householders and farmers are allocated a time slot when they can access water and a maximum volume that they are allowed to take.

Thoughts from Utah

I have spent the last two weeks in Utah, studying water issues and how they relate to development. It has been interesting for me that so many of the issues that we face in the UK are the same here, such as growing urban population, less emphasis on agriculture and the need to produce food and agricultural products, and growth of amenity and tourism activities to support the leisure time of the urban population. Universally, food production seems to be of less and less importance - is this a critical policy mistake? Land prices close to urban areas for land sold for development makes the returns for agricultural production non-viable and many family farms are realising the asset value of their land. In Utah 80% of the water utilised goes into agriculture compared to around 3% in the UK and the demand for water for urban development potentially impinges even more on agricultural production here. There is an old western saying "You can steal my horse, even take my wife, but don't touch my water!" - food for thought I think.

Monday, 15 October 2007

South Cottonwood Utah

Well, I have had the opportunity to visit the land that John Benbow farmed when he came to Utah after leaving the Hill Farm in 1840. He made a working farm out of the desert! Sadly, the house no longer remains but I had my photograph taken on the site of the second house he built. The first was a long cabin he erected when he arrived. He had trout pools on the farm which is now a gold course.

Saturday, 6 October 2007


Today I graduated from the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester having completed my PhD on global food production. A very happy day!