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Golden fields, ripening apples, lowing cattle: our idea of the landscape has been shaped by agriculture, as has the land itself. But in a fast-changing world, how does the great British countryside continue to provide the food we eat?
Most people living in Britain today must go back several generations before they find an ancestor who worked on the land. How much do we really know about those who are supplying us with the most essential things in life: our daily bread and butter, meat and fish, fruit and vegetables?
In Land of Plenty Charlie Pye-Smith travels the length and breadth of these isles to explore the little-understood world of British agriculture. From ultramodern indoor dairy units producing millions of litres of milk a year to small, old-fashioned farms making cheese with twenty or thirty cows, and from landowners whose families have farmed the same fields for centuries to tenants who have just joined the industry, Pye-Smith investigates the timeless connection between land and people in the twenty-first century.
Revealing the dairy industry in Somerset and Gloucestershire; beef in the Scottish Borders; sheep in North Yorkshire; pigs and poultry in East Anglia and Hampshire; vegetables in Norfolk; and fruit in Essex and the West Country, Land of Plenty is a colourful and rewarding travelogue that gets to the very heart of modern British life.
1 To the Heart of England 1
2 All Churned Up 31
3 Dyed in the Wool? 55
4 The Fruits of Success 83
5 The Art of Growing Vegetables 109
6 Outdoors Good, Indoors Bad? 141
7 Return of the Natives 169
8 Ploughing a New Furrow 191
Charlie Pye-Smith is a writer and broadcaster who has contributed to the BBC, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph and New Scientist, among others. He has written numerous books, including The Facts of Rural Life, The Other Nile, Travels in Nepal, Rebels and Outcasts, In Search of Wild India and The Subsidy Scandal and he co-authored Working the Land and The Wealth of Communities. He is based in London and reports regularly on global farming and environmental issues for international research and development agencies.