Watch: Amy-Jane Beer talks about love for the natural world during a time of multiple crises, and the need to move away from point-scoring and argument. She ends with a question to the farmers in this group: what do you need?
"The Earth is our cradle and it will be our grave, and in between it furnishes us and feeds us, physically and emotionally, so how could we not wholeheartedly love it back?"
Press play then click for subtitles
Watch Jake Fiennes’ contribution
Out on Holkham Estate, with the cattle who are a key part of conservation management, Jake Fiennes answers a question: what is your dream for the future? "Nature based solutions are not exclusive to nature. We are all part of this wonderful environment."
Hugh discusses the meaning of love and its various interpretations. “We are born with a love for the world. It is only as we grow that we learn to fear and dominate nature."
I look out to the Transylvanian meadow, an antiquated pastoral scene that feels viscerally familiar. I feel like I’ve been here before - but that’s impossible. It must be an echo of my humanity, my species. Because I have never seen anything like it in my lifetime.
Harriet and Rob discuss the ‘critical zone’ and it’s connections to human life. "We live between the past that we’ve shaped - through extraction and abstraction and separation, as well as through love - and the future that we’re also shaping.”
Listen to Nikki Yoxall’s response to Anna Jones
In response to Anna Jones' article, Nikki Yoxall talks about how we might step back from highly intensive agriculture. "I worry that when people like me talk about agroecology or regenerative practice, that they think I want us to go back to a time when everyone used horses and carts, and cut their hay with a scythe."
Nikki Yoxall on loving her animals
Nikki Yoxall raises the challenging subject of loving your animals in the business of farming.
“Is it right, is it appropriate to raise livestock for consumption? And the question then of how can I, as somebody who is doing that, love my animals?"
Amy-Jane Beer from Castle Howard
Amy-Jane Beer provides some beautiful morning shots from the Castle Howard estate whilst discussing her fears around Curlew protection. “It is heart lifting to come and hear [the curlews], but also, I’m wary of celebrating it too much.”
Mary Colwell’s response to Amy-Jane Beer from Castle Howard
Amy - thank you for your post, and for letting us hear the call of curlews in the background. I have to say I had a short sob when they called through the mist. I attended a meeting of the Curlew Forum last night - an informal gathering of the lowland curlew groups in southern England. Together they look after around 400 pairs below Birmingham. Some of the stats made my heart break. 100 nests in Northern Shropshire, only 1 nest fledged in 2020. Only a maximum of 5 pairs left in North Wilts. Fewer than 5 pairs in Worcestershire. One pair in Rutland have produced one chick in 12 years. Only 1 pair left on Dartmoor - that region has produced 3 chicks in 20 years. These beautiful birds live a long time, they keep coming back, they keep failing. You are right. One day they will not come back and the spring air will be silent.
Cain discusses the separation between love (or attachment) and awareness, and asks "how do we repackage these conversations we are having here to make them accessible and relevant to everyone?"
Anna raises the topic of climate change including environmentalism and veganism. "In my view, we will fail in our fight against climate change if the centrists stay quiet. People like us, in this slow conversation, have a vital role to play. But how do we hold our shape in a world of fast debate?"
Dominic offers his thoughts on learning from the past without dismissing new technologies through his own experience working on novels of rural life. “Nostalgia holds up images of a world we know to be lost, but which might still have elements of value we can reclaim."
Harriet Fraser responding to Amy-Jane’s video about curlews
Harriet Fraser discusses her experience of curlews just outside Kendal and provides a thoughtful response to the point Amy-Jane raised about curlew protection. “I totally get it. That feeling of joy when you hear them. and the nervousness about what is going to happen."
Contribution from Emily Diamand
Listen to the relaxing sounds of the river and birds near her village in North Yorkshire while Emily discusses issues surrounding rural living and how people from both sides of the debate “are walking together”.
Anna Jones responds to Nikki about intensive farming.
Anna continues the discussion about intensive agriculture and its wider implications. “I agree with Nikki. I agree that drastic action is needed and I know that the world in burning. Yet I cannot fully get my head around how intensive agriculture is going to get taken out of the equation."
Click below to follow the earlier thread in this conversation:
Lee Schofield discusses the frame of mind in which we can choose to approach our landscapes today. "I’m going to try to look past what I perceive as brokenness and find the beauty beneath. It’s always there if you look hard enough."
Audio contribution from Sue Edney
Sit back, relax and listen to Sue Edney describe the landscape where she lives in Herefordshire/the Mendips (complete with background drips!) and the activities she enjoys. “This land, whatever we are fortunate enough to say we own, is not indifferent to us... [it] works with our errors as we try to make amends for mistakes made."
Read: a question by Emily Diamand
I grew up in a house surrounded by arable fields. What happened in those fields – the plough-dark stripes, green stitches of new wheat, trundle of combines and hellfire of stubble burning - was my calendar and playground. The gleam of chalk in tilled soil still feels tattooed onto my bones. At about the age of ten I developed an interest in wildflowers, and so my mum gave me an identification book she’d received as a school prize. “Just go out and look for them,” she said, but between her childhood in the 1950s and mine in the 1980s, a change had taken place - the fields now stretched unbroken to the horizon, the hedges reduced to a few hawthorn scraps. For all my searching, I only found pineapple weed and the odd poppy, and I can trace ripples throughout my life from this heartbreaking moment, when I realised that the landscape I loved so much was a wounded thing.
Perhaps you feel recognition, or perhaps you feel this story is unfair to the farmer who tilled those fields, but I'm telling it because Love + Soil places the language of emotion at the core of discussion. Beneath arguments about pesticides, payment schemes or rewilding, we all know there are undercurrents of love and hurt. Love for the notes and rhythms of the farm, for the wide or narrow landscapes that contain us, for animals domestic and wild, for a single plant or the pulse of an ecosystem. Hurt from harsh accusations against a way of living or harm to the natural world.
This is the conversation I am curious about. What do we mean when we talk about love, a word we stretch to fit around endless possibilities? What are the roots of the many kinds of love that we feel for farming, landscapes and nature in its diversity? Will understanding them lead to better ways of working together, or is this the source of the conflict we so often encounter?