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Follow us for updates of life, food & wildlife on the farm here in the Lower Derwent Valley, Yorkshire.

By Rosewood Farm, Aug 15 2017 11:45PM

I woke up this morning and stared at the computer screen. There on Twitter was an appeal by the Wildlife Trusts urging us to support the Perry Mead Wildflower Project. I thought about the wording - a phrase I’ve used many times myself over the years, and what it means.

Essentially it is a very dry statistic 97% is almost all of our wildflower meadows, gone. The 1930’s is recent enough to be shocking, but far enough away to be forgotten - you’d need to be at least 83 to remember those days with any certainty. Most people, indeed most farmers, alive today do not have much contact with wildflower meadows - most of our food production seeks to eliminate unwanted ‘weeds’ aka wildflowers, as they are of little [financial] value to the crop.

To myself, however, this figure is shocking, I acutely feel the need to save these meadows for future generations. I sat back and considered why this might be - my immediate thought was that my mind is both logical and scientific. The fact that this blog hasn’t won the prize for the most boring piece of text on the internet is down to my proofreader and biggest critic Nat. She may have an equally logical mind but it is complimented by being visual and linguistic, which takes the dull edge off my writing. So I reconsidered the statement though her eyes and realised that it had nothing to do with the language but my own experience.

Having grown up in the Yorkshire Ings, and subsequent return after brief spells away, I’ve now come to realise that we’ve retained something very special here - our wildlife. We tend to think of ‘wildlife’ as animals, the big game of the African plains or Amazon rainforest, forgetting that it is, or was, all around us. Wild flowers may seem pretty tame next to large carnivores but they are no less important to our overall experience of the countryside and if you no longer see them it is easy to forget that they were ever there. When you visit the Ings you are not only seeing wildflowers, birds and animals, you are stepping back in time to immerse yourself in the sights & sounds that our great grandparents took for granted.

Ragged Robin was once a much more common sight in the meadows of England
Ragged Robin was once a much more common sight in the meadows of England

Later today I sat down again to read an article shared by one of our partners in the Yorkshire Ings, Natural England. The question they were asking was is it ‘time to change how we talk about it to show the love?’ The author of the article was environmental Marmite himself George Monbiot - he doesn’t always get it right, but today was different. The article, Forget ‘the environment’: we need new words to convey life’s wonders is all about the effect of linguistics on our natural world. I couldn’t help but feel that Mr Monbiot has identified a problem that we all need to overcome.

On this note, I was using twitter again the other day to discuss the #EnvironmentalSucess hashtag that has been highlighting the value of British farming to the environment. In response to a tweet about the value of wildflower arable margins I mentioned how nice it would be to see ‘whole fields full of flowers again’. I had meant that I would like to see more wildflowers allowed to flourish within the crop but the farmer mistook my intention as replacing the crop with wildflowers. Again, we had fallen victim to linguistics - I was envisaging making arable crops as biodiverse as our grasslands while he was thinking I wanted to replace his crop with ‘weeds’.

This is a perfect example of what Natural England were referring to when they said;

While Mr Monbiot may not agree with a financial value being placed upon the natural world I can see the need for it.. As recent reports show, the public already vastly overestimate farming incomes (oddly I couldn’t find reference to this in The Guardian newspaper) so there is little wonder that there is an expectation for farmers to deliver more.

Wildlife is an asset to any community and it’s important that those encouraging it to thrive are valued so that they might continue to do so. Many businesses benefit from a community that is rich in wildlife with visitors spending their hard earned cash to experience nature first hand. Property values will reflect their location and local jobs may be created on the back of nature, despite no direct investment in its upkeep.

I can’t help thinking that we waste too much energy disagreeing about language. In a world where costs are high and returns low we, as conservationists and farmers, must have a three-way conversation with the general public so that we may shape our language to better understand one another.

Meanwhile at Rosewood we still struggle to define ourselves - on Facebook we are categorised as an Environmental conservation organisation while Google has us down as a Butchers and Bing has us as a Farmshop. None of the three categories are incorrect, but neither do they give the right impression of who we are or what we do. Farmers is the most accurate term, but at the same time it is the least informative. How do you describe Rosewood to your friends?

By Rosewood Farm, Mar 19 2017 04:14PM

The release of the book Dead Zone, Where the Wild Things Were by Philip Lymbery, of Compassion in World Farming, this week reminds us that what we eat, three times every day, has a direct impact upon the variety of wild plants and animals that survive beside us in our countryside. Here at Rosewood Farm we are mindful to ensure that how we farm not only eliminates harm to other species around the world, but actively restores and enhances the biodiversity of our local landscape. Like all great culinary delights, this doesn't happen by accident, and is the result of carefully following and refining the recipe. Here's how it's done;

Biodiversity is a dish best served warm, or cold, depending upon where in the world (and the season) that it is being prepared, but most important of all it must never be reheated! The best biodiversity is a deeply satisfying, healthy and sustaining meal.

You will notice that some recipes call for you to omit key elements in order to make the nature even better, but anyone who knows the texture of a true, authentic biodiversity will recognise that it is all about the balance of many different flavours. Crustless alternatives are possible to make, but not recommended as they tend to be weak & lacking in structure, more prone to collapse as you bring them to the table.

For the pasture base;

For the filling;

Serve with carefully-selected, seasonal fresh vegetables, but go easy on them to leave plenty of room for more biodiversity. Many types of biodiversity made in the UK can be frozen and last all year but don’t rely too much on storage, as the results will degrade over time. If you get the correct balance there is no need to repeat the steps above, just keep on enjoying the results.

Whilst many hosts may push the boat out for special occasions and order in some biodiversity to impress their guests, it is important to maintain demand year-round to ensure a steady, continuous supply. There are lots of different garnishes and flavourings to ensure that it never becomes dull!

By Rosewood Farm, Oct 28 2015 02:41AM

Autumn may be with us now, but here's a little reminder of summer.

We took five minutes out of our day in June, while tending the cattle down on the Ings, to capture a short film of two young Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) investigating the hay & hedgerows in the next field. It's not unusual for us to see Roe deer while we're moving the sheep & cattle around the farm, in the Ings and particulary on Allerthorpe Common but it was a rare coincidence that they came so close to us out in the open field when I had the camera to hand.

For more information about Roe deer, visit the British Deer Society website.

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