Crop to Table
Walking through the fields, you can see the first signs of the vivid green blades of leaves pushing up through the earth, a word used both for both the soil itself and the planet on which we all live. Pre-industrialisation, most people worked on the land but today the majority are unfamiliar with its rhythms, imperatives and its demands.
One of the most popular shows currently on television is Clarkson’s Farm, the Cotswold farm where motoring pundit Jeremy Clarkson now lives and works. Once famous for testing the sleekest of super cars or off-roading a new 4×4, he perhaps predictably began his television farming career by buying an enormously large tractor simply because he liked the brand.
Although he had owned the farm for a number of years already, following the departure of his farm manager, Jeremy decided he wanted to work the farm himself and the TV series shows both his learning curve and the difficulties faced by all farmers today. Luckily for him, he had a successful career and a TV deal which helped float the farm’s finances.
There are many very funny moments. One of the more forthright stars of the show is a young man called Kaleb who, despite never having left the area in which he had been born, pulls no punches in telling the famous Clarkson that he has been a plonker when it all goes wrong (which is much of the time).
Throughout both series Clarkson has focused heavily on the link between crop and table and just how hard it is for farmers to make a living amongst spiralling bureaucracy and costs apart from the vagaries of the weather. He has made it very clear how incredibly hard that is to achieve despite the fact that food is a necessity for us all. Whilst I undoubtedly should eat less, no one should starve.
One memorable scene filmed a meeting convened with local farmers, committed to the land, to the earth, crops and animals, trying to diversify and survive and yet being blocked at every turn. Despite Brexit leading to increasing and widely publicised issues with food logistics, farmers here are still largely unsupported by government and there seems to be perilously little understanding of how food actually gets into our supermarkets.
In the UK, our countryside is, in many ways, shaped by famers: the field patterns, hedgerows, coverts and woodlands. Areas of outstanding natural beauty preserve the essence of the landscape and are good for the soul, restorative to our mental health and places to exercise but they are all underpinned by farmers and their stewardship of the land.
If farmers go out of business or cannot undertake stewardship work, we will all be poorer for it as there is no government provision for suddenly increasing supplies from the EU. Furthermore if farms fail and our own internally sourced food supplies weaken, we will become ever more dependent on importing foodstuffs from elsewhere with all the attendant political and environmental costs.
Clarkson’s Farm has been an eye opening programme for many viewers: the camaraderie, the long days of work, the disappointments, the upsets, the sheer skill involved in apparently mundane tasks like hedge-laying. I, for one, hope the story is not over yet and he continues to educate in the most entertaining way possible, what goes on behind getting food on our tables.
That’s so interesting! Not something I think about on a daily basis, but if the farming begins to fail, we all will wish we had thought about it a bit more.
Farming has to take the long view – it is not something to turn around quickly either
Growing up in the UK many years ago and living in another country I am a regular viewer of the Diddy Squat Farm series.
I am learning so much about the controlling of the UK and County bureaucracy for farmers.
I hope this show can assist the farmers.
I also have had my eyes opened by Clarkson’s Farm and hope it continues to show the trials small farmers have. I live in Pennsylvania where the landscape is dotted with Amish farms, who use no electricity in their lives. We are blessed that we can enjoy the fruits of their labors with the small stands they have selling eggs, produce, flowers, milk, meat etc. which is generally much tastier and less expensive than our large grocery stores. But I read that they, too, are facing many problems. We all stand and support small farmers everywhere!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I couldn’t agree more!! Our farmers are the ones who fill our supermarkets and roadside stands with all that sustains us. They deserve respect and support because, as you so wisely point out, if more food needs to be imported…well…. not a good result. Clarkson has raised awareness of the importance of farming on so many levels. Climate change and the economy are just the beginning. Respect for Mother Nature is vitally important. Farmers keep us nourished and those who suffer with food insecurity need our care.
All good luck with your spring planting, new foals in the barn, and all you do to bring our attention to what really matters. God bless, and stay safe and well.
Charlotte Merriam Cole
I so enjoy your blog Lady Carnarvon. Wonderful for bringing down stress levels!
That is kind
Very interesting. Here in California we keep getting more and more people, needing more and more infrastructure. Consequently, there is less and less farm land. Where is our food supposed to come from?? I don’t want to be dependent on Mexico and Central America or heaven forbid on China. I feel very sorry for the future generations.
Educational and entertaining. We are glad of Clarkson and all of the shows about the UK that we can view here in Door County, Wisconsin, USA!
Likewise from Neenah, Wisconsin USA.
And here in Brookfield, Wisconsin!
Hello Lady Carnarvan!
I’m going to petition my PBS station to show Clarkson’s Farm. It sounds like a most interesting program.
And I learned a new word: plonker. . Thanks for that!
I grew up in New Jersey, south Jersey to be precise, and it was for generations very rural with many farms. Sadly, not many farms remain. I still remember the little insulated silver box that sat on our front porch. The dairyman came by two or three times a week and delivered milk. Locally sourced fresh milk and it was delicious!
Have a wonderful week!
It is on Amazon so I imagine you can see it! You will laugh out loud…
Lovely the pictures of crop of table and you and lord Carnarvon have a nice weekend and l like to visit highcelere castle and fan of Downton Abbey
I hope PBS imports that program – we could use a lesson or two on the importance of farmers in the US.
How about the huge massive feed lots and chicken and pork industry that is actually abusive to the animals? The US has an eye on the golden prize mostly. Maybe it is time for us to rethink what and how we eat.
It is about farms not factories – I agree with you
Lovely the pictures of crop of table and l lovely to visit highcelere castle and lam lovely downtown abbey have you got any flowers out yet
A few shoots are appearing in the grounds
My goodness such an Important message Mr Clarkson has provided for the public and you Lady Carnarvon thank you so much for sharing & pointing this out. As a dairy farmer in Maine I have seen first hand how unsupported farmers are struggling to survive. Feed, hay, Veterinary care, butchering-all retail costs! While I love my sheep and this life -it is grueling, lambing is season on the horizon. Our state, thankfully, has shifted thinking to supporting our local food resources. I will continue to enjoy your messages & stories of life at – Lol almost said at “The Abbey” Highclere . Be well.
You too – thank you
So glad to see this post! I wish I could see Clarkson’s show! Another way farmers have brought their remarkable stories to the public is through on-farm tours – featuring not only fresh produce but also everything imaginable that would intrigue all ages!
In fact, an organization of US, Canadian and UK farm friends is hosting a members’ tour of six UK farms April 12-14. It will cover farms from near Leeds in the Midlands and end just south of London. I hope you hear about it.
The organization is the North American Farm Direct Market and Agritourism Association (NAFDMA) which encourages farmers to tell their on-farm stories to everyone – from Grandma to young children – from baby goats to farm-to-table dinners. And these enterprising farmers boost their incomes by this farm entertainment!
Thank YOU for supporting this type of story with your incredible offerings to the public at Highclere!
Sadly, we often take things for granted, not realizing the work that goes into food production. We must all strive to be supportive of farmers and their farms, if we are to continue to enjoy life.
Having returned yesterday from a fortnight in England, I was amazed at how green all the fields in Lancashire were! Here in the southern US the lawns and fields are brown from the first frost. They’re just beginning to green up now, as the warmer weather arrives.
We have recently moved from our small farm (15 acres, where we grew most of our vegetables and fruits) to my husband’s family home on a lake (15,000 acres of water, but no room for any vegetable patch). We will miss our lovely vegetable garden, but are able to get our eggs and many vegetables from local farmers.
Thank you for reminding or educating your readers about the importance of locally sourced produce. It is important to support local farmers!
So much of todays realities are concerning and scary given how so much of original ways of living & focus on agriculture, farm animal care and food growth and distribution are dissolving away given global focus on technology, construction building expansions and transportation all using up lands that once were useful and necessary farm fields and so many world-wide living in high-rise buildings without areas to have their own farm lands and personal gardens. So sad also for what has happened to Ukrainians and their land which so much of it were wonderful fields of food growth and dependent upon by many 3rd world countries given Russia’s invasions.
Thank you again for your Monday morning blog.
Remain well and good luck with your multiple acreage of land and animal care there at Highclere.
Thank you for mentioning Clarkson’s Farm.
As you said it was eye-opening to see what
farmers go through to produce food. From our vegetables, meats and even honey. It is hard work, long hours and constantly trying to go by government rules. It seems everything he tried was bogged down by those laws. I am sure it is the same with the small farmers in the US.
God Bless The Farmers for being willing to work hard for us.
I never thought I would promote Jeremy Clarkson, but here I am doing just that for his farm program and his Diddly Squat shop and restaurant. I grew up in north Berkshire, and on my visits back there over the years have been more than alarmed by the changes in farming and agriculture in general. Clarkson brings much needed attention to the parlous state of the countryside and farming’s contribution to our everyday life. Yes, he is bringing change to the Cotswold area but so are those people who move to the country and want to stop grain dryers blowing, cows lamenting their lost calves and roosters crowing. His changes support those who provide food for us all. Locally grown and not imported, with all the troubles and headaches that option contains.
We watch Clarksons Farm on Amazon here in the US. Well worth looking for.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
First I have to say I love the little pony. It reminds me of the Newfoundland pony. I have great respect for farmers especially after trying to keep my own little garden. My father and I built a large raised bed in our garden a few years ago. It has been an adventure. Dad has since passed but I try every summer to grow a few basic vegetables. It is not easy so I can only imagine how it can be on a large farm. The show sounds interesting so I will have to see if I can find it on TV. I will say one thing there is no better feeling then eating something fresh and tasty from your own garden. Maybe one day I will be able to taste the wonderful jam pictured above. Again, thank you for your writings.
Clarksons Farm is one of my favorite programs. Just wish language could not be so coarse sometimes.
It has definitely highlighted how hard and costly it is to furnish nourishment to the people on our planet. Dealing with the hard work, the cost, the weather and the politics is overwhelming. I’m surprised we have any farmers. But I thank each and every one of those who dedicate their lives to feeding the nations.
May God bless each of their endeavors.
Lady Carnarvon. Your story reminds me of stories my mother use to tell of the hardships that were had by most here in the States during the great depression in the 1930’s. They raised cows and chickens which lead to selling eggs milk cream and cheese in thenearby town. Grandpa had enough land that they raised enough hay and grains for the family and the animals. As the oldest, my Mother worked in the fields at 12 years old.
I’m not familiar with the UK and their regulations…but it sounds hard to work with. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Dear Lady Carnarvon, I am struck by your clear analysis of a crisis in England few others in the economic genre have paid attention to or written about. I listen to the Beeb regularly and can remember only a passing comment as part of a panel’s overall assessment of the after-effects of Brexit. From the end of rationing in 1953 through the 60s when Britain began the climb back into a semblance of economic stability (even through political instability…) it would seem that Brexit was the single event which reversed the course of so many economic indicators, and leaves me, for one, fearing for the U.K.’s overall welfare. Thank you for the clarity with which you have cited this segment of the looming crisis.
I think there is a national crisis and the gears are grinding in many aspects of business/economic life. In a family, business or country you have money in and money out. Here we have high food imports and other imports which we buy so money out, but we cannot export with any ease or at all so not much money in.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
This was an excellent and important column today that I am forwarding to my friends. My husband and I thoroughly enjoy Mr. Clarkson’s program and laugh out loud at his antics on every episode. But I very much admire his (and your) dire messages about the plight of farmers in your country and mine. His heart is in the right place and that’s what matters to me. Spoiler Alert, when his heifer didn’t conceive after multiple tries, he made the decision to NOT send her to slaughter but to make her a pet. Bless him, and you, for your tremendous efforts to educate. That is the key.
dear Lady Carnarvon,
thank you for remarking on the Clarkson program. I just completed the episode with Badger problems like them being a protected species, yet spreading TB to cattle! I’ve always thought we have too many regulations here in the US, the numbers and layer of bureaucracy you have to deal with is overwhelming. if Imhas to muck through them, I’d probably use language like Mr. Clarksons.
There is a balance
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Clarksons Farm is a great show. It goes to show how hard to be a farmer.
Thank you for shining a light on our farmers. Farming MUST be included as an essential service. Our farmers are critical to the health of all countries worldwide, including Canada.
Many farmers sell their farmland to developers because they have difficulty maintaining it. Our government must prioritise supporting our farmers. They are feeding the nation.
Thank you for another great read!
Have a wonderful week.
Clarkson’s farm has to be one of the best programmes on TV for some time and shows up the BBC’s wokefest Countryfile I for one try to buy as much food direct from the farmers use farm shops and then what l can’t get there l use local shops
So l have delicious Organic Longhorn beef from a farm near Shrewsbury Cloth bound Cheshire cheese made with unpasteurised milk and wonderful Salt Marsh lamb from N Wales
If we don’t use it we will lose it Yes it takes a bit more effort but the taste is better and the money you spend stays locally
Here in Texas, people are pouring in every day, hoping for a better life. Costs of housing have soared, farm and ranch land is being bought to build more housing, adding to the uneasy feeling of future shortages of water. The farmers and ranchers are mostly selling because of either eminent domain is pushing them out, or they can no longer afford to keep what they have because of rising costs. On the television series Yellowstone, ranches are being bought by monied corporations to build resorts and a giant airport. One scene in the show has a cowboy saying “Where do people think their food comes from?”
I live in Iowa, where farming is still a major US industry and some of what you described is not unlike some of what farmers here sometimes face because modern farms are beset by so many issues and world events that their predecessors did not have to face. We are having a major controversy here right now because much of the corn crop goes for ethanol production and companies are trying to build carbon capture pipelines to off set the byproducts, but many rural landowners are opposed and the legislature is debating if or how much a private company should be allowed eminent domain. However, the first photo really grabbed my attention, in that Iowa is also the home of John Deere and it warms the heart to see John Deere green on a farm in the Cotswolds. Will definitely have to research the show.
I think it is better to use waste food products by towns to process that into energy than growing crops and effectively incinerating them ! Effective solar power seems sensible in parts of the world as a part answer elsewhere
Your lovely words remember me of Mr. Mason’s Farm in Downton Abbey…I believe we all should help and support local farms and activities. Daisy would be so happy!
In addition to Clarkson’s Farm, another program available on Amazon Prime is This Farming Life. It also demonstrates the challenges of farming, whether it be agricultural or livestock. Living in the Champlain Valley of Vermont, I am surrounded by farms, and both programs have given me a better appreciation of the daily workings of those farms.
Thank you for blogging about “Clarkson’s Farm.” My husband and I just finished the second season. Trying to open their restaurant was frustrating to watch. It seemed like it was a “win-win,” but maybe there were other variables the watching audience did not know. And, you are right, having the money to “fix” the issues did help! Are you looking to become self-sustaining at Highclere?
instead of the words self sustaining i prefer to just be part of the farming cycle -I don’t think we should always think about sustaining us but about a world in which wildlife etc can live too
I’ve never noticed that series on Amazon! So glad I read your blog. I’ll be anxious to watch this!
It’s wonderful to stand up and cheer on Clarkson and small-holdings farmers, BUT if we really want to help particularly the small holders, we must buy from them directly. Know thy farmer!
Better yet why not grow as much of our own food as possible. It is surprising how much produce a small garden plot can produce. Those without access to land could plant into pots or grow bags. Edible landscaping. Food forests. There are dozens of ways to include food in our gardens.
Bottom line: No matter where we live, the more self-sufficient we are the better prepared we will be for whatever our future holds.
Another troubling development here in the US is the farm fields I see being converted to Solar panel-filled energy collectors. Which I see as perhaps-well- intentioned moves to supplement one issue, impacting a more basic one- food production!
I imagine the people who endorse these diminutions of food producing land expect we will all be eating synthetic foodstuffs in the future.
I think there is a place for different resource needs. Food, however, cooking is about enjoyment, savouring taste and friendship..
Wonderful view of “Clarkson’s Farm”. The reality of UK farming is its very high standard looking after the environment and the animals. Brings to mind, Oxford economist Ernest F. Schumacher’s classic, “Small Is Beautiful,” a study of economics as if people mattered, call for the end of excessive consumption. Celebrating 50 years since its publication Schumacher inspired such movements as “Buy Locally” and “Fair Trade.” I particularly enjoyed the picture of the medieval barn, thank you for sharing as usual.
I love the show and after all the shows he has done, I’ve seen them all, I enjoy this one the most. He really does bring all the struggles of farmers to the table, so to speak, in a way that allows everyone to understand. And the entire cast together are hilarious.
Jeremy has done wonders for farmers all over. The bureaucracy we all face in whatever country you live in doesn’t seem to help the farmers. My husband retired from farming but the struggles were terrible and the people protesting them. It is sad because we all need to support farming.
Having grown up on a dairy/horse farm (with crops), I love Clarkson’s farm. One thing my father did, to his credit, was rebuild the engines on all three of his tractors vs. purchasing new ones, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars. And trying to guess the weather twenty plus years ago…maddening some days. It is interesting to see how technology has changed/improved farming.
I do hope Clarkson is able to continue his show. I did my part and purchased a Clarkson’s Farm sock cap, and a CF apron that hangs in my kitchen that sees daily use.
Lady Carnarvon, I have such great respect and admiration for farmers. They give us so much. We all most support our farmers. They are our life line. Cheryl.
Having grown up on a farm, what Clarkson’s Farm is presenting is accurate. But isn’t it funny that it’s coming from a rough spoken fellow like Clarkson? Love that show!
Writing to You, Lady Carnarvon, from The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley & Blue Ridge Mountains – one of Gods most beautiful creations and a Valley not to far from AT which Feeds Virginia fresh Fruits, Vegetables and livestock, Mennonite family farms and new farms of 250+ years which survived a civil war, Great Depression and more than two WW. Joel Salatin, an internationally world renowned farmer/author helps us like the above BBC production here State-Sides Farm to Table. Clarkston & Salatin would have MUCH to discuss at Highclere Estate with Geordie & Staff
Cheryl Ahern Dulog
My travel agency, Sight and Soul Travel, just informed me that we will not be visiting Highclere Castle on May 23rd, because you will be entertaining for the coronation. There were two things i really wanted to see on the trip. The first was the Chelsea Flower Show, which they took off the program because last year no one on the trip wanted to go, and your beautiful home. Most of the other things on the trip i have already seen. What a disappointment.
Good Morning – we offer many tours in May including on May 23, 24,25. However they are sold out as we post them early to help guests/tour companies make their plans. They are around the Chelsea Flower Show which we love as do many of our guests! I am not quite sure what the tour company is saying. in any case anyone can buy tickets to the flower show, it is lovely to wander around and spend a morning or afternoon there
Thank you for your response. i am forwarding it to my travel company.
We are also great fans of Clarkson’s Farm in spite of the salty language. However, it is our understanding that the show will not be back for another season because of an unfortunate remark made by Jeremy about Megan Markle. I understand none of his shows have been renewed. I hope this is not correct. The Council or whatever it is called was going out of the way to thwart every project Jeremy tried to start, most notable was the restaurant. So frustrating for him, but even his farm manager said it was deliberate. So sad.
Time will tell
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Sorry for the delay in responding. We have had back-to-back ice and snowstorms in our area. The weather caused many power outages. Some lasted for more than a week.
Thank you for this Monday’s blog and for sharing your and reality television’s views on farmers and farming.
It is the same situation here in the United States with no signs for improvement or long-term future resolution. Perhaps we should consider doing what the Biblical character, Joseph did: start storing seven years of grain.
Until next time.