For a Love of the Land
Farming formed a huge part of my life growing up. My grandparents were tenant farmers in Hampshire, a farm my Uncle now works. My father was a land agent. As a child, much of my life was rooted in the farming world.
But for most of my adulthood I lived and worked in cities: at university and thereafter when I became a barrister. Then, when I was writing my first book, our circumstances changed. Without really expecting, or particularly wanting to, I moved with my husband, son and baby, out of London and to the edge of a field in Suffolk. Over the following years we took on the running of his small family farm: replanting hedgerows, re-establishing rights of way, experimenting with different grazing techniques and converting 200 acres of conventional arable to organic.
I found the farmers around me in a very different place to the one my grandfather had been in when he was alive, known and respected for growing the nation's food. When we moved back to London a few years later I was struck by how wide the gap in understanding between city and country seemed to have grown.
For a Love of the Land is my attempt to tell the human side of farming. As with my previous book, In Your Defence, it seeks to shine a light on some of the people in farming that those in the city rarely get to hear from. Through telling their stories I hope to show the human cost of modern farming, as well as casting a light on a quiet revolution happening in farms all over the country alongside some of the biggest legal, climate and political changes to farming in two generations. Around the farmers' stories I weave my own: how I moved to the countryside for a break from 'real life' and ended up finding it instead.
Picture: wild oats being hand rogued by seasonal workers on my grandparents' farm
For a Love of the Land will be published by Viking (Penguin Random House) in Spring 2022.
I shall be doing several tours of farms in 2021 all over the country. If you know - or are - a farmer who would be prepared to let me visit your farm I would love to talk to you.
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