The full programme is available for this year’s festival, 25 May to 4 June. We very much look forward to seeing you in Hay.
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Crop drones, precision pesticides, earthworm management, poultry software and GPS- directed tractors are just some of the new technologies that are revolutionising agriculture. The panel discusses agri-tech innovation helping farmers to become more efficient by using fewer resources. Browning is CEO of the Soil Association, Speller is an award-winning poultry farmer, Freestone a Linking Environment and Farming accredited farm manager.
From blackbirds, beavers and beetles to tawny owls, natterjack toads and lemon slugs, every day of the year, winter or summer, in every corner of the British Isles, there's plenty to see if you know where -- and how -- to look. The Springwatch star’s books include The Bumper Book of Nature and Tweet of the Day.
Among the bravest fighters for the Amazon rainforest are the Wampis people from Peru. They’re supported by the Size of Herefordshire, a local group, who are just back from visiting them and join us with photographs, films and stories.
Elephants are ecosystem shapers. By knocking down trees and opening up bushy areas, they can increase the amount of grass available to other herbivores in the system. They move across vast distances, using distinct pathways that also offer easy travel routes to other species. Elephants can act as seed dispersers, facilitating the growth of many woody species by depositing seeds in their faeces. In this illustrated introduction, the zoologist and founder of the Botswana conservation project Elephants for Africa explores the conservation and study of elephants in their natural eco-systems.
The best-selling author describes the age-old cycle of a farming year and the constant challenges of life at Ravenseat, the remote Yorkshire hill farm she shares with husband Clive, nine children and 1,000 sheep. Chaired by Oliver Balch, author of Under the Tump.
The changing ‘treescape’ of the UK holds clues to social, political and natural events throughout history. From agriculture to boat building, Dutch elm disease and the great storm of 1987, the state of trees and woods in our landscape tell a story of our past and hold lessons for our future. Author Fiona Stafford and woodland ecologist George Peterken, both featured in Arboreal, a Common Ground collection of woodland writing, talk to Christiana Payne, Professor of History of Art at Oxford Brookes University.
A connection with trees and woods helps people find inspiration, inner calm and mental balance. Author and journalist Tobias Jones and poet Zaffar Kunial are both featured in Arboreal, a Common Ground collection of woodland writing. They are joined by the illustrator Jackie Morris to discuss the role of trees and woods in finding inspiration and mental balance in our lives.
The writer and politician recounts his final journey with his 90-year-old father along the border between Scotland and England. They relive Scottish dances, reflect on Burmese honey-bears, and on the loss of human presence in the British landscape. On mountain ridges and in housing estates they uncover a forgotten country crushed between England and Scotland: the Middleland. They discover unsettling modern lives, lodged in an ancient land. Their odyssey develops into a history of nationhood, an anatomy of the landscape, a chronicle of contemporary Britain and an exuberant encounter between a father and a son.
Leaving her garden to the mercy of the slugs, award-winning writer Alys Fowler set out in an inflatable kayak to explore Birmingham’s canal network, full of little-used waterways where huge pike skulk and kingfishers dart. Her memoir is about noticing the wild everywhere and what it means to see beauty where you least expect it. What happens when someone who has learned to observe her external world in such detail decides to examine her internal world with the same care? Chaired by Lucy Cotter.
Seaton, the founder of TOAST, is inspired by the food from our seas, our rivers, our farmland, our gardens and our wild places. Her new cookbook is full of simple, seasonal and nourishing recipes such as braised short ribs with horseradish, courgette fritters with minted yoghurt, mackerel escabeche with wild fennel and kale, and roast vegetable and barley salad with crisped artichokes. She shares her love of food and landscape with Kitty Corrigan.
A spectacular tour, from the solar system to the most distant objects that have been observed reveals the vastness of the Universe, which began with an explosion 13.7 billion years ago. Hamuy shows that the Universe is tremendously dynamic and in permanent evolution. The astronomer is from Chile, a country that has become the Earth’s window into space. He was part of the team that detected the acceleration of the universe and the existence of a new dark energy component in the 1990s. Chaired by Martin Rees.
The comedian and poet performs work produced during her residency at Quarry Bank, one of the Industrial Revolution’s best-preserved textile mills. Fox has had unique access to journals of women who worked in the mill, which has informed her lifelong commitment to the issues of gender history and ‘Northern-ness’.
In the 1830s, a number of geologists, who were essentially border squires and clergymen, shared their knowledge of fossils with Roderick Murchison, which led to the eventual designation of the ‘Silurian System’. This appreciation of the landscape and being able to ‘read the land’ was also the inspiration in the county for the Picturesque Movement’. Olver explains the origins of the rock types and the local landscape and discusses the importance of Herefordshire in the formative years of geological science.
Come along to our immersive lantern-lit tented Storytelling Nook to listen to Veronica Lamond’s illustrated stories of Landy and Fender the lovable Land Rovers, and Kenyan author Aunty Kiko’s tale “Baby Elephant’s Safari, and experience how solar light is making a difference to millions of families in Africa.
Modern science has begun to understand sea birds: their epic voyages, their astonishing abilities to navigate for tens of thousands of miles on a featureless sea, their ability to smell their way towards fish and home. Only the poets in the past would have thought of seabirds as creatures riding the ripples and currents of the planet, though that is what the scientists are witnessing now, too. But a global tragedy is unfolding. The number of seabirds is in freefall: a 70% decline, a billion fewer now than there were in 1950.
Krauss takes us on a tour of science and the brilliant personalities who shaped it, often against political and religious indoctrination, enduring persecution and ostracism. He explains our current understanding of nature and the struggle to construct, and then to understand the greatest theoretical edifice ever assembled: the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Krauss is the author of the classic A Universe From Nothing and The Physics of Star Trek.
Once considered separate and independent, it is now clear that the there is an intimate, two-way connection between the two most complex body systems: the immune system and the brain. So our behaviour can affect inflammation in the body, and immune cells can alter our behaviour. Reverend Alasdair Coles, Professor of Neuroimmunology examines the implications. Chaired by Daniel Davis.
Whether as signposts to an underworld, beacons to ancient mariners or as extraordinary manifestations of the natural world, volcanoes have intrigued many people, who have left records of their encounters in letters, diaries, sketches and illustrations. The Oxford volcanologist shares contemporary accounts of eruptions – from Pliny’s 79 CE report of Vesuvius to 21st century imaging of Santorini.
Pearson draws on ten years of his Observer columns to explore the rhythms and pleasures of a year in the garden. Travelling between his city-bound plot in Peckham and 20 acres of verdant hillside in Somerset, he celebrates the beautiful skeletons of the winter garden, the joyous passage into spring, the heady smell of summer’s bud break and the flaring of colour in autumn.
We make up our minds about others after seeing their faces for a fraction of a second –and these snap judgments predict all kinds of important decisions. Yet the character judgments we make from faces are as inaccurate as they are irresistible. Using cutting-edge research, the Princeton psychologist describes how we have evolved the ability to read basic social signals and momentary emotional states, using a network of brain regions dedicated to the processing of faces.
Much like human families, tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them and support them as they grow, sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling and creating an ecosystem that mitigates the impact of extremes of heat and cold for the whole group. Trees in a family or community are protected and can live to be very old. In contrast, solitary trees, like street kids, have a tough time of it and in most cases die much earlier than those in a group. Wohlleben presents the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities. Chaired by Georgina Godwin.
Why does public debate and policy treat the application of genetic technology differently when we are discussing medicine and food? Why is our concept of what is ‘natural’ so controversial and the idea of GM food so alarming? Scientists and sociologists come together with Daniel Davis to discuss what’s being ventured and how it is perceived.
Taking us through the seasons in England’s apple-growing heartlands, Brown uncovers the stories and folklore of our most familiar fruit. An orchard is not a field. It’s not a forest or a copse. It couldn’t occur naturally but it demonstrates that man and nature together can create something beautiful.
In 2016 over 50 organisations came together across the UK to produce and publish the second State of Nature report. It shows that the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. The long-term future of farming is at stake if the natural systems on which it is based are depleted. Our panel looks at what the next 30 years could look like if the natural environment was placed at the centre of farming policies post-Brexit. Poet Martin Daws will open and close this event.
The Tree Charter launches this year, built from more than 50,000 public stories about the value of trees and woods. How have the issues of rights and responsibilities shaped the relationship between people and trees over the 800 years since the 1217 Charter of the Forest? Germaine Greer, author of White Beech: The Rainforest Years and community woods enthusiast Rob Penn talk with Woodland Trust CEO Beccy Speight about the role of trees in our lives; and about the role of a Tree Charter in protecting this for the future.
A hunt for the world’s most elusive bees leads Goulson from Salisbury plain to Sussex hedgerows, from Poland to Patagonia. Whether he is tracking great yellow bumblebees in the Hebrides or chasing orchid bees through the Ecuadorian jungle, the biologist’s wit, humour and deep love of nature make him the ideal travelling companion.
On the final day of his crowd-funding campaign for his new book Bill’s Kitchen, food writer and restaurateur Bill Sewell discusses his journey from concerned London vegetarian to enthusiastic rural omnivore. His trademarks are strong flavours, simple techniques and a passion for the pleasure of cooking as well as eating. They talk about eating well but not cleanly; and the ways in which social media can either kill or build a sense of community around food, cooking and eating.
The tree experts introduce the ancient yew at Runnymede, which may have been 1,700 years old when King John signed the Magna Carta under its branches in 1215; the existing Isaac Newton apple tree and other wonderful ancient trees from around England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Power is head gardener at Stourhead. Muelaner is co-author of Ancient Trees of the National Trust.
Do you have a tree you need identifying? Bring us a leaf or a photo and we’ll ask our experts Brian and Alan and The Woodland Trust’s tree guru Jill Butler. They’ll be at the Woodland Trust stall onsite during the day.
The Wye’s natural beauty has long been part of the river’s heritage, but many aspects of its history have been forgotten. Having both a Welsh and an English heritage, the Wye has a special unifying role in British culture, as well as exhibiting some of the classic features of a border. The river has been a psychological barrier separating cultures by language, religion and politics, and a physical barrier separating hostile rivals. By tradition the Wye was the last refuge of Vortigern and of Owain Glyndwr. In the 18th century, timber that was floated down the river from the Golden Valley built the British fleet that took on the French at Trafalgar.
How does the green movement best respond to the collapse of the liberal consensus and the defunding of the American EPA? Is it a useful slap in the face to a movement that may have become a little too comfortably ensconced in the mainstream? Veteran environmentalist Jonathan Porritt joins Claire Fox from the Institute of Ideas and sustainability expert Ed Gillespie to talk with Forum for the Future’s Martin Wright.