Approximately 75% of UK land area is used for agriculture, providing employment for around 472,000 people. The food and agriculture sector also accounts for a rising 30% of our carbon footprint, presenting an urgent need to reframe land and reinvent farming.
In a net zero world, land will need to sustain inter-cropping, livestock, pasture, biodiversity, water services, carbon sequestration and more. The prospect of new food and farming policies for the UK provides the opportunity to do things differently and we now have a much better understanding of how farming and nature can co-exist and, indeed, benefit each other. But as we strive for just transitions that leave no one behind, what are the implications of making these shifts? Minette Batters is President of the NFU, Peter Hetherington is a journalist and author of Whose Land is Our Land? and Land Renewed: Reworking the Countryside and Nick Palmer is Head of Compassion in World Farming UK. Chaired by Adele Jones, Deputy CEO, Sustainable Food Trust.
Canadian anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and photographer Wade Davis talks about his latest work Magdalena, the River of Dreams, about the Magdalena River in Colombia. His memoir braids together history and journalism, adventure through a spectacular landscape and a kaleidoscopic picture of Colombia’s complex past, present and future.
The Jan Morris Lecture is a space to celebrate the legacy of this great voyager, historian and journalist, and to listen to fascinating stories about the most significant landscapes around the world, through the work of great travel writers.
Winner of MasterChef in 2005, Thomasina Miers has led the love for Mexican cuisine in the UK with her award-winning street food restaurants Wahaca and a stream of bestselling cookbooks. In her new book Meat-free Mexican, she shows that real Mexican food, as one of the world’s most diverse cuisines, is perfect for anyone looking for inspiration in their vegetarian and vegan cooking.
Thomasina’s central philosophy is that three times a day we have a chance to influence climate change by how we buy food and what we eat. Wahaca was the first restaurant group in the UK to be certified carbon neutral, and she was awarded an OBE for her services to the food industry in 2019.
Elizabeth Zott is a one-of-a-kind scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show. Her unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. As it turns out, Elizabeth isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo. Debut writer Bonnie Garmus talks to Stephanie Merritt.
A memoir with a twist: each chapter is a recipe that tells a story. Ed Balls was just three weeks old when he tried his first meal in 1967: puréed roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. From that moment on he was hooked on food. Taught to cook by his mother, Ed’s now passing her wisdom on to his own kids as they start to fly the nest.
Reflecting on his life in recipes, Ed takes us from his grandma’s shepherd’s pie to his first trip to a restaurant in the 1970s; from the inner workings of Westminster to the pressures of parenting.
He talks Natalie Haynes through a collection of the meals he loves most, and the memories they bring back.
Explorer is the story of what first led Benedict Allen to head for the farthest reaches of our planet – at a time when there were still valleys and ranges known only to the remote communities who inhabited them. It is also the story of why, thirty years later, he is still exploring. It’s the story of a journey back to a clouded mountain in New Guinea to find a man called Korsai who had once been a friend, and to fulfil a promise made as young men. It is also a story of what it is to be ‘lost’ and ‘found’. Allen considers the lessons he has learnt from his numerous expeditions; most importantly, from the communities he has encountered and that he has spent so much of his life immersed in. He talks to travel and adventure writer Dan Richards.
Anna Fleming’s Time on Rock: A Climber’s Route into the Mountains charts her progress from terrified beginner to confident lead climber, and the way in which learning to climb offered a new relationship with both the landscape and herself. She describes how climbing invites us into the history of a place: geologically, of course, but also culturally, delving into what it’s like to be a woman in such a male-dominated world – and the ways in which the climbing community is trying to shift that balance.
Poet and novelist Helen Mort’s A Line Above the Sky is a love letter to losing oneself in physicality, whether climbing a mountain or bringing a child into the world. Melding memoir and nature writing to ask why humans are drawn to danger, and how we can find freedom in pushing our limits, she examines attitudes to women who take risks, particularly once they become mothers, and questions who their ‘body’ belongs to. Helen’s own story is haunted by the life of Alison Hargreaves who died on K2, having gone against convention by refusing to give up her career as a professional mountaineer after having children.
Come to Andrew and Rachel Giles’ farm with local vet Barney Sampson to see how their herd of dairy cows produces most of their milk from grass. Visitors can enter the milking parlour and help to milk the cows and see the calves. Find out how their four stomachs enable them to digest grass. Samples of dairy products will be provided for tasting and a local cheese maker will explain the art and science beneath the rind.
With thanks to Andrew and Rachel Giles
Join the author of Walking the Old Ways of East Breconshire and the Black Mountains and two guides from Brecon Beacons National Park on a gentle walk through the beautiful surrounds of Hay-on-Wye.
The broadcaster and champion of artisan foods presents her first cookbook, sharing 100 simple, seasonal recipes from her home in Monmouthshire, with ideas for every occasion from brunch to dinner and special feasts (there is rhubarb vodka involved). Andrew Montgomery took the photographs which, Kate says, “are intrinsic to the book”. They discuss how words and pictures came together to create the right tone, atmosphere and content – in all Welsh weathers. Kate Humble’s book Thinking on my Feet was shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize. Andrew Montgomery’s clients include Country Living, Telegraph magazine, Gardens Illustrated, Waitrose and Delicious. His latest book is Winter Gardens. Kitty Corrigan is former deputy editor of Country Living magazine.
Paddy Crewe presents his brilliantly original debut to author and critic Erica Wagner. It is 1815 in a small town in Georgia, when Yip Tolroy – mute and a social outcast – is born. His mother struggles to manage his needs, leaving Yip to find his own way in a hostile environment. He begins to transform his life by learning to read and write, his portal into the community a piece of slate and supply of chalk. At 15, his life is altered irrevocably when he witnesses the discovery of gold and commits a grievous crime that leaves him with no choice but to flee. Thrust into a world of violence, Yip and his unlikely comrade Dud are forced to leave town and embark on an odyssey across the wonder and horror of the American frontier.
Ea has always felt like an outsider. She suffers from a type of deafness that means she cannot master the spinning rituals that unite her pod of spinner dolphins. When tragedy strikes her family and Ea feels she is partly to blame, she decides to make the ultimate sacrifice and leave. A transformative new novel by a foremost writer of climate fiction, of an ocean world – its extraordinary creatures, mysteries, and mythologies – that is increasingly haunted by the cruelty and ignorance of the human race. Paull talks to broadcast journalist Georgina Godwin.
Trevithel Court is a traditional mixed farm and David James is the third generation of his family to work there, along with his son Will. Their orchards supply apples for Bulmers and other cider producers in Herefordshire and Wales. Walk among the apple trees, pollinated by bees, look inside a beehive, learn about cider production and sample some cider and honey. The farm also produces grass-fed beef cattle and arable crops. See the animals and machinery used for production and harvesting. Agronomist Jonathon Harrington leads the tour.
With thanks to David and Catherine James
In his follow-up to The End of the Line: How Overfishing is Changing the World, the environmental campaigner chronicles how determined individuals are proving that the crisis in our oceans can be reversed. We need to step aside and let nature repair the damage: whether it is the overfishing of bluefin tuna in the Atlantic or the destruction of coral gardens by dredgers in Lyme Bay. Trawling and dredging create more CO2 than the aviation industry and damage vast areas of the continental shelves, stopping them soaking up carbon. We need to fish in different ways, where we fish at all. Charles Clover is Executive director and co-founder of the Blue Marine Foundation. In conversation with Andy Fryers, Sustainability Director at Hay Festival.
The Arctic treeline, which encircles the north of the globe in an almost unbroken ring, is the frontline of climate change, where the trees – Scots pine, birch, larch, spruce, poplar and rowan – have been creeping towards the pole for 50 years already. The author has travelled through Scotland, northern Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland, witnessing the impact of climate change and the devastating legacies of colonialism and capitalism. But he also finds reasons for hope. Humans are creatures of the forest; we have evolved with trees. Rawlence asks where our co-evolution might take us next, underpinned by an urgent environmental message. In conversation with writer, editor and translator Daniel Hahn.