Small scale farming is very much in the news this week, with Milk rightly at the fore. I grew up in the extreme west of Cornwall, the very heartland of our dairy industry, with its proud farmers making clotted cream, Cornish butter and rich milk. The trip home last week was tinged with sadness, in that already the farms are converting to holiday lets, and the fields are empty – the average dairy farmer loses over £80,000 a year and we need to remember, that our countryside looks as it does because farmers farm: England’s rolling green is totally (albeit beautiful) artificial.
The other small scale food production in that craggy landscape is fishing. Here again, we have some staggeringly good indigenous products: fish and shellfish – the latter perhaps some of the finest in the world. Our native day boats, not much larger than estate car, go out and catch fish by hand line, or crustaceans in hand-woven pots. It’s impossible to over-fish this way, and the catch is landed within hours, not days, or in the worst cases weeks.
The answer is to buy this artisan product whenever you can, and wherever possible directly from the producer, or from the local food communities which buy directly from them, both our dairy and fishing industries are hanging in the balance – it is for us to ensure that they are there for generations to come.