A Farm for the Future: What Television Should Be Like?


BBC Explores One Farm's Plans for Peak Oil - Apparently...
I'm very proud of all that Planet Green is doing to raise environmental awareness, but I think it's fair to say that the television industry is not doing all it could to draw attention to the challenges we face. So while I wouldn't normally post about a program that I haven't seen, and that only our readers in the UK can access, but Friday night's "Farming for a Future" program on BBC2 seems to have gotten so many in the UK environmental community excited that it would be crazy not to give it a shout out. Made by natural film maker Rebecca Hosking, the show apparently follows her as she plans her family farm's future as her father approaches retirement. Exploring issues like soil depletion, peak oil, agroforestry and permaculture, if Rob Hopkins of Transition Culture is to be believed, A Farm for the Future seems to have opened many folks' eyes to the urgent need for change in our food systems:
It featured a crash course in peak oil from Colin Campbell and Richard Heinberg, a trip to the Soil Association conference, a trip round Martin Crawford’s forest garden and much more besides. There was some great archive film of horses and hayricks, and perhaps the bit that struck me most, some film from the early 80s of her dad ploughing their fields, followed by a riot of birds, all wanting to get at the soil creatures being exposed by the ploughing, which she contrasts with now, the tractor ploughing the same field, but with not a bird in sight, so impoverished has the soil life become.

It offered a powerful combination of looking back and looking forward, underpinned all the time by her clear deep affection she has for the farm itself. and the deep respect she has for both her father and his work. It was surprisingly personal and moving. For me, the proof of this programme was a visit yesterday from my father in law, not usually one to be interested in such things, who had seen the programme, loved it, and told me excitedly that he now knew that hedgerows could be productive, and that fossil fuels are running out. He was very impressed with the agroforestry side of things, and I suspect that many people also watched it and found themselves similarly having Eureka moments as regards some of the insights about soil, ecosystems and the idea that food production need not necessarily involve huge tractors and lashings of diesel. It was also very powerful for people to start to realise that food production and biodiversity are not necessarily, as is often believed, mutually exclusive.

This isn't the first time the BBC has broached the subject - BBC Wales previously offered a four part series on farming and peak oil, and BBC gardening guru Monty Don has also spoken out about our food system's dependence on fossil fuels.

For those lucky enough to have access to A Farm for the Future, you can view it on the BBC iPlayer site for the next 22 days. But I'd love to hear from any commenters who know of other ways those of us who are overseas can access the show - or simply folks who can share more about what was covered. Sounds like inspirational, and very important, television - beats American Idol or the Real Houswives of OC any day of the week. If anyone wants to mail me a recording, I'd be OK with that too...

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