An unsung local hero

Do you ever wonder about the ‘District’ part of Market Harborough, and especially what life is like for our farmers? Recently I had the privilege of speaking with one of our local farmers to find out more. David (not his real name for security) talked about the challenges he had faced over the years and even more so now.

Like many areas of Leicestershire, David’s soil is very heavy clay, so growing cereal crops on it like wheat and oats is a yearly gamble. Years ago, David sold off his animals and created space for some local businesses, to provide a regular income to sup-port his family and be able to carry on farming.

In the last couple of years, the annual gamble has been made even greater by the war between Russia against Ukraine. David had prepared a sheet of figures to demonstrate how prices being paid for crops had varied greatly; yet costs for fuel, machinery, con-tractors’ charges, sprays and fertiliser, for example, had risen massively and generally stayed high. The great fluctuation in both sales and input prices has hugely increased the financial risk of farming. Changes in weather patterns have also added to this.

November and December were the wettest months David has ever known. Harvesting maize proved very difficult and planting the next crop was impossible. Now they need a good spring for planting spring crops, hoping there’s enough seed available and better conditions and prices.

In the meantime, David has been able to pursue his first love of farming – conservation. Thanks to Government grants and schemes, he has planted tree copses, grass to provide fodder for animals and lots of quick growing hedges like hawthorn. It’s the great joy of David’s life.

David is excited about the future of farming, as farmers try regenerative farming methods, but, importantly, we need our government to have a consistent long-term policy that takes food security seriously. For our part, if we, the readers, use our LOAF the future is more hopeful.

Julie Fagan
Volunteer, Harborough Climate Action and Eco Church