IT’S not just that farmers now wear more practical boiler suits instead of Tweed jackets that has changed over the years. Farming practices have adapted enormously, and a newly launched project aims to record those changes for future generations. Lesley Tate reports
THERE is no doubt farming methods over the years have helped shaped the countryside around us. There is also no doubt that methods have changed hugely over the decades and practices carried out back in the 1930s bear little resemblance to those carried out today.
Now, historical links between farming and the landscape in the Yorkshire Dales will be brought together in a new project aimed at creating a comprehensive record for future generations.
And members of the public are being asked to become volunteers to help in the long job of collecting written, photographic and oral information in the coming months.
The project – called Voices from the Land – Farming and Landscape in the Yorkshire Dales– has been launched by the Farmer Network thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF).
And it is to be headed by a couple whose similar project based on farming methods in upland Cumbria which was viewed by more than 40,000 people.
The volunteers will gather the material about farming practices and landscape features in the Dales and compare it to information gathered over the last century to highlight the historical link between the industry and the countryside.
Once the collection has been brought together, it will be made available through an exhibition at the national park authority’s Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes and it will also be added to the museum’s archived collection and stored for future generations.
Those interested, will also be able to access it on the national park's website, and buy a booklet.
The project – which received a £10,000 grant from the SDF and £17,500 from the HLF – will work with farmers, Leeds University research students and local volunteers gathering information about current farming practices and comparing these with historical records from the 1930s to 1980s.
Judith Donovan, CBE, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s member champion for promoting understanding, said: “The landscape of this beautiful national park is intrinsically linked with the farming community.
“For centuries it has been fashioned by the people who live and work here and its appearance owes much to them."
She added: “This is a fascinating project that will enable everyone who has a love and an interest in the land to be aware of and to understand what the changes are and how they came about. An added bonus is that the results of the project will be permanently stored in the authority-owned Dales Countryside Museum.”
The Farmer Network has appointed Rob and Harriet Fraser to head up the project - who have a track record of success from a previous project.
Farmer Network project manager Veronica Waller, said: “We have appointed husband and wife team Rob and Harriet to work on the project following the success of their Landkeepers exhibition, which documented and photographed upland farming in Cumbria from 2012 to 2014. This was viewed by over 40,000 people and we are hoping the Voices from the Land project will have a similar success in the Yorkshire Dales.”
Volunteers will be needed between October this year and next June and work will include
interviewing and photographing farmers, transcribing interview recordings and summarising recording held in museum archives.
An information and training day for potential volunteers will be held at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes on Monday, September 26 from 10am to 4pm.
Numbers are limited so anyone who would like to be part of the team should email Harriet Fraser to find out more at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Farmer Network is a non for profit organisation set up to help, support and guide famers in the Yorkshire Dales and in Cumbria. It is run by farmers, for farmers. To find out more, visit its website at thefarmernetwork.co.uk