"Herefordshire Farmers - Guardians of the Soil" is a photo portrait campaign of Herefordshire farmers, in all their diversity - men and women, old and young, straight and gay, with large farms or small farms, with positive outlooks on their future, or grim views on their chances of survival-. The purpose is to show to the general public the faces behind the produce they buy, and behind the landscapes they see. Also, to remind the public that when they buy local produce, they support a whole community of people who make Herefordshire what it is. And by extension that when they don't buy local, farmers don't get that support and run the risk of going out of business.
The campaign is organised under the umbrella of a charity based in New York called Inside Out, which promotes and supports photo campaigns of specific communities to bring these communities to the public's attention.
The photos were taken by students of the Hereford College of Art. There is no text on the posters, only faces. People can make up their own minds on what they see - however a media campaign will be created to explain what the campaign is about, and hopefully make everyone feel concerned about the lives of Herefordshire farmers, and empowered to help them thrive.
The facebook page is probably the best intro: https://www.facebook.com/herefordshirefarmersguardiansofthesoil/
Herefordshire farmers face challenging times.
They operate in a world market where prices of fertilizers and of goods sold fluctuate widely, with European subsidies that also vary unpredictably. There is controversy about farming methods that ruin the soil and use excessive chemicals and fertilizers. The public is suspicious about large chicken and pig farms and has campaigned in Herefordshire to stop some from opening. At the same time, farmers are told by large supermarkets that they need to produce ever more cheaply.
Following this logic of ever cheaper food, low milk prices have driven half of England’s dairy farmers to close down in the past ten years.
Now is a good time to remember that behind the food we eat, and the landscapes we love, there are real people. People who care about the land and look after it.
They are a disparate group. They’re often independent minded, often operate in isolation and don’t have a strong common voice.
They’re also very different. Some farm as they have done for decades, others are always looking for new management methods and scientific input to improve their production. Some are young and enterprising, some are older. Some have high university education, some haven’t. Some are buoyant and prosperous, some barely survive. Some own their land, and lots of it, some don’t, and risk losing it, like in the case of the 30 or so families at risk of being evicted from the 4,000 acres that the Herefordshire council is about to put up for tender.
But what they do have in common is a love for the land. They have all grown up in farming families, and are viscerally attached to keeping an activity that is a lot more than earning a living. Regardless of the farm’s size, a good farmer always wants to look after his/her animals well, as well as the environment. It is about belonging to the landscape, and being good custodians of the soil.
The aim of the photo campaign is to show some of the faces of the people who make Herefordshire what it is.
Of course, as consumers, the public has enormous power over how farming evolves.
If the public wants cheap food, no matter where it comes from, then Herefordshire farmers may eventually find it difficult to compete with foreign countries.
Yet there is still time to keep local farmers in business. If people buy their milk, vegetables, fruit, meat from local producers, not only will they have the satisfaction of knowing their food comes from a reliable and healthy source, but they will also be keeping alive the very fabric of the English countryside.
Does food really have to be so cheap that 40% of it is wasted and is not fully appreciated any more?
Become a Group Leader by organizing an Inside Out Action in your community. Gather 50 or more participants that stand behind a message you are passionate about and paste your portraits in your community.