Manor Farm, Alton, Hants GU34 3BD
20 Apr 2020

April at Manor Farm and Covid 19

What a difference a month makes.  Last month I was lamenting about the wet ground conditions and implications for my cropping plans, whereas now I have perfect Spring planting conditions.  Sadly the crops I am planting now will not be for sale but will be grazed by our sheep, this will at least help to improve the soil fertility in the long term and in the short term it will help prepare the soil ready to plant wheat in the Autumn.

Lambing is in full swing and with our system being outdoors it has been a pleasure to check them at dawn each morning.  Life has the same routine for me at the moment but we live in extraordinary times and life is far from the same routine for most.  A month or so ago I would have taken an indoor job any day, now I count myself lucky to be working outside.

In previous articles I have discussed our broken food system where we have enough food but distribution is the issue and the current pandemic has highlighted this even more. With the temporary closure of the food service sector, most have struggled to offset food from this sector to where it is most needed in the retail sector .

On the one hand most of you are now used to queueing to enter a supermarket and having limited choice on the shelves.  Whilst we expected a surge in buying as people were worried about not being allowed out for weeks, the situation should have balanced itself.  This week the farming press have reported that some dairy farmers have no choice but to dump their milk as processors supplying the catering sector are not collecting it, the meat sector has also been affected with the food service sector being closed although this has been minimised as a lot of this was imported. By the way now is a great time to buy high value cuts as a lot of these would have gone to the restaurant trade. In the scheme of things this sounds incomprehensible in the current climate and it highlights the inflexibility of our food system that is dominated by big companies who cannot adjust their supply chains quick enough.

With this in mind I ask you to think about the way you buy food and the way it is supplied to you.

On a positive note it is fantastic to see how the more local supply chains e.g. veg box suppliers, bakers and local stores are suddenly back in fashion and long may this last, hooray for local and I just hope we all continue to support them when life returns to the new normal.

Look after yourselves and your neighbour’s and for those of you with more time on your hands, here is a list of my favourite agricultural related pod casts, go on try one they are quite inspiring:

Rock and Roll Farming – interviews with inspiring farmers.

Farming Today – Daily insight into farming.

Future of Agriculture – ideas that might shape the agriculture in the future.

Will Brock