There’s something lovely about a field such as this. It’s comforting because it’s tame, peaceful because it’s not wild, with nothing distinctive about it. It shows nature however, and is correspondingly attractive.

I’m no fan of farmers and farming and didn’t see why, for example, they were privileged with the foot and mouth epidemic when they caused it. The tourist trade took a massive blow. I couldn’t walk the Lake District alongside thousands of others. The farmers felt bad about the culling, they said, but send healthy animals for slaughter and find that acceptable because it makes them money.

There are historic tensions between land owning farmers and walkers. This culminated, at one time and place, with the Kinder Protest. It’s a myth that farmers preserve the countryside. Lake District sheep keep the grass short but farming practices are associated with loss of flowers, wildlife, and soil health which might never be recovered. In Scotland, birds are bred for weekend killing parties and raptors are killed illegally. Reduce the farming and the British countryside would be wilder and better populated. Not so long ago the flora and fauna in Scotland was astonishingly rich. There’s not much left of it.

I don’t see why farming is subsidised when it’s a business like any other. Drive a long distance, from Manchester for example to Kent, and you pass through a vast farming economy which represents badly needed space in a badly over crowded island. Animals are inefficient land use compared to the food yield of crops. We need crops. We don’t have to eat dead animals.

Those are hard edged ideas. In more simple terms I like the photographic aesthetic of agricultural fields and the harmony they represent. There are fields surprisingly close to Manchester, a few miles away in Cheshire and on the outskirts of Altrincham. There’s a field at Styal I like very much with a huge oak tree in the corner, and long views to distant hills. I’ve tried photographing the field but it’s one of those places you enjoy physically, even visually, but not photographically. There’s a great deal of farming in Cheshire. Kent however is described, with good reason, as the Garden of England.

 

Kent Photography: Darenth Valley Fields

Tuesday May 19, 2015