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Living Off the Land

1st January 2018

Living Off the Land

Breakfast Cereal, Bacon, Eggs, Butter, Milk, Cheese, Lamb, Beef, Salmon, Ice Cream, Water, Whisky, Honey, Oils, Potatoes and Preserves have all been produced in Glendale for untold generations. The people of Glendale in North Northumberland have lived off the land, its valleys, hills, woods, rivers.   And not surprisingly, The Glendale Agricultural Society have decided that their major focus and theme for this year will be “Living off the Land”.

Through a range of initiatives, they will demonstrate, and enjoy the various ways that local people have made a living and harvested the produce and fruits of the amazing and varied countryside of Glendale.

One of the high points of this celebration will be the annual Children’s Countryside Day, where the theme “Living off the Land” will be explored, as well the many different crops and produce that have been harvested in the rolling landscape Glendale.  Other initiatives being considered as part of this theme include specialist classes at the Glendale Show, a Glendale picnic and “Living of the Land” themed event.  There will also be a focus on farmers and producers who sell their products and produce across the UK and beyond.

Giving background to this Rachael Tait Secretary of the Glendale Agricultural Society and Events Manager said: “The Children’s Countryside Day provides the perfect platform for children to marvel and meet the makers, as they talk to the people who grow and harvest their food and see the machinery that helps them do it. We will have them all on display, and each child will have the chance to meet the farmers and producers, to see their animals, and to learn, at their very own “harvest festival” how where their food comes from, who produces it and they can get involved.”

“Vegetables too have become familiar fare the Glendale fields and we can delight in the rows and rows of potatoes that form another of the staples of our diet – and the huge crops of peas the carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and turnips that form the healthier side of our mealtime platefuls.”

“The Society is dedicated to supporting our farmers and producers and educating the winder public as to where their food comes from. In terms of education the Glendale areas is one of the UK’s finest and most productive food producing areas, whether it be animals or crops, or the wild habitats of fowls and fishes, there is certainly no better place to set up a “classroom in the country”!

Our farmers have all been tremendous producers of a wide range of wholesome foods. Over the years they have filled our larders with vegetables, fruits, corn, milk, and meats of many kinds and catches have come from the rivers Tweed, Till.  This is not to mention the bee and gamekeepers who have sweetened our teatimes or given us game for supper.

Grain and Cereals are the foundations of many people’s diets – and these were among the first crops to be farmed. Descended from the wild grasses that still flourish in the hills, these have become the basis of many foodstuffs we enjoy – whether its bread, beer, biscuits breakfast cereal or cake! Grown on a large scale in Glendale, the cereal crops are vital feedstuffs for both humans and the animals that also share the countryside.

Jams and pickles enjoy a vigorous life in our kitchens and farm shops – all made locally, from trees and local hedgerows. What is made on both a small and a large scale is honey - from that most productive of country labourers – the bee. A vital part of local ecology – for the bee not only produces the honey for our tables, but also pollinates a wide variety of flowering trees and plants, thus ensuring their productiveness in turn.

Cattle and sheep have been the familiar occupants of our hills and fields, ever since we ceased to be hunter-gatherers and chose to raise and grow our own animals and crops. Today, the hills owe their appearance and productivity to generations of shepherds who have tended there sheep like family members, and supplied our butchers with tasty lamb, and our textile industry with high quality wool for garments and carpets. The Glendale cattle range from the famous White Cattle, which illustrate the kinds of beast farmers, first brought in from the wild, to the many successful breeds that give us meat and dairy products.

And of course, dairy products are themselves a reason to thank Glendale. No longer the massive industry it used to be, our remaining dairy herds still “punch above their weights” and combined with the inventive talents of their owners produce world beating cheeses and ice creams, often using flavours from other local producers and manufacturers. The milkers and makers will be on hand to demonstrate the products that all of us enjoy to taste.

Glendale also borders, one of the world’s most renowned Salmon fishing rivers the River Tweed, and the Salmon and Sea Trout, like the river itself is some of the best in the world.

Not all produce has a past – and one of the most familiar sights in the countryside does not go back beyond the 1980s. Many children and most adults will be familiar with the yellow fields of oilseed rape that almost seem to be our only crop in late spring. Careful breeding techniques have produced a plant that is now so versatile it is hard to imagine how we could do without it. Whether it is an oil for cooking, as biodiesel for our cars, or as a food for livestock, oilseed rape is one more way we get a living off the land of Glendale, and how it goes on giving us the food all of us need to live healthily.

The story of the food we make and live by will be told by those who grow and care for it, at the Countryside Day, and the many other events that the Glendale Agricultural Show is responsible for during the farming year, 2018.