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Pastoral Song: A Farmer's Journey

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The main thrust I think of the author’s arguments is captured in this compromise. At its worse this seems to be rather resentful of both sides: he seems to share equal dislike for the world of neo-liberal free-trade and globalised economics (economists in particular seem to be his rather odd bête noire) and for left-wing extremists (George Monbiot is not named in the book but the two seem to have a history of opposition). But more commonly he argues against entrenched positions (that farmers are either all bad or all good) and bifurcation (for example colleges which turn out either economics focused MBA farmers or nature loving ecologists but without ever bringing the two into dialogue).

Pastoral Song: A Farmer’s Journey - Country Guide Pastoral Song: A Farmer’s Journey - Country Guide

One of the hardest aspects to understand in how farming affects nature,” says Rebanks, “is that there is often a time lag between cause and effect.” The post-war cult of cheap food soon began to create immense pressures on the farms and fields from which that food came, forcing farmers to “search for every productivity gain possible.” Rebanks realized that farming had been reduced to a “financial and engineering (against nature) challenge rather than understood as a biological activity.” This intimate and moving book is timely and relatable. ... With a critical and curious eye, he asks of himself—and society at large—what does it mean to be a “good” farmer?" — Civil EatsRemarkable…A brilliant, beautiful book…Eloquent, persuasive and electric with the urgency that comes out of love." - Sunday Times (UK)

Summary and reviews of Pastoral Song by James Rebanks Summary and reviews of Pastoral Song by James Rebanks

Nostalgia (which broadly is the author’s reflections on his Grandfather’s more traditional approach to farming around 40 years ago in an already changing era – his Grandfather a late resister to the changes around him) Perhaps related to this the solutions the book puts forward does seem to focus on a particular type of farm – highland, small scale which I cannot relate to many farms I know – and I suspect the upcoming book from the head of Conservation on the Holkham estate will be of much greater interest to me (see for example this New Yorker article https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20...)The demise of family farms means that there are fewer and fewer people living in rural areas and that is why communities are dying on the vine and why there are fewer houses and trees – and it is also why I feel no attachment to the place where I lived from age five to age twenty-one. Today, there are no buildings or trees or any evidence that anyone has ever lived on it; it’s just 160 acres of dirt that belongs to a corporation. This was a great follow-up to other books I’ve been reading recently about environmentalism and long-term thinking, such as Losing Eden (which, similarly, took inspiration from Silent Spring) and The Good Ancestor, and should attract readers of Wilding by Isabella Tree. I hope it will go far in next year’s Wainwright Prize race.

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