The Land That Made Us, edited by Christine Gregory and Sheila Hine, is the story of eighty years of farming in the South West Peak District. It is told through the words of local farmers and land managers, many of whom have lived and farmed in this often challenging landscape for generations.
The South West Peak is a lesser-known part of the Peak District stretching from Lyme Park in Cheshire in the north to Onecote in Staffordshire in the south, and from Macclesfield in the west to Buxton in the east. This landscape area includes tracts of high moorland, fertile valleys, wooded cloughs, picturesque villages and tiny hamlets. The farmers of the South West Peak are the people who have made the landscape what it is today, and it is their personal accounts of working in this often challenging land that form the basis of The Land That Made Us. Edited by local author Christine Gregory and dairy farmer Sheila Hine, and published in partnership with the Farming Life Centre and the Peak District National Park Authority with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, this book includes the testimony of over twenty farmers, and it is illustrated with photographs of them and their farming landscapes. We hear stories from across the generations of heroic endeavour in difficult terrain, as well as accounts of day-to-day work and family life spanning eighty years of farming history. The land had been farmed in traditional ways for centuries, but the Second World War changed that, and in succeeding years politics and increasing mechanisation have constantly rewritten the rule book for farmers. There is pride in achievement as well as frustration at the often conflicting demands of food production and wildlife conservation. The Land That Made Us asks what makes for sustainability in the short and the long term. The future of this landscape and of the farming communities that sustain it hangs in the balance, and it is the farmers’ turn to reflect on their past and speculate about the future.
Christine Gregory is a writer, photographer and painter. Having taught social and political studies in adult and community education for over 20 years, she went on to teach radio skills and print journalism in further education. She has made community-based radio programmes for BBC Radio Sheffield and features for BBC Radio 4, although now concentrates full time on writing, painting and photography. She lives in the Derbyshire Dales of the Peak District where she has been following, studying and photographing brown hares in their natural habitat for several years. This book, Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales, first publishing in 2010, is the result of a life-long love of the countryside and a personal concern for the environment.
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