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The Running Hare: The Secret Life of Farmland

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Industrial farming has succeeded in turning turn fields into open roofed factories. Copious amounts of fertiliser and weed killers have decimated the natural environment. Plants, birds and animals that were once common sights in the countryside are now very rare or no longer exist. The fields are now only able to support the growing crop.

Englightening and stylish...Readers who enjoyed the author’s last book, Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field, will find much in the same vein here: a mix of agricultural history, rural lore, topographical description and childhood memories. I learned a good deal.... Lewis-Stempel is a fine stylist, adroitly conjuring scenes in which “medieval mist hangs in the trees” or “frost clenches the ground”..." (Sara Wheeler Observer) Happiness can truly be enhanced by soil - scientists at the University of Bristol report that a specific soil bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae activates a set of serotonin releasing neurones in the dorsal raphe nucleus of the brain - the same ones targeted by Prozac. So your mood can genuinely lift, just form working with, or walking over soil. He has written on a range of subjects from Native Americans to fatherhood, but specialises in military history and natural history under his family name. He is a former columnist for The Sunday Express (for which he still writes features), and currently a columnist for Country Life and The Times. His Times column, Nature Notebook, focuses on both nature and farming across the UK. [2]Shortlisted for the Richard Jefferies Society White Horse Bookshop Prize 2016. John Lewis-Stempel was winner of the Thwaites Wainwright Prize 2015 for MEADOWLAND. Our food is full of flavour, created and served by chefs who love what they do. We believe that great tastes should be at the heart of every meal, and we strive to bring you a menu that reflects the preferences of the whole family. From traditional roasts, to more modern options, healthy eaters to vegetarians, there’s plenty on our menu to satisfy everyone.

The diary form of The Running Hare facilitates impressionistic and spontaneous prose as the rural year unfurls. Problems queue up for recognition, of course, but Lewis-Stempel ploughs on (sorry), sowing, among other things, to encourage the eponymous hare. And the animal comes. “Have hares, have our national landscape.”


In terms of how to best work with the land and Nature, we are in safe hands. The author is knowledgable, wise and experienced in this regard, representing the human-hand needed to tend and enhance natural environments where Nature is free to thrive without interference. He sows the small field by hand. He also sows wide margins of wildflowers, to replicate the way fields had existed in the days before mechanical reaping and sowing, and lays out tables of seed to entice the birds. He uses no chemicals on his fields, and when he reaps he bundles the wheat into old-fashioned sheaves.

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