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"We all learnt a great deal about Farming - it helped the children to understand the idea of Farming more. A real hands on experience!"

By Reading School Year 4 teacher



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24 May 2022

    Bluebells at Rushall Farm I first met...


October 2019

October 2019

22 Oct 2019

Lindsay and I met at Reading University in 1967.  We were both studying Agriculture.  Four years later we got married and Lindsay worked for the University Farms presenting data and I became assistant farm manager on one of those farms, Churn Estates.  My experience of large-scale arable farming was very limited, so with cereals, potatoes, peas and sugar beet to harvest, as well a huge industrial machine to dry lucerne and a lot of pigs and sheep, it was all quite a challenge.

There were fourteen of us on the payroll including Arthur, the fitter, who was an East German and had been imprisoned on the farm during the war but then married a Blewbury girl.  It was often the case that I arrived back in the yard having been tasked with a relatively simple tractor operation, with a bent bit of machinery trailing behind. Arthur, short with a grubby green boiler suit on, would shout in broken English “Hey lofty, I don’t reckon you can see straight”. At the time I felt mildly hurt but he was right, and the evidence included the bent land rover parked in an 80 acre field backed into by a lorry on corn cart and the old chestnut of driving out of the grain store with the trailer still tipped.

From where we lived, we could see Didcot Power Station with the steam billowing from the six cooling towers creating clouds in the sky.  It opened in 1968, used 3.7 million tonnes of coal a year and 13 million gallons of water a day, and closed in 2013. There are now just four plants operating in the UK using coal and these will be phased out by 2025. That was almost the extent of the good news at a Panel Discussion entitled “Climate Change: What Can We Do?” organised by Ros McBain and Holly Hutchins at Bradfield College. One hundred students crowded into Big School to discuss the problem with Lois Ryan a 17 year old climate activist and striker, Julie Mindlin a PH.D student studying climate change at Reading University and myself.  I was so impressed with the seriousness of the discussion and the questioning of the panel.  Lois is at school at St Bartholomew’s and has radically altered her approach to life as a result of the leading of Greta Thunberg.  She uses a bike for transport, has greatly reduced the amount of meat she eats, has persuaded her parents that holidays abroad are not the only way to relax and enjoy life, and is very careful about plastics. She was also organising the school strike to happen between 11 and 12-30 in Newbury the following Friday. These young people are really frightened about the future of this planet. Holly and Rosa are doing something about it. Are we?7

John Bishop