Countryfile looks at how food is harvested, from large-scale crops for supermarket shelves to smaller hand-picked harvests for local markets.
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Across the country, the race is on to bring in the harvest.
Acres of crops, mountains of veg,
It's one of the busiest times in the farming year,
when farmers and growers reap the rewards
of all their hard labour.
And all the while, keeping an eye on the weather.
In this celebration of harvest,
Margherita meets a farmer keen to prove that no salad
should be without the humble British radish.
It's full of vitamin C, potassium,
folic acid, iron.
And one radish, one calorie.
-Pick me a bunch!
I see how ancient grains are being used
to make a thoroughly modern drink.
Just look at that.
They get a lot of bad press,
but Tom is finding out about the wonder of wasps.
It's proven that if you've got a wasp nest in your garden
all those classic garden pests, all their numbers are severely reduced.
You're beginning to talk me round here.
Come on, we've got a live nest up here.
And with the big event just a few weeks away,
Adam meets the first contenders
hoping to be crowned this year's One Man and His Dog champions.
How important is it, this One Man and His Dog competition?
If you've got a competition between England, Scotland,
Ireland and Wales, there's always... You know, you want to win.
It's quite a big thing.
It's harvest time the length and breadth of Britain.
Beyond the teeming hedgerows, farmers battle with the weather
to reap what they've so carefully sown.
Around 25 million tonnes of grain
are being gathered in, as well as vegetable crops and fruit.
Food that will grace the plates of the nation.
And here, just east of Oxford,
and deep in arable country, I'm visiting a farm
where they approach harvest time in their own very special way.
Whilst combines eat up the acres elsewhere,
here at Sandy Lane Farm, Charles and Sue Bennett
work on a more modest scale.
As well as cereals, they grow smaller-scale organic crops
and use people power to bring them in.
How has the harvest been this year?
Well, it's been fantastic, John.
Really, really good.
We had a slow, cold spring,
but things have come back and we're, instead of two weeks behind,
I think we're two weeks ahead.
And there is so much rain and so much sun, everything is growing...
I mean, you see it - it's amazing.
What made you go organic?
It's a small farm and there was no way I could compete
with the big guys on 100 acres growing cereal,
which is what this farm used to be.
So we played around just growing carrots and things,
and they did so well - we've got some lovely soil here -
and we just went on from there, really.
So we've been organic for a good 25 years.
And where does all this produce go?
Well, we manage to sell it pretty much locally.
Within ten miles or so, there's so many people wanting organic stuff.
We all seem to run out, the whole town.
We can never have enough stuff.
It all goes, and we eat quite well, too.
A wonky bean - will that be all right?
Sure, yeah. We don't go out of our way to grow wonky beans,
but people actually like them because it shows it's natural
and that every bean is different, like we're all different,
and people appreciate that.
-So every bean counts? BOTH:
-Every bean counts.
It's all hands to the pumps if they are to keep their customers
in Oxfordshire supplied with their organic veg.
Here, three generations get stuck in.
Alongside the traditional carrots, beans and spuds,
Sue and Charles' son, George,
has introduced something a little bit more exotic.
What have you got here, then?
Well, this is the salad tunnel.
This is where we put the real flavour into our salad bags.
We've got lots of different colours and flavours in here.
-There's some quite unusual things, as well.
-What's this here, then?
This is actually an Italian vegetable called barba di frate,
or l'agretti. It's a bit like samphire.
Not quite as salty as samphire.
But you just flash boil it in a pan
and it's got a beautiful, crunchy, slightly salty taste.
Yeah, it has. So what else?
Well, we've got nasturtium flowers.
Lovely and peppery.
We put those in the salad bags, as well.
Not just for decoration?
No. They taste good, but also they're really colourful.
What's this purple thing here?
This is purple shiso - it's a Japanese herb.
We are trying to bring sort of Japanese and Italian...
Flavours from abroad into a British salad?
-Is that the idea?
I like this one.
And how difficult is it to grow all these things?
Uh... A bit of trial and error.
They do require a lot more care and maintenance
than the field-scale vegetables.
We've gone from growing about 20 different crops to well over 300.
And to have such variety on our plates every day is fantastic.
There's one crop on the farm that's more tolerated than encouraged.
But looking around your fields, Sue,
you've got an awful lot of what many farmers don't have -
you've got a lot of weeds.
We do, we do.
This time of year, it's not a problem
because the plants are already grown.
-So the weeds are no threat, really?
-So they're not a threat.
And some weeds we can feed to the pigs.
-What's this one?
-This is fat hen...
-..which is obviously good for hens.
-And it's related to the quinoa that grows...
-..in the Andes.
-Well, you've got a lot of fat hen here.
how many pigs have you got?
We've got...hmm, about 40.
So I suppose this is weeds being put to a really good use?
VOICEOVER: Sue's weeds may not cut the mustard in some quarters,
but they're packed with nutrients
and save money on conventional pigfeed.
-They love fat hen, don't they?
-It's very good for them.
So they get fed on weeds, and what else?
Yeah, they love the leafy vegetables.
They don't like onions or fennel.
It's using everything.
-Making sure nothing goes to waste, basically, on the farm?
Closing the circle.
And we can't forget Dad.
The last bit of fat hen for Billy.
There you are. Enjoy.
Beyond the pig pens,
the Bennetts produce a rather unusual crop -
an ancient grain only grown in Oxfordshire.
And later, I'll be shown how it's turned into a one-of-a-kind gin.
Yet another of the many reasons to celebrate at harvest time.
Well, farmers aren't the only ones busy out of doors
at this time of year.
Wasps are out and about, interrupting picnics,
buzzing around our food, stinging us -
no wonder they're one of Britain's most unpopular insects.
But have we got them wrong?
We've all experienced that feeling
of being besieged by wasps on a hot summer's day.
For most of us, they're a little bit annoying.
For some, they can be a serious health risk.
But before you reach for the swat,
perhaps you should ask yourself a question -
how much do we really know about wasps?
Well, very little, really.
even our scientists admit to huge gaps in our knowledge.
So where can I find out more?
At University College London, I've come to just one
of a handful of labs that focuses on wasps...
..where Dr Seirian Sumner is on a self-confessed mission
to spread love for them around the world.
We know so much about bees - people generally know a lot about them -
why do we know so little about wasps?
Well, I think it comes down to the general dislike of them.
And the dislike of wasps is unfounded,
but it all comes down to this one type of wasp -
these social wasps, the yellow jackets that we get.
So here is a queen and a worker.
So it's normally the workers that you'll see
bothering you at your picnics.
They are very much the underappreciated insect.
We know a huge amount about bees.
We don't really understand much about the role of wasps
in the environment.
But what we do know is that they are important predators.
So we need to know a little bit more about that.
There's so much that isn't known about wasps,
from just how many there are to what they're eating.
We do know, though,
in the UK, there's a huge variety of species.
The social wasps, we get around about eight species,
but there are several thousand species of parasitic wasps.
The parasitic wasps are the tiny little ones
that look generally like flies.
And I'd certainly never dreamt of this one...
So this is a spider-hunting wasp.
We do actually get these types in the UK.
-Sorry, I've never heard of that before...
-..I'm just liking the name.
Some people maybe hate spiders
even more than wasps, so there are wasps that kill spiders -
-how good is that?
-I don't know if I am learning to love wasps any more,
but I'm certainly getting a fascination for them
having seen all this, which is absolutely brilliant.
Yeah, they've got an incredible biodiversity
which we really underappreciate.
Wasps are every bit as complex
and fascinating as bees and face the same threats from insecticides,
land use and climate change,
but they don't have beekeepers trying to protect them...
But why should WE care?
What have wasps ever done for us?
I really love wasps.
I mean, what is there not to like about them?
Someone who's been mad about bugs since he was a boy
and is hoping to convert all of us
is naturalist and TV presenter Nick Baker.
Well, just at the basic aesthetic level, they are stunning insects.
They're beautiful. But if you want to look at sort of,
you know, pragmatic reasons to like them,
they are superb pollinators, for example.
So early-season fruits,
quite a lot of our wild flowers - if you like your daffodils,
they are almost solely pollinated by wasps. That's really important.
And there is another reason that gardeners should love them,
which is pest control.
They will systematically work your garden.
So I've got an allotment
and it's occasionally plagued by various pests -
-I should welcome a wasp nest?
-You certainly should.
I mean, they're brilliant. It's proven that if you've
got a wasp nest in your garden, all those classic garden pests,
all their numbers are severely reduced.
You're beginning to talk me round here.
Come on, we've got a live nest up here.
So we can get quite close, as long as we don't
get in the way of the flight paths.
-I'm standing behind you.
-I'd noticed that, yeah.
Are we safe to be this close?
Wasps will not go out their way to sting you,
despite the stories, the horror stories, that we often hear.
It's an expensive thing to do because they have to
make the venom inside their own bodies.
The most dangerous thing here
-is actually the brambles and the thistles.
If the brambles and thistles weren't here, I could lie right next
to the entrance hole and the wasp would go right past.
If I changed and stood in front of it, then I would be in trouble.
Standing to one side will avoid aggravating a nest,
but I'd still recommend you give them a wider berth.
Most of their nests are out of sight, underground or in trees,
so you don't normally get to see just how amazing they are.
These wasps are recycling deadwood fibre.
And you may be familiar with seeing wasps scraping fence posts
or even your garden furniture.
What they're doing is harvesting the wood fibres,
mixing it with wasp saliva,
then taking it back to the nest and laying it down.
And you can see each stripe of colour there
represents a different source of deadwood.
Inside, there's lots of layers, like a cake,
and you've got those lovely hexagonal cells.
Inside there, the egg would be laid
and the grub will spend its entire life
until it emerges as an adult wasp.
At this time of year, as nests start to die off,
there are no more grubs to feed
and the worker wasps have very little to do.
What we're seeing now is all these sort of out-of-work workforce,
effectively, and they're basically
just going out and having a good time.
They're going for sweet stuff,
they're making a little bit of a pain of themselves.
And that's when they become a little bit irritating to us?
Yes, and that's when we tend to notice them.
Gathering data on these redundant wasps is where you come in,
with a brand-new citizen science project.
Love them or hate them,
there's no doubt that wasps play a big part both in our gardens
and beyond, so I'm surprised that so little is known about them.
And that's why we need your help.
This is your chance to contribute to the first-ever national wasp survey.
The Big Wasp Survey is the brainchild
of Dr Seirian Sumner at UCL
and the University of Gloucestershire.
It will take a snapshot of their populations
across the country over the next seven days.
You can get involved in your own back garden, and here's how.
So what do you want people to do for The Big Wasp Survey?
We'd like them to make a very simple wasp trap
and hang it up in their garden, and then send us their wasps.
OK, so how do we do that?
Well, all you need is a bottle.
And what we're going to do is we're going to cut the top off...
..to make two small, little holes.
And then we get a bit of string.
That's just going through that crack, is it?
Yeah, exactly -
you just tie it through that crack.
Put your funnel back in the top.
About half a can of lager in the bottom,
so about 200ml.
-That's ready to go? The wasps...
-That's all you need to do.
-..should be flooding in?
-They will flood into that.
So wasps ARE going to die in the name of science -
does that bother you at all?
Not really, because the wasps that we're capturing in these traps
are the workers, and they are not going to reproduce.
And the colonies at the beginning of September
are very much at the end of their life.
So the wasps are going to die in a couple of weeks anyway.
The impact that these traps are going to have
on wasp populations will be negligible.
So why do you want people to actually trap wasps?
Particularly in the UK, we know that we have eight species,
but we have very little information on where they are in the country.
And we hope to be able to build a map of species abundance
across the UK for the different social wasps.
There we go. Ours is done, it's over to you.
Now, if, like me, you've ever been stung by a wasp,
you know it really hurts.
But, for some people, it can actually be fatal.
So if you're tempted to join in The Big Wasp Survey,
here's some really important safety advice.
The trap will attract wasps
so make sure you hang it in a spot away from people and pets,
and be aware of your neighbours' spaces, too.
Make sure your funnel is not touching the liquid in the trap,
as this would allow the wasps an escape path.
To minimise the risk from live wasps in the trap,
empty it later in the evening when wasps are no longer active.
And if you see movement in your trap, leave it a further 12 hours.
Use a sieve to collect the wasps and wrap them in foil...
..then, freeze to ensure they are dead before handling them.
Even a dead wasp's sting still contains venom,
so wear rubber gloves to ensure safe handling.
Now, it's very important,
if you have any doubt or history of allergies,
then just don't take part.
You can find full safety details on our website,
along with where to send your wasps.
You've got the next seven days to do it,
and full results will be online from next year.
The more of you that take part, the more we can learn
about a creature that maybe we should consider our friend,
not our foe.
One of the busiest areas at harvest time is East Anglia,
where Margherita is on the hunt for a salad staple.
The Fens of Norfolk.
A flat landscape reclaimed from the sea, tamed and drained by man.
Endless acres of farmland so fertile
the Fens have often been described as one giant growbag.
And it's all down to this - peat.
And it's helped one crop thrive in this part of the country -
the little red radish.
It is said that the radish was once so prized it was given as wages
to ancient Egyptian labourers building the pyramids.
Today, though, this humble vegetable
has been relegated to nothing more than a bit on the side.
But believe it or not, this vegetable grows
eight metres below sea level here.
And it goes from this tiny seed to this
in just 25 days.
Not only are they speedy growers,
they're also the first of our salad vegetables to be ready to pick.
It's what attracted Scott Watson,
who left his Scottish sheep farm for a life of veg in Norfolk.
-So, Scott, you're thriving here...
-..the radish are thriving here...
..what is it about this soil they love so much?
Its ability to hold moisture in really dry conditions,
but it is also free-draining in really extreme weather conditions.
So if I got that in my garden centre,
-I'd be paying a fair whack for that?
-Yeah, you would.
-That's literally black gold.
It also gives radish a beautiful skin finish.
There's no stones, very smooth.
It's really, really, really good.
-You can see the really smooth skin.
-It's, like, glowing with health, isn't it?
-It is, absolutely.
And, radish, it's not just for the summer season and salads?
I would know, radish has huge health benefits.
It's full of vitamin C, potassium,
folic acid, iron.
It's really, really healthy.
-So a little nugget of pure health?
-Little nugget of pure health, yeah.
And one radish, one calorie.
-Pick me a bunch!
And Scott tells me that the hotter the weather, the hotter the radish.
-Is that going to be quite peppery, or...
-That'll be fairly peppery,
-I would think, yeah.
-It's going to have a kick to it?
And how much would you be harvesting in a good week?
In a good week, in a strong week this year,
we've harvested up to 400 tonnes... in a strong week.
We'll average about 280 tonnes at this time of year, so...
400 tonnes, I'm guessing you're not picking that all by hand?
No, no, we've got a specialised big boys' toy for that.
There's one bit of kit that's Scott's pride and joy...
..a modified potato harvester...
..and I'm getting to ride shotgun.
-I'll leave you in Sam's capable hands.
As the harvest begins, I've got a front-row seat.
From here, you can see just how the cushioned belt gently shakes
the radishes as they move up,
ensuring that they don't get scuffed.
It's amazing to see how this huge machine handles
such a tiny crop to prevent damage.
It is incredible how these machines have been designed down to the
tiniest detail to ensure that farmers like Scott
can not only harvest on a gigantic scale,
but the food that they bring us arrives on our plates
in perfect condition.
From washing down tonnes of freshly cut radishes...
..to sorting and grading...
..nearly 1.5 million packs are processed each week.
Packing manager Andrei Kostukovich is showing me how it's done.
So how much is technology helping you on this production line?
Yeah, the technology is key because
the sales goes up and up on the radish.
It's growing every year.
Without technology, we would never achieve
what we're achieving in the moment.
This year, by putting additional line, and improved line,
we are actually able to achieve these volumes.
The belt is well-designed to actually make sure
that radish rotates.
So you can see from all the sides. It's not a flat belt.
So when I find a damaged radish
and it's going in this waste shoot, where does that go?
It goes to the... Back to the field
as a fertiliser for the future crops.
As well, we have got our electric EG plant,
which we put a load there to mix with other products
to create an energy for this place.
Technology makes sure that nothing is wasted from the radish harvest.
Once they have made the grade,
they are packed and labelled
before being boxed up and shipped out to the supermarket shelves.
From seed to salad in less than a month.
I've seen how they're harvested.
Now, it's time to sample the goods.
-We'll have a wee cup of tea, I think.
-Oh, thanks for that.
And what's this about Scott's way of eating radish?
What's the...? What's your recipe?
Well, my preference is a little bit of oil,
a bit of vinegar, and a bit of salt.
I hope you like it.
-Oil, vinegar and salt?
-And salt, yeah.
That's probably the number of ingredients I can cope with
-in any dish.
-I think so, on any one day.
Where shall I start? Which one?
-Anywhere you like.
-Lovely. Fresh from the field.
-Mind if I have another?
-No, help yourself.
I'll try them all.
I think I might eat you out of house and home here.
Please try...by all means.
The humble radish is often considered just a bit on the side.
But after my time here today, I think this is one little crop
to add real sass to your salad drawer.
In a few weeks' time, top shepherding talent
from all our four nations will gather together for just one day,
and they'll be battling it out
to be crowned Countryfile One Man and His Dog champions.
And Adam has been to meet the first of our contenders.
Over the next two weeks, I will be checking in on the shepherding teams
preparing for one of sheepdog trialling's
most prestigious titles - Countryfile's One Man and His Dog.
First stop is Team England, where pride is most definitely at stake
as the reigning champions do battle to retain their title.
And down in Dartmoor is the singles competitor Jed Watson
with his dog, Zac.
Apart from a handful of years, I've been on Dartmoor most of my life.
It's a place you love.
It gets into you. It's infectious.
Dartmoor can be hard working country for dogs.
The terrain falls away
and there is so much hidden ground that you can't see.
And these sheep what run here 12 months of the year
know every little nook and cranny that they can drop down into.
That's why you've got to have a dog looking and thinking for itself.
Having worked with dogs from a young age,
Jed knows exactly what he's looking for.
I've been training dogs since I was a boy.
I started with me father.
Seemed to get on better with dogs than anything else, to be honest.
I have 15 dogs at the moment.
It sounds a lot, but the work is demanding.
I'm always looking to keep a good flow of dogs through.
It keeps me training, and I don't get lazy
and keep using the older dog what I know can do it.
You've got to take the youngster,
and he gets the experience to do the work from what he's bred to do.
With so many dogs, Jed is spoilt for choice,
but it's champion Zac he'll be running with on the day.
Zac, what makes him different?
He has won a tremendous lot of trials for me.
He was the top driving nursery dog in the West Country.
Then, he went on and won the biggest accolade he could
in the English National.
I got left with him.
Nobody wanted him as a two-year-old dog.
But I've worked hard with him,
and kept polishing and polishing him,
and he has come right.
Zac's a dog Jed believed in when no-one else would.
He is convinced they could be a winning combination
for this competition.
15 years ago, a good farm dog could do both,
but now you've got to have a little bit more in a tiptop trial dog
than just a farm dog.
When I walk to that post, I want to win.
But Jed and Zac are only half the story.
300 miles north, in Lancaster, is Jed's team-mate...
..and he will be showing off a skill that's a first for Countryfile's
One Man and His Dog.
He'll be using not just one dog, but two.
And it's a common practice up here in the hills.
And in competition, it's known as the brace.
I've come to meet brace competitor Tom Huddlestone as he gathers
sheep off the moor,
not with one, but two dogs,
called Ola and Nessy.
Shepherding often relies on teamwork.
And with big jobs like this,
a gang of shepherds often come together to help out.
-I've caught you at a busy time.
-Just looks like it, yes, yes.
Very busy. I'm tired, the dogs are tired.
-So what's going on here, then?
-We're just bringing the sheep
down from the fell and we're bringing them down
into the pens around the farm to separate the lambs from the sheep.
-They're weaning them.
-And who have you got here, then?
This is Ness, that's Ola,
and they're half brother and sister.
And how old is Ness?
Ness is about two-and-a-half, something like that.
-He's about five.
-So can I help? Pop down to the road and turn them the right way?
If you turn them the right way down there on the road,
make sure they head back to the farm, not towards Lancaster...
-..that would be really useful.
Right, no pressure. Hope I get that right. OK.
OK, thanks. I'll send my dog.
Sheep like this have been living out on these hills for generations
and know that this is the way home.
Tom's got two cracking dogs in Ola and Nessy,
but what I'm keen to see is how they'll fare on a trial field.
So Tom's going to put them
through their paces to demonstrate brace handling.
-So I obviously don't understand those whistles...
-..but they're separate whistles for both dogs?
-And so your right-hand whistle for Ola?
And right for Ness?
You see, I get really confused just working one dog,
remembering my left and right.
But you're doing two commands for two dogs.
Yeah, and it's even more complicated when the sheep are coming toward you
cos then you have to turn it around in your head, as well.
It's like anything else, the more you practice,
the more, like working on the hill, it's easy.
You don't have to think about it, you know.
And what's different technically, then,
when you're working a brace rather than a single dog on a trial?
It's important that... Not just only that the sheep are moving
in the right direction,
but that both dogs are actually working the sheep together.
Doesn't mean they're always perfectly
symmetrical behind the sheep, what isn't acceptable is one dog
doing all the work and the other one just lying back and doing nothing.
There's a lot of pressure this year because England hold the title.
-Are you going to be able to retain it?
I've absolutely no idea, is the honest answer.
We'll do our best and if my little bitch runs well,
then probably everything's going to be all right.
The dog's very, very predictable,
the bitch is less, less predictable.
How do you fancy your chances?
I think I'll come at least fourth.
-Oh, well, good luck.
-It's been great to see you.
-Thank you, Andy. Thank you.
-All the best.
So, representing England from the north and the south west,
two shepherds miles apart, but with one common purpose.
Hoping to retain the One Man and His Dog title for England -
in the brace, Tom Huddleston with his dogs, Ola and Nessy.
And 2016 England Singles Champion,
Jed Watson, and his dog, Zac.
I am in Oxfordshire on the Bennett family farm,
a small-scale operation with big ambitions.
Alongside the usual produce grows a very special crop.
One not seen in British fields for more than a century.
Antique strains of rye are being used to make heritage gin
and taking it from grain to glass is distiller Tom Nicolson.
-Hello, John, please to meet you.
I see the combine has beaten me to it.
-Yeah, harvest waits for no man, I'm afraid.
All your rye has been gathered in from this field.
Yeah, this is the last field, as well, for us,
we've got around 100 acres all around Oxford
and this is the last one.
And what is so special about the rye that grows in fields like this?
All of this stuff is pre-1914, so all of those really
interesting grains are all part of what this field is made up of.
These grains from before the days of hybrids were
hunted down across the globe.
They're the remarkable survivors that predate
the techniques of modern industrial farming.
Here in Oxfordshire,
up to 40 strains were thrown together
to grow, cross pollinate and take their chances organically.
Does it taste differently from other rye?
Well, my feeling is that, yes, it does.
And it's very good for making gin.
It makes lovely gin.
It's believed that Tom's distillery
is the only one in the world using such ancient grains
to create spirits.
And I'll be seeing how it's done later on.
But now, a quick reminder.
Don't forget that voting in this year's Countryfile
photographic competition ends at midnight tonight,
so if you want to choose your favourite,
you can vote either online or by phone
and here are the all-important numbers.
If Winter Wanderers is your favourite, call...
To vote for A Little Love
dial the same number with O2 at the end.
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For Dandelion King, it's 06.
To opt for First Flight, you'll need to dial 07 at the end.
If Flutter By gets your vote, add 08.
For Dark Horse, it's 09.
If Caught Napping takes your fancy, add 10.
For Highland Majesty, add 11.
And, finally, for Leap Of Faith, add 12.
Calls cost 10p plus your network's access charge
and you can also vote free on our website.
The website also contains a full list of the photos and their phone
numbers, together with the terms and conditions for the competition.
And the vote closes at midnight tonight.
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Earlier, Adam met the English team hoping to
retain the title in this year's One Man and His Dog.
Now, he's heading north of the border
to meet the Scottish contenders.
Scotland's rugged mountains, vast lochs and sheltered glens.
It's in this ancient landscape that true grit is tested
and champions can be made.
This year's Scottish team hail from the southern part of the country
and are both national champions.
First up, I'm in Ayrshire meeting man-and-dog team
representing Scotland in the singles competition.
Neil Gillon and his dog, Sweep,
were 2016's Scottish national champions,
bringing the trophy back to Ayrshire
for the first time in more than 30 years.
I'm meeting Neil on one of the many farms he works
as a contract shepherd.
-Hi, how you doing?
-Good to see you.
-You've got to be fit working in these hills.
-Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
I'm all right, my quad's round the corner.
So you're contract shepherding on a number of different farms.
Yes, that's right.
On this farm, I'm looking after 650 breeding ewes
and just up the valley here, there's about 1,800 ewes.
So how do you have time for trialling?
Well, I don't really train my dogs for the trials,
they just usually come off their work Saturday morning
away to a trial and that's it.
I seem to get on OK doing that.
And when you're working with lots of different flocks,
does that help you, do you think?
I think it does because when you're working
with your own sheep all the time, you know them.
So when you go away to other sheep, they react different.
So it sharpens your mind up and sharpens the dog up, as well.
If they're a bit difficult, then you need to have sheep senses,
-we talk about.
-Yeah. So where are you heading with these?
We're just going to take them down to farm.
The lambs are getting big now, so they need to be off their mothers.
-So we'll just take them down.
-Well, I'll walk down with you.
Down on the farm, Neil's niece and grandchildren
are in the pens, ready to help herd the sheep.
So, Ross, tell me, how well do you think your grandad's going to
-get on in the One Man and His Dog competition?
-Do you think he might win?
And do you fancy working sheepdogs one day?
I think I might just be a footballer.
A bit more money in football.
-And do you think this One Man and His Dog competition
is quite important to him?
Yeah, I think it's really important to him.
And how do you fancy his chances?
I think his chances are high.
Sweep's a dog Neil's very proud of,
having brought him up and trained him from a pup.
He was a bit fiery in his early years,
but he's starting to settle down.
Is the clarity of that whistle very important?
Definitely is for the like of that dog, it's so keen.
If you try to do it too quiet and nice, you know,
he would miss a whistle.
You know, you've really got to be hard on your commands with him
-to keep him talking.
And how is he different to some of these trialling dogs that are,
you know, just used for trialling, rather than farm work?
With him, there's always a little bit of tension in the sheep.
He wants to push, he wants to come forward and the sheep know that.
The sheep are as good at reading dogs,
than dogs are at reading sheep.
Do you think the dog feels the pressure as much as you do
when you're in a competition?
I think maybe you put the pressure onto the dog.
If you're nervous,
then the dog gets a little bit uptight.
How important is it, this One Man and His Dog competition?
If you've got a competition
between England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, there's always...
You know, you want to win.
It's quite a big thing.
One Man and His Dog is, you know, famous the world over.
So to do well in it is a feather in your cap.
Yeah. And it's obviously with the England team at the moment.
Oh, we'll soon sort them out.
Well, I think he's a magnificent-looking dog
and you've certainly got him beautifully under control.
-You've got every chance.
-Cheers, thanks very much.
With Neil's cool head and Sweep's keen eye,
the Scots look ready to set the pace in a singles competition.
But of course, Neil and Sweep at only half of team Scotland.
The other half of the Scottish team is 140 miles north in Perthshire.
Glen Lyon, described by Sir Walter Scott
as the loveliest glen in Scotland.
It's also well-known for producing sheepdog trialling champions.
Two international winners live there.
One of whom is this year's brace competitor.
Hoping to bring the title back this year is Peter Martin
with his two bitches, sisters Jill and Jen.
Peter's something of a One Man and His Dog veteran,
appearing in 2010 when Scotland won the competition.
But he's not the only trialling champion in the family.
Two year ago, it was my son Stephen and me.
I won the Scottish National brace and he was second.
So a month later, we went to Dumfries for the international
and the places were completely changed,
he ended up being first and I was second.
I would say there was slight gloating out of it.
Peter works on an estate with 1,100 sheep
in some demanding, but stunning terrain.
It's a really lovely glen, Glen Lyon.
It's the longest glen in Scotland.
There's a lot of history.
It's not been a great summer, weather-wise.
The shearing's a bit behind schedule.
Because of the mist in the hills and the sheep being wet
and, everybody, we're at least two weeks behind.
Sisters Jill and Jen will be trialling in this year's brace.
Jill's the better of the two.
She loves dog trialling and she's faster and more obedient.
But Jen, she's the better working dog.
And that... Even though they're sisters,
they're completely different.
Jen. Stand. Stand.
They've got to get on with each other
and got to be a bit compatible.
They pair kind of work not too badly.
I think it's maybe cos they're sisters and they're the same age.
You've got to keep the momentum going,
you can't have one dog doing all the work and the other doing nothing.
The judges are going to take points off that
cos it's a brace and they've both got to work.
So will this sister act help Peter win a second
One Man and His Dog title for Scotland?
We'll just play it by ear on the day, do our best.
I'd be very, very happy if I did win it.
So there you have it -
representing team Scotland,
singles competitor Neil Gillon and his dog, Sweep.
And in the brace, sheep dog trialling veteran Peter Martin
with sisters Jill and Jen.
From fertile fields to fruitful orchards.
I'm in Kent.
This time of year, it's a landscape bursting with colour.
But alongside the traditional fruits,
there's a new crop ripe for the picking.
Here on one farm,
a touch of the Med has found its way to these fields here in Kent.
Where a family of traditional fruit growers
is trying their hand at something a little bit more exotic.
The Bardsleys have been filling the UK's fruit bowls with apples,
pears and plums for 125 years.
But a few years ago, they planted a trial orchard of apricot trees
that were specially developed for the UK climate.
After a career in the forces,
son Ben returned to work on the family farm.
And how did you as a family decide on apricots as your next crop?
-Is this a first?
-Well, we're one of the first.
Not THE first, but one of the first.
My father pioneered this seven years ago.
He conceived the idea with some partners of ours.
We approached one of the major retailers,
pitched them our idea and they loved it, so we then went about
finding the right site and I think that's the most important thing.
And were you confident that they could grow in Britain?
Because I always think apricots, Spain, France.
Yeah, it was a risk. It was a massive risk.
The weather trends said that it could work, but that's data on a
spreadsheet and not necessarily the actuals of actually growing fruit.
Which, at the best of times, is quite variable.
And how has it been going?
Last year, we had horrendous weather.
Didn't get the pollination and we had about a 10% apricot crop.
This year, we're back up to roughly 90-100%,
but we're really pleased with the quality and the colour this year.
So things are looking good?
They look good, but it's not yet done and we'll see.
Ask me in five years' time and we'll see what the verdict is on apricots.
But, as I say, we have a good chance of getting it right.
For now, though,
the apricots are making the most of this hillside location.
Basking in the summer sunshine.
It's like Costa Del Kent.
A perfect site for the fruit to flourish.
There are 6,000 apricots trees here in this orchard
and they'll produce two million apricots,
each of those hand-picked and checked on the spot.
Knowing how to grow an apricot in Britain takes some skill
and the success of this crop is very much down to the expertise
of Ben's dad, Nigel.
-Hello there, how are you?
-It's great to see you.
-Welcome to Kent.
-Oh, my goodness, this crop is stunning.
Well, I'm very pleased with them.
Sometimes you forget you're in Kent when you see this crop.
So beautiful, I can hardly take my eyes off it.
It didn't start like this, though.
No. We dreamt of having a crop like this seven years ago.
But it took a lot of research, a lot of visits to France.
And through all your research,
what did you discover about the perfect conditions
-to grow apricots in the UK?
-There were three areas.
We had to have free-draining ground,
we had to have a warm site,
so that's why we're on a south-facing slope
and it had to be frost-free.
Nigel, the colour of this harvest is amazing.
These apricots, the red against the orange.
-Is this a special variety?
But this is a variety that does colour up.
But because of our weather, our difference between temperatures
between day and night, it gives us a better red colour.
My mouth is literally watering just looking at these.
How do you know when they're ready to harvest?
We're looking at the orange background,
the redness and the size.
And if it's got a little give with it,
we can cut it open like this, I can give you that.
And I can have that. And a customer does this...
-Straight from the tree.
-And enjoy it.
-And some people have even said,
"I didn't know apricots actually tasted like this."
Yeah, it's sort of memories of how they used to taste.
That's right, that's right.
Pure sunshine, that.
-You'll be wanting another one, won't you?
I'm doing this the wrong way round - I should earn my reward.
So Nigel's showing me the tricks of the hand-picking trade.
I thought you might like to have a go at picking these.
So what you have to do is just twist them off, not pull them off,
And you just place them into the thing.
Then you get the occasional one
where you can see it's been cracked by rain.
-Rain's done that?
-Rain has done that.
So it's been cracked.
So that's no good, so we have to put them onto the floor.
-Just a simple twist?
When you're actually picking them, they're actually clicking off,
so you can hear the clicking, so they're coming off easy.
If they were really tough and pulling,
they wouldn't be ready, so you can see that by how they're picking.
And this crop today, Nigel, how much are you going to be harvesting?
I hope to harvest about eight or nine tonne today.
-Eight or nine tonnes?!
And how many would I be picking of those?
Not many, compared to what the picker is...
Flavius, come up.
That's nine kilos.
In the same time that I've done that much?
Yes. Thank you, Flavius.
So I got to work on the technique a little bit.
-You need to be a bit quicker.
Shall I help you?
I might need a lot of help.
I need to get working on my twist and click, I think.
And after a hand-picked harvest,
these juicy, ripe, ready-to-eat apricots
are heading to the farm's pack house where old meets new.
Over the years, the grading process has changed a lot here at the farm.
From being sorted and picked by hand,
the Bardsleys would send 200 crates a day to market.
But now with technology on their side,
the business delivers 10,000 crates
to supermarkets and wholesalers across the country.
When a hard day's work is done,
three generations of the Bardsley family
like to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
I enjoy your popping in.
There's three sorts.
For the Bardsleys, it's only their third apricot harvest,
but after a bumper year, it's looking hopeful that British
apricots could be a feature in our fruit bowls for many years to come.
Well, the weather's been perfect for picking apricots today,
but what does it have in store for the week ahead?
Here's your all-important Countryfile forecast.
Today, we're celebrating harvest across the country.
The culmination of our farmers' hard work, all year round.
A vast amount of the harvest feeds the nation,
but what about those crops that are used to make a little tipple?
I'm looking forward to this bit.
This distillery is one of only a handful in the UK
to produce its own industrial-strength spirit on site.
And it's thought to be the only one in the world
to use grains of heritage rye to do so.
Head alchemist is Tom Nicolson.
Well, Tom, what a wonderful old barn, isn't it?
-In a suburb of Oxford.
-Yeah, it's great.
It's an 18th-century threshing barn and it's very likely that the
rye that we use today was the same kind of rye they used back then.
And you actually mill the rye here, do you?
Yeah, we mill it in this 1950s English-made roller mill
that we found in a barn... A dusty old barn up in Bath.
Wow. You rescued it.
Yeah, lovingly restored and here we do the work.
Milling or grinding the grain on site is the first
stage of an impressive journey.
It creates a sort of rye porridge that distillers call mash.
It bubbles away in this extraordinary copper
contraction, custom made for Tom and master distiller Cory Mason.
Just look at that!
It does look like something out of Jules Verne, doesn't it?
Yeah, absolutely. Basically it's a big boiler.
In fact, the guy who rebuilt the Flying Scotsman's boiler,
the steam engine, built this.
It's British craftsmanship at its best.
There's 1,000 rivets hand riveted into this beastie.
We heat this up, vapour rises from the mash,
this is water coming down and alcohol going up
and every section it goes through,
the alcohol gets stronger and stronger.
After passing through Nautilus four times,
the spirit emerges as pure as it's possible to make -
an eye-watering 96% proof.
Very few British gin makers go to the trouble
of making their own base spirit like this.
Obviously, that is too strong to drink.
Well, I wouldn't recommend it, that's for sure.
So how do you... Gin's about, what? 40%, or something like that.
Yeah, ours is 46% and the...
What we would do with this is we would water it down
and re-distil with our botanicals to get the flavour into the gin.
Is rye common for making gin?
No, as far as I know, we're the only people in the UK
and one of the only people in the world making gin out of rye.
But the reason we do it again is the providence of the rye we have,
but it's also the flavour you get from it,
the little spicy notes and how it works with our still.
You get a really nice, golden flavour from it.
-Does it taste like gin?
-It tastes like amazing gin.
You'll have to try a bit of it.
Classically, all British gin is infused with an exotic bounty,
such as citrus peel from Spain...
and other heady flavours from across the globe.
What have we got in here?
You've got juniper, you've got lemon peel, you've got orris,
you got Angelica seed. There's little bit of liquorice in there.
We have 12 botanics in it.
Doesn't smell like gin, though.
It will do.
Once you leave it in the spirit for 24 hours,
it really begins to smell like gin.
Well, I'll have a taste in a minute.
Heritage rye G&T is just one of the remarkable
products of Britain's cereal harvest.
And from apricots in Kent,
to radishes from Norfolk,
our farmers' hard work will grace all our tables at the end of this
crucial time in the rural year.
And I'm afraid that's all we've got time for today,
but next week, Ellie will be on the Rame Peninsula in Cornwall
at the UK's first-ever reserve for black bees.
And if you haven't voted yet in our photographic competition,
well, you've got until midnight tonight to do so
and all the details are on the website.
But for now, goodbye, and with a glass of rye gin,
let's say all the best to Britain's farmers at harvest time.
Let's hope it's a good one.
Across the country the race is on to bring home the harvest. It is one of the busiest times of the farming year, when farmers hope to reap the rewards of all their hard work. Countryfile looks at how food is harvested, from large-scale crops for supermarket shelves to smaller hand-picked harvests for local markets.
John Craven is in Oxfordshire meeting the only distillers in the country to use an ancient strain of rye to create a new type of gin.
Margherita Taylor is in Norfolk with a farmer keen to prove that the British radish is more than just a bit on the side. Margherita also visits Bardsley Farm. The family have been growing apples and pears here since 1892 - their archive photos provide a window into traditional harvests of old - but just recently they have branched out and are now growing apricots.
Adam Henson meets the first of the two nations competing to win the coveted title of One Man and His Dog 2017.
Tom Heap discovers how little we know about wasps and asks for your help to find out more.