John Craven and Anita Rani are in Herefordshire exploring the county's burgeoning foodie culture. John meets Simon Cutter, a farmer breeding pure Hereford cattle.
Browse content similar to Herefordshire. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Of all our country's green and fertile acres,
these are some of the richest and most productive.
Herefordshire produces more food than just about any other county
in the UK. There's apples
and hops and cheese and potatoes. And beef.
Now, this is a Hereford -
a classic breed that is coming back in a really big way.
I'll be discovering how the quest for perfect Hereford cattle
is benefiting not just our plates, but our pastures, as well.
But it's not all about the beef, nor the spuds. Not even the cider.
Down on this farm, it is all about these...
Blackcurrants. Millions and millions of them.
And if you think they are all destined for soft drinks,
Tom is on a dairy farm in the West Country.
With badger culling about to get under way
in parts of the English countryside, I'll be asking if gassing would be
a better option. Or should we just lay off the badgers altogether
and concentrate on more regular TB testing of cattle?
And Adam's getting a little taste of South America -
-in the Shropshire countryside.
-On this farm,
they are the first in the UK to grow this crop commercially.
And there is one young farmer
who is determined to make this crop into a firm British favourite.
But before I tell you more about it, I need to learn how to pronounce it!
Herefordshire - a rural paradise of rambling rivers, jutting hills
and green, green grass,
tucked up against the border between England and Wales.
Famous for fruit and farming, it's a county that has been putting food
on the tables of the nation for hundreds of years.
I am in the Wye Valley, near Ross-on-Wye,
finding out about some of the foodie things that Herefordshire
has to offer.
There is everything here, from cherries to chocolates,
from hops to apples, from blackcurrants to cheese.
And, of course, beef.
Hereford cattle - a classic, traditional English breed.
Once the most widely-spread beef cattle in the world.
These cattle are supreme grazers,
turning the roughest of pastures into the very best of meat.
This ability saw the Hereford breed exported to more than 50 countries,
from Australia to Russia,
to the great plains of North and South America.
Anywhere there was grass, Herefords soon followed.
But intensive farming and the rise of breeds
such as Charolais and Limousins in the UK put paid to
the Hereford here at home. The grassland was ploughed up for barley
to feed the new Continental incomers.
But the Hereford is back - and so are the pastures.
Simon Cutter is leading the way.
He manages 550 acres in the Wye Valley,
which he has turned back to grassland for his Herefords.
-How are you?
-I'm good, thanks.
-That is the way to round up a bull!
-That is it, yes!
-He does seem very docile.
I don't think I could operate this system without docile cattle.
So, that is a real trait of the Herefords?
Well, the Hereford is remarkable for the number of the traits it has.
It has the white face, which is famous the world over.
It has the best and consistent beef we think we can produce
and it has the ability to forage off grass.
So, what is your big idea, then, with this breed now?
Here, we're wanting them to perform off grass and grass alone.
And he has got a herd of the very best grazers.
So, is your herd built up from traditional local stock?
Well, partly, but we are also looking around the world
for traits of the Hereford, to make them more suitable to this farm.
So, this guy's father lived in Australia. We've got bulls
from New Zealand and Canada and America.
Using frozen genetics, we can go anywhere these days.
So, here you've got a traditional
Hereford herd on a Herefordshire hillside,
-but made up from bulls' semen from all over the world?
But we did send it all over the world in the beginning.
-It is all coming home now, isn't it?
-That's it, yes.
And it wasn't just the cattle that Simon reintroduced to this farm.
He also planted the pastures that they graze on.
And your herd feeds only on grass, is that right?
Yes. Everything they need is grown here.
The pastures are full of minerals and we make the hay from the pastures
and then feed the hay back to the cattle in the winter.
This pasture land wasn't even here in 2000, when you took over?
No, it had been farmed as a mixed arable farm
and it was very tricky soil. It wasn't really suited to arable.
It was crying out to go back to pasture land.
We sowed these seeds and left it to the cows
to develop the pastures. Without the cows,
we couldn't have the pasture, and without the pasture,
-we wouldn't have the cows.
-Simon's herd lives outdoors all year round,
munching only on this perfect pasture. and, according to some,
this makes for the best-tasting meat.
Russell Carrington is from the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association.
-Why are you so passionate about pasture land?
It is so important in the UK. 60% of the UK is down to pasture land
and it has an awful lot of things to offer for nature and biodiversity
and can produce great quality pasture-fed beef.
But an awful lot of the meat we eat, the animals are being fed on corn
-and soya, as well as grass.
-That's right, yes.
But what we have done, as an organisation, is developed
a set of standards and a brand which specifically defines pasture-fed
-for life - beef and lamb.
-What is so special about the taste
of meat from animals that only eat grass?
Well, it is very common to find that the taste of the wildflower meadows
often reflects in the taste of that meat.
There are proven health benefits, such as the healthier balance
of Omega 3 and Omega 6 - fatty acids similar to those found in oily fish -
lower in total fats, much higher in essential vitamins and minerals.
We think we have stumbled across something which is demanded
by the consumer.
Is there any way that I can tell if I buy a piece of meat
in a butcher's that it is pasture-fed meat?
Yes, very much so. Let me show you what we have developed.
We have a barcode system on the packet of meat,
to trace back that history of the animal. So, you can use
a typical app on a smartphone or mobile device
and we can scan that barcode, if we hold it in there,
and that will take us to the PastureFed website, where all
of our farmers are listed. So, this is Simon's farm, Model Farm.
It tells me exactly where
-this piece of meat came from?
-That's right. So, these fields,
as we are standing now. You can click through to view
the animal details and see the specific animal itself.
If it was a Hereford breed, when it was born. Furthermore,
the supply chain - from the farm, to which abattoir it went to
when it was slaughtered, where it was butchered
-and where it was finally sold.
-That's what I call traceability!
It establishes a lot of trust in the brand we have developed, as well.
So, once again, the Hereford is grazing the pastures of old.
Later, I'll be finding out how wildlife
also benefits from this little rural revolution.
Now, the highly-controversial pilot culls of badgers
are about to start again, but have we really explored all the options
when it comes to tackling bovine TB? That is what Tom is investigating.
Somerset and Gloucestershire - lands of rolling hills
and fertile valleys,
and at the heart of one of the most
contentious issues in the countryside today...
the badger cull.
These badgers are safe in a sanctuary,
not destined to be released.
Elsewhere in England, though, the cull is about to begin.
The idea behind it is controversial, but simple -
if you can reduce the number of infected badgers in the countryside,
fewer cattle should get bovine TB on farms.
In theory, it is said that if you can get 70% of the badgers,
the incidence of bovine tuberculosis should reduce by 16%.
But last year's trial culls cast doubt on the effectiveness
of shooting, with a failure to kill the target numbers of badgers
or meet welfare standards. So, with a fresh cull
just around the corner, should we be considering alternatives to shooting?
Earlier this year, the Princess Royal added further controversy
to the culling debate, suggesting that gassing badgers
would be more humane, and effective, than shooting.
You would favour gassing as an approach?
I don't believe that shooting was ever a particularly good way
of dealing with it. Gas is a much nicer way of doing it,
if that's not a silly expression, because of the way it works.
And how it works is that you go to sleep, basically.
It is not a new idea. Gassing was widespread,
until badgers became protected in the early '70s.
After that, gassing was still used for several years by the Government.
-Now some would like to see it return.
-We have 1,000-head of cattle...
'Derek Mead is a Somerset farmer who has set up a group
'called the Badger Welfare Association.'
What did you make
of Princess Anne's remarks about gassing badgers?
I think she should be congratulated. She really, in my opinion,
is the only person that is talking common sense.
Why would gassing badgers be preferable to shooting them?
I think shooting is not working very well. It's not humane and,
above all, we believe that they are targeting the wrong badgers.
We want to target the badgers that are infected
and not the healthy badgers.
I think gassing is more thorough. You can clear bigger areas quicker
and, once you identify the sett, you actually clear the whole sett.
Derek Mead believes gas is more efficient than the gun,
especially when used to target infected setts. The problem there
is that, so far, scientists have found it difficult to tell
if a sett is diseased, but Derek thinks this is where farmers,
and their local knowledge, have the edge.
So, when it comes to solving the TB crisis,
you think we should rely on countryman's ways
-rather than science?
-And do you think that will carry weight in Westminster
-and policy places like that?
-Well, like I said, with all due respect
to the scientists, they haven't done very good up to now.
How frustrated are farmers at the moment?
There is a big vacuum of frustration out there.
Farmers are so desperate that, in certain instances,
they will take the law into their own hands.
DEFRA condemns anyone who breaks the law to kill badgers,
but hasn't ruled out gassing
as a method of badger culling for the future.
In fact, for the past year, the Government has been testing gassing
without actually using live animals, but is yet to comment on the success
of those trials. It certainly won't be used in the culls this year.
But DEFRA says it will continue its research into using
carbon monoxide and look for effective methods
of identifying diseased setts.
But many people believe, whether it is about efficiency
or animal welfare, gassing is simply a bad idea.
From the mid '70s to the early '80s, gassing using hydrogen cyanide
was tested. Ecologist Dr Chris Cheeseman saw the impact
of these trials for himself
and says he never wants to see gas used again.
As far as gassing is concerned, it is fraught with problems.
And I was around 35 years ago,
when they were still using hydrogen cyanide to kill badgers
and I saw some experiments to establish the effectiveness
of cyanide on badgers, during which it was found to be inhumane.
It was ghastly.
Badgers were retching and vomiting and behaving in a very
distressed fashion, uttering distress calls.
I was asked what I thought. I said, "This is not humane.
"It should be stopped." And it was, immediately.
The Government abandoned it, there and then, that same day.
But they are not proposing using cyanide today.
It would be carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide.
And that is a more benign way to go, isn't it?
There are whole host of problems
associated with gassing badger setts. Firstly, it's indiscriminate.
You'll kill healthy badgers, as well as the infected ones.
Some of those healthy badgers may be naturally resistant to TB
and the last thing you'd want to do is to kill them.
And we do know that badger setts are extremely complex structures
and if you gas a sett, it is extremely difficult to achieve
lethal concentrations of gas in the furthest recesses of the sett.
'Dr Cheeseman not only thinks that gassing is wrong.
'He, like many other scientists, believes the focus on culling badgers
'is diverting our attention from more efficient ways
'of tackling the disease.'
But what are these more effective ways of tackling bovine TB?
That is what I will be finding out later.
In the shadow of the Black Mountains,
to the west of Herefordshire,
the fertile fields are producing food of a different kind.
Rather than feeding the appetite, this farm sets out to nourish
the body in a different way.
For the past 30 years, these five acres have been abundant
This farm harnesses the power of flowers and harvests for health.
Marshmallow is an emollient. It softens and soothes the skin.
Having studied botany and plant physiology the world over,
Dr Paul Richards' fascination with the herbal uses of plants blossomed.
He returned to Herefordshire,
growing herbs and flowers to make skin care products.
When did your love of plants begin, Paul?
Well, it actually started when I was really very young, because my
father and my uncle, you know, were really keen on wild plants.
-This is Echinacea.
It's obviously well-known as a cold remedy.
You say it's well known as a cold remedy.
I mean, do we know that plants can have medicinal properties?
Most definitely. And there's lots of evidence, you know.
As well as traditional evidence,
they've actually done lots of trials on this.
So, I mean, 75% of commercial medicines have some origin in plants.
-Such as morphine.
-From poppies, yes.
The word aspirin actually comes from Spiraea, a genus of plants
including meadowsweet, known for their pain-relieving properties.
But these crops have all been especially selected
for their ability to nurture and protect the skin.
-Do you use the products?
-I do, of course.
Well, you're looking good for 105, though, Paul, I must say.
Marshmallow provides the basis for a lot of Paul's products.
And I don't mean the type you devoured as a child.
We use the root, actually, of this plant, and it has mucilages in it.
What's a mucilage?
A mucilage, it's a soft, silky substance that soothes the skin
and it also attracts moisture and holds it in the skin.
-Like a mucus-y...
No. No. No. Silky.
Silky! OK, that's a better adjective.
Although we don't harvest it till later,
we've dug one up for you to see.
-If you open it up, you can feel this silkiness to it.
When you extract it in water, you get this lovely sort of jelly.
When we started, we kind of championed the use of marshmallow
because it's such a good herb
and very few people were using it at the time but we noticed
-quite a lot are using it now, cos they realise how good it is.
Well, it feels lovely.
The crops are grown organically and the small team sow, grow
and harvest everything by hand.
These marigolds, we call them Calendula
cos that's the type of marigold they are, and they're anti-inflammatory.
It's very useful if you've got
sensitive skin, obviously, to use an anti-inflammatory.
To get from seed to skin,
the flowers and herbs are firstly picked...
..then cleaned and chopped before their resins can be extracted.
'Paul's wife Carol is showing me
'the next step in the process in the purpose-built drying room.'
-Doesn't it look beautiful in here?
-Yes, beautiful colours, aren't they?
We've got two layers of drying herbs here
and the fans sort of move up through the heat.
Gentle heat comes through the herbs and just dries.
Do you know why I love this? It's something very...
It's very hands-on.
Also it feels like something you could do yourself.
It's very easy to make a simple balm.
But actually the quality of the organic herbs really makes
-a big difference.
The dried flowers are then infused in sunflower oil at a warm
temperature for around three weeks.
Once strained, you have the flower oil extract.
'Hair net on...'
I thought I was here to beautify myself, Sarah.
'..and into the farm's field lab,
'where it's Sarah's job to create the finished products.
'And she's captured a real flavour of Herefordshire.'
-Today, we're doing temple balm.
So this is going to be a nice sort of calming,
soothing balm to obviously put on your temples.
In here, we have Herefordshire hops.
-There's something relaxing about hops, is there?
Years ago, they used to use hop pillows like we would use
lavender now. In here, this one's lovely.
This is the meadowsweet, which is a sort of wild herb that
grows in the hedgerows.
And that has a sort of mild pain-relieving elements to it.
We're sterilised and ready.
'To a base of sunflower oil, I add the infused hops and meadowsweet.'
This is organic beeswax, so that's, you know, obviously,
to help the balm set.
-That's it. Pop him in.
-In it goes.
'Leave for two hours to allow the oils to blend
'and kill off any germs.
'Some essential oil to add scent...
-Oh, yeah, that smells lovely.
-It does smell nice, yeah.
'..then it's time to pour the molten, oily wax
'into some warm pots.'
Everything is kept warm so the balm doesn't set too quickly.
How many hundreds have we got to do?
-Oh, only about 1,000 today.
-Yeah, not many!
What do we reckon, Sarah? Have we done well here?
Yeah, it looks pretty good to me.
-Just set it there.
-There we go.
'Leave to set for a couple of hours and relax.'
-Here we've got the finished product.
-Give it a go?
So this is good for the temples, is it? Just that much?
-Yeah, you only need a tiny, little amount and just...
-It feels lovely.
..massage into the temples.
Oh, I'm relaxed already.
Fresh from the fertile fields of Herefordshire.
Now that's what you call flower power.
Earlier, I was finding out that Hereford cattle are grazing
traditional pastures once again.
And there are other benefits as well as beef because
where the cattle tread, wild flowers spring up,
and where wild flowers spring up, you find a profusion of wildlife.
'Andrew Nixon manages this whole region
'for Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.'
Just how big a range of wildlife are we talking about here?
Well, very extensive.
What they've done is they've sown a wild flower mix into this land
here and so we've got a floristic diversity that's come up.
We've got knapweeds, bird's-foot trefoil,
common spotted orchid, a whole range of plants.
Of course, that supports a diversity of insects, then, as well.
We've got a range of butterflies,
including the small pearl-bordered fritillary.
That's quite rare, isn't it?
It is and it's now moving onto the farm
because of the conservation work going on here.
And then there's bumblebees and other pollinators here in abundance.
We know that they've had a hard time in recent years.
And there's grasshoppers and crickets everywhere you walk here.
Of course, that then supports a whole host of other diversity,
such as bats, lesser horseshoe bats hunt here, we know that.
And other avian predators. You know, the peregrine falcons,
the goshawks that we know hunt on this land as well.
A perfect setting for so many things.
And, of course, for humans, too.
Yeah, this is an amazing part of the Wye Valley.
You know, back behind us there is the Symonds Yat Rock viewpoint,
which is being visited by millions of people.
And this farm forms part of that view
and so whatever happens here,
in terms of land use and land management,
it is important for the conservation of the landscape here.
And can people come here? Can they walk across this pasture land?
They can. We have the Wye Valley Walk that comes through here.
A public footpath that comes right along the river bank.
It's a spectacular and sensitive part of the AONB
that can be enjoyed by many people.
And there's another species benefiting from the return
of these meadows -
Sophie Carling and Charlie Long have joined a scheme to get more
people into jobs in conservation.
As part of their training, they're carrying out a survey of this field.
-Charlie, Sophie, hello.
So you've obviously chosen this little spot of the meadow.
Why is that?
Well, we're basically doing a simple botanic survey today.
Just looking at the nice diversity of grasses
and flowering plants here.
There's an awful lot of wild flowers to choose from,
aren't there? I notice here there's some of my favourite wild flowers.
Yeah, this is bird's-foot trefoil, because it looks like a bird's foot.
-It does. It's got lots of names, hasn't it?
Bacon and eggs, it's called,
and my favourite name for it is granny's toenails.
-Oh, I haven't heard that one.
-Have you not?
And are you just checking out the flowers, then?
No, we're looking at all parts of the plant
cos obviously it doesn't flower all year round.
So, some species you need to use a hand lens
to look a bit closer up. So, for example,
distinguishing this knapweed species
from a similar species, devil's-bit scabious.
They've got very similar leaves, so you would use the hand lens
to look at the hairs that grow on the leaves.
So on the hairs on the knapweed species, they have ladders,
because they're made of multiple cells.
So if you'd like to have a look...
So that's definitely a knapweed, is it?
This is definitely a knapweed species.
Oh, yeah, I see what you mean. Yeah.
And what's that you've got over there, Charlie?
We've got a field press with us today
so it's really useful for just picking specimens and taking
plants home and having a closer look with the books in the office.
So, we'll press the knapweed today
just so that we can verify the exact species.
There's quite a lot of different varieties.
So you've got permission to pick wild flowers, have you?
You can pick certain species.
If something's very rare, it might be better to take a photo of all
the different features of the plant and ask an expert.
How's it helping your studies?
I think it's really helped our species identification skills
cos often when people finish university
they know a lot about the academic side but not so much the practical
side of surveying, which is obviously really important in conservation.
You need to know what species you have.
We are in this field here today and we're going to look
at grass-to-herb ratios.
Phil Barton heads up the course that Charlie
and Sophie are taking part in.
So, what does this scheme of yours set out to do, then?
Well, it's all about sort of training
the next generation of wildlife professionals.
Cos there's a perception that a lot of the hands-on practical
skills with species identification
and survey skills are actually disappearing.
And we have graduates who are coming out of university
and they've got great degrees
but they can't actually do the job that we need them to do in the field.
Because there is a danger, isn't there, that there's an
awful lot of people who know an awful lot about wildlife
but they're not passing on that skill, that information,
-to the young generation?
If you look at the age range of the expert naturalists,
they're over 70, they've got this incredible wealth of knowledge,
and we're connecting these trainees up to those older naturalists and
they work together out in the field
and they're cascading that knowledge down.
But also the youngsters are actually passing back up
knowledge about technology, which they don't know anything about.
-And is the scheme being successful?
Yeah, we've had 95% of them, actually,
-have gone into jobs shortly after finishing.
-That's an amazing record.
95% of all the people on your course then get a job.
Yeah, we're really proud. Really proud of it.
As classrooms go, it's not bad.
And there are serious lessons being learned here.
Knowing what's thriving
and surviving means that the land can be managed in the right way
for wildlife as well as providing the rich feed for grazing cattle.
Now, earlier, we heard controversial claims that gassing badgers
would be an effective solution to the problem of bovine tuberculosis.
But, as Tom's been learning, some believe there is a far more
effective way of reducing the disease in cattle.
Another round of trial badger culls is expected to begin
in the Somerset and Gloucestershire landscape over the next few weeks.
But has the killing of badgers distracted discussion
away from other ways of reducing the disease in cattle?
For some, we concentrate too much on the transmission of TB from badgers
to cattle and not enough on the spread of the disease
within the herds themselves.
Five years ago, they decided to address this problem in Wales
by increasing the number of regular TB tests on cattle,
with some significant results.
It's about time to get farmers
and everybody that's interested working together.
'Christianne Glossop is the Chief Vet for Wales
'and the woman behind the Welsh TB eradication plan.'
What's at the core of your TB strategy in Wales?
I believe that our annual testing programme is a key foundation stone
of what we're doing and it is probably the single most
effective measure that we are applying.
It was preceded by what we called TB Health Check Wales, where we
set out to test every herd of cattle over the shortest period possible.
Following that, we made a decision to move to annual testing.
What was the result of your annual testing?
We've been annually testing all our herds of cattle for five
years now and the key headline figure would be that,
over that period of time,
the number of new TB breakdowns has reduced by almost a half.
Before Wales moved to annual testing,
the picture there was more like the current policy in England today -
different testing regimes for different parts of the country.
And that meant low-risk cattle were only tested every four years.
If you have areas of the country where testing is taking place every
four years then there could be a change in the disease picture over
that period of time that you don't pick up until four years later.
If you can introduce rapid early identification of disease
then you're effectively trying to get ahead of the game,
rather than running along behind.
'This is not the first time that regular testing has been
'linked with a decrease in the number of infected cattle.
'Turn back the clock 50 or 60 years
'and the UK pretty much had bovine TB under control.'
Back in the early 1960s,
high-intensity testing had helped reduce the number of infected cattle
by over three quarters in just four years,
from over 25,000 to 6,000 cattle slaughtered.
But you have to bear in mind that, at the same time,
the culling of badgers was widespread,
making it almost impossible to prove the effectiveness of regular testing.
So how can we be sure it really does make a difference?
That's a problem that scientists at Warwick University
have been wrestling with.
That's all the supplementary data.
49%, so that's really good. Yeah, OK.
Matt Keeling and Ellen Brooks-Pollock have been using mathematical models
and a bit of computer wizardry to simulate
the spread of the disease in cattle in Great Britain.
What we've managed to do is develop a mathematical model which
simulates the spread of TB using the known movements of cattle
and matches it to the data that is available from DEFRA.
And what are the key findings that come out of this for you?
So, one of the key findings, in terms of control, is actually how
efficient it would be to do additional testing.
And is that what we're looking at here?
Yes, this shows the number of reactors.
You see that if we introduce an additional test for all herds,
you get a big spike in the number of reactors
cos you're testing more, finding more.
But then, after five years, the number of reactors
is approximately half what it would have been.
'The modelling strongly suggests annual cattle testing could
'bring about a dramatic reduction in bovine TB.
'It also indicated that the risk to healthy animals from infected
'cattle was far greater than from diseased badgers.'
We saw about a 25% drop, which,
when you compare it with the 50% that you'd see
for annual additional testing, you know, it's only about half as good.
The best thing we could do at the moment
is increase cattle testing nationally.
But, despite studies like this and the results in Wales, DEFRA told us
there are no plans to increase routine testing in England, although
it will consider testing after an animal is moved to a new location.
The National Farmers' Union doesn't want to see
more regular testing either.
Partly because the cost could run into millions of pounds.
Well, let's say, first of all, that it is our priority to keep TB
out of the areas which are currently clean. That's really important.
If annual testing was going to help to do that,
we'd be in favour of it. But we've looked very carefully at this.
We don't think it's a very effective measure,
we don't think it's value for money, so we're not advocating that.
In England, we've got about 5,000 new breakdowns a year.
Of those, 40 occur in the clean, low-risk areas.
It doesn't really seem worthwhile having annual testing
across the whole country for the sake of 40 outbreaks a year.
DEFRA's current strategy may not involve more regular testing
but it does include a range of measures for controlling
the transmission of the disease not only from badgers to cattle
but amongst herds as well.
The aim is to eradicate the disease in cattle by 2038
and it's a strategy broadly supported by the NFU.
The Government's TB strategy is predicated on getting rid of,
eradicating TB and maintaining a viable cattle industry.
If we didn't want...
weren't particularly concerned about maintaining
a viable cattle industry, we'd probably do it quicker,
but, you know, we do, so we can't.
So 25 years is, I think, a very realistic target.
So, it could well be 2038 before we see the end of this painful
and controversial episode in British farming.
That means that the highly charged debate over the best ways to
tackle this debilitating disease could very well
continue for another quarter of a century.
Most of us are enjoying the summer holidays at this time of year,
but for farmers, there's no time to rest.
Every day is a work day for Adam and his team.
Late summer, and we're surrounded by a land of plenty.
Plenty of sunshine, with the odd downpour,
and plentiful crops as far as the eye can see.
It's been a really good growing season for our crops this year.
This is winter wheat that's looking fantastic.
We planted last autumn with seeds like this.
The crop is still looking really green and healthy.
This top leaf is known as the flag leaf
and that's photosynthesising and producing sugars and energy that's
going into the seed head to produce really good quality, plump grain.
Because the flag leaf is so healthy,
it's producing these really long ears of wheat.
If it didn't have that energy, it'd be short and with less grain in it.
So this is looking really good.
If I open up one of these little spikelets, they're called,
you can see the plump grain filling inside.
And, as it matures and ripens, that will turn brown
and that's what we'll harvest.
We've also got a fantastic crop of spring barley coming on nicely.
This stuff goes into making beer.
Here on the farm, barley and wheat make up about 58% of our arable area.
This is one of our other major crops. It's oilseed rape.
We planted it last August
and then, after the winter, in the spring,
it's a small plant about this big that grows very, very quickly,
flowers in May, June time, producing those lovely yellow flowers
and each flower then sets a seed pod, and you'll see the pods here -
I'll rip them open - have got these little black seeds inside.
And the seeds, once they've been combined,
go for making margarines, or ours go for rapeseed oil for cooking
and salad dressings and those sorts of things.
And the plant naturally senesces, or dies off,
but it does it a bit unevenly, so what we do is we spray it off
so it dies off all at the same time so the whole field is crispy
and dry and flows through the combine easily.
Wheat, barley and oilseed rape are pretty much standard fare
for arable farmers.
For us, they're our major cash crops.
But it can be a tricky game balancing the land condition, the weather,
diseases and pests, and the price we hope to make once it goes for sale.
You've got to speculate to accumulate
and growing crops can be quite a gamble.
It's an educated gamble
but there are lots of variables that determine the outcome.
And one thing at home that we don't gamble with too much
are the type of crops we grow.
I've heard about a young farmer who's growing a new commercial crop
for the first time in the UK
and apparently the plants have got quite an exotic background.
High in the Andes of South America,
communities have thrived on quinoa for more than 7,000 years.
The Andean people call it the mother grain,
with Bolivia being the biggest exporter worldwide.
In 2012, they produced 58,000 tonnes, including the red variety.
While we British are still catching on to the idea,
South Americans have been singing its praises for centuries.
In fact, the United Nations declared 2013
the International Year of Quinoa
and named it a superfood that could even help fight world hunger.
So it's no wonder that bright, young thing Stephen Jones has brought
this taste of Bolivia to British soils.
Our Shropshire soils, to be precise.
-Good to see you.
-This quinoa looks wonderful.
-It looks great this year.
We're really pleased with it. We've got plenty of plants here.
The crop's looking a nice green colour.
When I left home, we had a bit of a discussion in my house
whether it's called "quinn-o-ah" or "keen-wa".
Tell me it's "quinn-o-ah" cos I want to be right.
I think for the British product, "quinn-o-ah" is absolutely fine.
I know in South America they refer to it as "keen-wa" or "keen-o-wa".
-I go with "quinn-o-ah". It's much easier.
-There we go.
So, why did you get into it in the first place?
I initially got into this crop because I'm a vegetarian,
I want to eat a diet that's high in protein and really good for you.
So I was reading a news article one day
and I saw about this crop that was incredibly good for you
and I thought, "Well, why can't I grow it in the UK?"
So I sourced some seeds and it really started from there.
Where did you get the seed from to plant it?
Initially, we tried seed from the supermarket
or from different health food shops.
We took it and we planted it in the field
but unfortunately most of it didn't grow.
So where did you get this success story from?
-Where did the seed come from?
-The seed for this was actually
bred in the Netherlands, by a university there.
These varieties that we're now growing are much higher yielding
and the seed quality is a lot better
than anything I've trialled previously.
I've got to ask, Stephen,
cos you're a bit of a trailblazer with this crop, how old are you?
I've just turned 27.
So you're really just a very clever chap, driving agriculture forward.
Over the years, I trialled many different crops in the UK.
I've actually got some other crops on the farm at the moment
-if you want to come have a look.
-Yeah, love to.
Stephen comes from a long line of farming stock.
His grandparents set up the farm you see today
and dad Edward has been there through all Stephen's crop trials...
-So, Adam, this is my dad, Edward, here.
-Hi, good to meet you.
How are you doing? Nice to meet you.
He's got you doing some manual labour?
Well, the pay isn't very good, though!
-So, what is this?
-Little patches of oca we've got here.
So, oca, I've never seen it before.
It looks like clover growing on potato ridges.
Oca is a South American tuber crop that we are now trialling
here on the farm. Oca itself, it produces a really tasty tuber.
They produce a beautiful array of colours.
So on the plate they really do have a lovely visual impact.
How did you get into this one?
This was another crop a little bit like my quinoa.
Just looking on the internet, what might work in the UK.
So, for you, as a large-style commercial farmer,
what's it like having a son with all these fancy ideas?
I can see that some of what he's wanting to do is totally
different and I can see it's going to work, so I'm backing him.
All this fresh air and talking about all these crops,
I'm getting a bit hungry. Can we go and try them?
Have you got any we can eat?
We've got some different products at home, so let's give them a go.
Over here, I'm going to be showing you how to make
one of my favourite quinoa recipes.
This is some of the grain that we grew last year
and this is what we'll be cooking with today.
It's a tiny seed, isn't it? So what have we got to do first?
What we have to do first is rinse the quinoa.
This just removes any little bits of dust.
With quinoa, we usually cook it with one cup of quinoa
to one and a half cups of water.
Leave it for about ten minutes until it's ready.
Over here, we've got couscous, pasta and some rice as well.
Quinoa has got the highest protein.
It's got the highest iron content of all these different products.
Fibre as well.
And it's also got the lowest carbohydrates, which is
very important for people obviously looking for a better diet with
reduced number of carbohydrates in there.
So, really, it's blowing all these out the water.
It's tremendous, isn't it?
Absolutely. That's why they call it a superfood.
Quicker than you can say "Bolivian panpipes",
it's time to whip up a tasty salad.
One of the first ingredients we're going to add is some
pomegranate seeds. Next, one of my favourite - a bit of avocado.
So, next, what we want to do
is to put it onto a little bed of baby leaves.
Where's your dad, then? Better get him in.
Dad, do you want to come and try some of this?
-Is it good?
-Really good, yeah. Really nice. Lovely.
So now you've got it on the farm,
are you eating this all the time, then?
-Pretty regularly, yes.
-Do you enjoy it?
Yeah, it goes immensely well with casseroles and what have you.
'And, if salad wasn't enough...'
Here we are, Adam.
One quinoa chocolate cake.
So, instead of flour, you've used the quinoa.
Essentially, we have just replaced the wheat flour with quinoa flour.
That looks really good, doesn't it?
-How does it taste?
It's really light, it's really fluffy.
It tastes no different, really, than, you know,
a cake made out of wheat flour. Well, congratulations, gentlemen.
The work you're doing on this is just wonderful.
Well, it's been fascinating visiting this farm,
and pioneering young farmers like Stephen are exactly what this
country needs, bringing fresh ideas to farming to provide
good quality, healthy food for our tables.
a dynamic agricultural landscape, overflowing with epicurean treasure.
'But there's much more to this county than just beer and beef.'
I'm on a farm that's a little bit different to the rest.
A farm in the North of Herefordshire that's moving in
on traditional French turf.
All thanks to these - blackcurrants.
Not to be outdone by the more trendy berries on the market, this farm
is flying the flag for the British blackcurrant in more ways than one.
Farms like this boomed during the 1940s.
The Government backed the British blackcurrants as a way
of getting much-needed vitamin C into people's diet after the war.
The humble berries packed a punch so healthy that blackcurrant syrup was
given as a supplement in schools, hospitals and nursing homes.
Due to the amount of hot, sunny weather we've had,
the sugar levels are very high and the berries are very juicy.
'I'm bursting to find out more about today's blackcurrant bonanza
'from farm manager James Wright.'
So, after the Second World War, there was quite a big business
-in blackcurrants in the UK.
But what is - I'm so sorry that this -
the CURRANT state of affairs? Sorry.
The current state of affairs, Anita,
is there are about 40 blackcurrant growers in the UK.
However, I believe there used to be hundreds.
So the actual farmed area, I think, has reduced by about 50%
Much of the market has moved abroad,
where land and labour costs are cheaper.
But James and his staff are trying to turn the tide
using the highest of tech.
This is basically state-of-the-art, isn't it?
Yeah, this is the latest model.
It works by driving over the top of the bush and there's two sets
of vibrating fingers which shake the branches off the bush.
Berries fall down onto some conveyors and then over this conveyor.
And it's perfect, isn't it?
-It's delicate enough not to destroy the bush...
..but it's releasing all the berries.
Each year, the farm harvests 300-350 tonnes
of these zingy pearls of goodness,
mainly for blackcurrant squash and the frozen fruit market.
But, like so many farms, they've had to diversify to add value
to their crop, bringing a taste of France to Herefordshire.
We've started to make blackcurrant liqueur in the same
style as French cassis, and we've labelled that as British cassis.
British cassis! Who'd have thought?
-I must say, you're very good at this.
-Do you think I've got a job?
'Having mastered quality-control,
'James lets me try my hand at harvesting.'
I can see how you could get used to this.
'Once picked, the cascade of purple, shiny jewels
'gets crushed and pressed into juice, all within 24 hours.
'Then it makes its way to the brewery.'
It's in here that the magic happens.
-Caught you at a crucial moment.
-You have indeed.
Here we go.
'Into the juice goes yeast and sugar.'
-Can I do the honours?
-In it goes. All of it?
'Then it's left to ferment for five to six months.
'Alan Tucker is the farm's cassis king.'
So, is anyone else producing cassis in the UK?
Do you know, I don't think there is?
-I don't know of anybody else that brews it the same way as we do.
It smells incredible. It looks beautiful. The colour is just...
-Brilliant colour, isn't it?
-..bringing joy to my heart.
-And how does this process differ to the French?
-This process is brewed.
We add yeast and sugar to the pure fruit juice
and we keep adding sugar until it is completely fermented.
The French actually macerate the berries or the currants in sugar
-and steep it in alcohol.
-I think taking your time is what it's all about.
-It's all about...
-There we go.
-We haven't done that one yet.
-Just keeping an eye on my order!
Whilst Alan gets one batch labelled up, I'm left to seal this lot.
I'm really being put to task today.
I think driving heavy machinery is more my style.
'I've seen the whole process through from bush to bottle.
'I think I deserve a taste.
'And if anyone knows how to get the best out of her blackcurrants,
'it's Julie Green, matriarch of the Green family,
'who have owned the farm since the 1880s.
'And this is some of the original advertising for the fruits
'of the farm from the turn of the century.'
These are my husband's grandmother's work to try and sell the fruit.
It's very, very sweet.
"Will you help the British farmer and at the same time help
"yourself by buying farm and home-made produce
"direct from the homestead?"
-She was very artistic.
'Now the moment we've been waiting for.
'Julie's laid on cassis-based puddings and cocktails for us all.'
-Now, then. Would you like some of this lovely pudding?
-I would love some pudding.
-What would you like?
I think we should just get stuck in.
'James and Alan are wasting no time tasting the fruits of their labour.'
So we're having summer pudding, made with British blackcurrants
right here on this very farm, British cassis, produced right here.
-The best of British. Cheers.
Well, this is a taste of summer in a glass,
and we've got the perfect weather for it,
but let's find out if we're in for more of the same
with the Countryfile forecast for the week ahead.
We're in Herefordshire,
a county vying to become the UK's number one food producer.
And, with its lush valleys and fertile orchards,
it produces a wide range of great things to eat.
But I'm on the hunt for something a little more unusual.
Now, have you ever wanted to sink your teeth into a duchess
or wondered what a town crier tastes like,
or maybe discover the flavour of a farmer?
Stupid questions, you might think.
Well, not quite. Just follow me.
Anthony Legge is a local butcher and pie maker extraordinaire.
And all is revealed, Anthony, isn't it?
Because The Duchess, The Town Crier, The Farmer, all names for your pies.
-That's right, yes.
-So, why The Farmer?
Well, that one's named after my dad.
It's a pie that's full of steak and cheddar.
And who doesn't like a pie full of steak and cheddar for lunch?
And what about The Duchess? Where does that come from?
Well, we can't actually reveal who The Duchess is named after.
She might get a bit offended.
And The Old Boy. I mean, that could be me, couldn't it?
-It certainly could, John.
-That's an old-fashioned pie, isn't it?
It is a good old-fashioned pie, yes.
-Have they caught on, your pies with names?
They're very successful. We make around 2,000 pies a week.
It keeps us...keeps us very busy.
Today, Anthony's keen to try out a radical new recipe -
pork, pears and stinging nettles.
'And guess who's got the short straw of picking the nettles?'
-Well, have we got plenty now, do you think?
-Looks perfect, John.
-Let's go back and make some pies.
With all the ingredients gathered,
it's time to start crafting our speciality pie.
All we need now is the meat.
'With the help of one of Anthony's butchers,
'we turn a prime local pig...
'..into premium pork.'
Great. That looks perfect.
'Then we build up the pie in two tasty layers.'
Now we fill the pies.
'Mince and nettles for the base
'and pork and pear on the top.
'An hour and a half in the oven
'and we're ready to taste Herefordshire's latest delicacy.'
-Here we are, John.
-Ah, Anthony, the pies.
-There we are.
-How do they look?
They look wonderful, don't they?
-I wonder what they taste like.
-Let's have a go.
Are you ready for this?
-This is your first ever pork and pear pie.
-This is it.
-Am I right?
-Can I have a taste?
-Of course you can.
Mm! That is lovely, isn't it?
-It's really succulent.
-I can taste the great flavour of the pear. It's wonderful.
'And Anthony has one final surprise.'
We're going to call it...
-..The John Craven pie.
Well, what an honour!
'Town crier Peter Nielsen already has his own pie.
'Now he's rounding up a crowd to put mine to the test.'
A pie has been made of such perfect style
that it should please all at Countryfile!
God bless you all and God save the Queen!
-Well, Peter, thank you for that build-up.
You're more than welcome.
And you already know what it's like to have a pie named after you -
-The Town Crier.
-I certainly do. And very tasty it is, too.
What kind of pie is it?
It's pork, venison and it's got a lovely kick of chilli jam.
-Makes you want to shout?
-Oh, absolutely, yes.
And carry on shouting as well, yes.
'But what will people here in Bromyard think of the new pie?'
Who'd like to taste a little bit of my pie?
-Tell me what you think of that.
-Lovely. Very nice.
Very nice and it just looks appetising.
It's too good for dogs, really. Nice?
Can you taste the pear in there?
-Very tasty, isn't it?
Nearly as tasty as you.
-Peter, what do you think?
-I think it's excellent.
I think he's done a very good job here.
-John, is there any left for me?
-Have a piece of pie.
-Oh, with pleasure. How is it? Is it good?
-OK, I'm going to take a little bit.
-You tell me.
-What do you think is in it?
-Something fruity, John.
-There is. Certainly is. What fruit do you reckon?
-I don't know. Apple.
-Is it apple?
-No, that is pear, actually.
-And the secret ingredient. Any idea? Any guesses?
-It's got stinging nettle in it as well.
That's what makes it unique. Right. That's it from Herefordshire.
Hope you can join us tomorrow, though,
because we've got a special Countryfile to mark Bank Holiday.
Indeed we have. It looks back at all the times we've featured children
having fun in the countryside.
Enough to make big kids of all of us.
-So join us then. Bye for now.
-I'm going to eat more pie.
-A bit more pie.
-Now I can take a big mouthful.
John Craven and Anita Rani are in Herefordshire exploring the county's burgeoning foodie culture. John meets Simon Cutter, a farmer breeding pure Hereford cattle - not just for their meat but because they are the number one grazing cattle. And Simon is as keen on restoring his wildflower meadows as he is his cattle.
Anita finds that there's more power in flowers than meets the eye. She catches up with the botanist looking to extract nature's goodness from his fabulous fields. She also takes part in a harvest with a difference as she helps one producer get in a huge crop of blackcurrants, and she joins John to put her taste buds to the test as she samples a unique take on the traditional pork pie.
Adam's in Shropshire meeting the farmer bringing a little taste of South America to Britain with his quinoa. And Tom asks if using gas to kill badgers is the right solution to stopping the spread of bovine TB.