Matt looks at Herefordshire's historic perry-making industry and helps out with the pear harvest. He starts out at Weston's, the world's biggest producers of perry.
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All over Herefordshire, the orchards burst with fruit.
The boughs hang heavy with apples...
and pears, but we are not going to eat the pears
that we are picking today, because they are used to make
a drink that some say is even better than cider.
Thank you very much.
I mean, it is Sunday night, Countryfile's on, why not?
Oh, yeah, that is good.
Anita's stepping back in time.
"September 1st, 1939.
"Trimmed hedge by lane, turned and hauled load of hay from X Way.
"Germany invades Poland."
Tom's at sea with the Border Force,
investigating exploitation of fishing workers.
This new Modern Slavery Act means they are taking this issue
very seriously. There's proof right there.
And Adam's on hand to witness a different kind of harvest.
We're cutting bracken to make this. This is a brackette,
and it's ideal for log burners and open fires.
It's amazing that you can take this old bracken and make it into
a fuel that heats up a roaring fire.
And, in fact, on a day like today I'm going to need a fire tonight!
Herefordshire - a largely rural county.
A land that is the very definition of fruitful.
Herefordshire is bordered by Wales to the west and sandwiched
between Shropshire to the north
and Gloucestershire to the south.
Famed for its apple orchards, there is a fruit more highly prized still.
Oh, yes. I am talking about pears. And not just any pears.
Now, these are not meant for eating. They are grown to make perry.
Herefordshire's gift to the world.
Perry is the proper name for pear cider.
And here in Herefordshire, they make more than anywhere else.
The finest is said to be made from pairs grown
in sight of the fabled May Hill.
Westons, the cider makers,
are the only large-scale producer of traditional perry.
It's been made at Bounds Farm, Much Marcle
for more than a century.
Well, isn't this just the most beautiful, mellow farmhouse?
And you would think from the front that not much had changed
since Henry Weston first came here in 1878.
Mind you, if he could look out of his back bedroom these days,
he'd certainly be in for a shock.
Three generations on, the family continues Henry's business,
but these days on a much bigger scale,
making and selling all the perry they can.
Oh, lovely! Look at that batch!
Beautiful. What a lovely sight.
Well, I think you can't quite believe,
-and it always amazes me, how many there are!
Yeah, you think of a bag of pears in a supermarket or a greengrocers...
-And then you see that many pears at once.
It never fails to impress me.
Well, you've obviously got a massive production site here,
but how big a part is perry of what you do here?
Well, this year we're looking to process over 30,000 metric
-tonnes of fruits.
-Are you really?
And, of that, if we get 400 tonnes of perry pears we'll be happy,
so it's a very, very small part,
but a very, very precious part of our business.
Perry's, perry pear's a very special part of Herefordshire,
but it is less than 1% of our production.
'A third of the pears are grown right here.
'The rest are bought ripe each autumn from
'local farmers ike Steve Leighton,
'who's planted perry pear trees especially to meet this demand.'
-This is the first time...
..on a commercial orchard. We planted seven acres, five years ago,
-so we're just getting up to production now.
-Exciting times, then, for you.
-Yes, going well, yeah.
Well, you've done a good job with this lot.
'And after all that effort, it's key for growers like Steve to
'deliver the perry pears at just the right time.'
How urgent is this process,
because they don't really keep that well, do they, perry pears?
-We need 20 tonnes before we can start the pressing process.
But with pears in particular we really need to process them
as quickly as possible.
Apples will last a bit longer,
but the pears we'll process pretty much as soon as we get them.
'These special perry pears would make your mouth pucker if you tried
'to eat them, but once the fruit juice is fermented and matured,
'it makes a flavoursome drink.
'The alchemy of maturing this perry takes six months in oak casks,
'but not just any old casks.'
-It's... It is mind-blowing.
It is potentially the largest collection of oak vats,
not barrels, in the world.
-Is that right?
-Well, it doesn't surprise me.
-What a sight this is.
-This is the highest point in the main vat shed.
-And we're standing on top of Squeak.
-This is Squeak?
-This is Squeak.
-Named Squeak? OK.
Yeah, all the vats have names. The three oldest down here are
Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester.
And Henry Weston bought those second-hand in 1880.
-It's a super display.
-I mean, you feel it, don't you?
You really do feel the character
-of the liquid that's in here.
'And talking of characters,
'later I'm going to be meeting the perry fanatic on
'a one-man crusade to put authentic pear cider back on the map.'
For centuries, we've been known as a seafaring nation -
harvesting our seas as we have done our land.
But at what cost?
Our coastal waters - mighty and dramatic,
and for some a truly formidable place of work.
Generations of men and women have toiled here,
bringing ashore all manner of foods from the deep.
But for a few at the margins of the fishing industry,
it's not just hard work.
Some of the people who actually catch this fish
live and work in appalling conditions.
Unsafe, untrained, sometimes unpaid.
In effect, treated like slaves.
Shocking words, but they're not mine.
It's seen as such a serious problem, a new law has been passed -
the Modern Slavery Act.
Some 12,000 people work on UK fishing boats.
About one in ten come from outside Europe.
And it's these sometimes low-paid foreign workers who can be
at risk of exploitation.
Everyone knows that working to catch fish is
a tough job and not always the best paid.
But this is something much more sinister.
Out on the high seas, it's easy for promises of good pay and
a decent job to vanish, leaving people in dangerous conditions
working for almost nothing.
I'm meeting three men who have experienced just that, first-hand.
-You worked 24 hours...?
-In one go?
'They are all Filipinos.
'Their case is still under investigation and because of
'past threats of violence, they've asked us not to show their faces.'
Do you get any rest after that?
-24 hours, one hour...?
-One hour, two hours, again.
You said you were treated like animals. Was the captain aggressive?
-Was there a threat of violence?
Were you free to leave the ship when you were in port?
Did you feel like a slave?
'The men found themselves trapped in an unseen corner
'of the fishing industry where abuse was commonplace.'
They were rescued by the Apostle Ship of the Sea,
a church-based charity.
Roger Stone is a chaplain who's witnessed exploitation.
In the 21st century in the UK, why is this happening?
In most ports around the country,
ships come alongside to berths which are behind security fences,
so the general public has no access,
so it's only from a sort of privileged position of
working for a charity like us that we're able to go on ships and
spend time talking to the crew and find out what's going on.
When you go on ships and see some of these conditions,
-what's the worst thing you've seen?
-It's a combination of factors.
Some people work really long hours, maybe 100, 120 hours a week,
sometimes for very little money or sometimes for no money.
Very poor accommodation on board. And lack of provisions.
Either no food or no water or running very low,
or they can only eat what they catch, for example.
When all those factors come together, there's only one word
that describes what's really going on on a ship and that is slavery.
How did it feel when you were free? What did that feel like?
-It was like getting out of jail?
-Really? You're all nodding at that.
'Happily, these men were supported by the Salvation Army and now
'have legitimate jobs.'
But the charity says that right now, today, there could be scores
more like them, being exploited on UK fishing boats.
So, how has this been allowed to happen
and what is the industry doing about it?
Libby Woodhatch is from Seafish,
which represents and promotes UK fishing.
Do you acknowledge that there is a problem in some fishing boats
with, in effect, slave labour?
I think slave labour's quite a strong word.
We need to look at perhaps labour abuses, but focus on the fact
that it's one or two vessels potentially out of a large fleet.
If you need five or six crew and you can't find that locally,
then you want reliable labour.
Particularly other countries, like the Philippines,
provide highly skilled men and without them,
the fleet wouldn't be able to operate and because it's a dangerous
job, you want people who know exactly what they're doing,
you want people handling the product correctly.
There's nothing wrong with migrant labour,
-as long as they're being adequately paid and treated fairly.
And safely. And I still wonder what the industry's doing to make sure
-that's the case.
-The industry initially, in the early days,
created its own code of conduct for non-EAA labour,
which ensured that you had the right conditions on board,
that the people were looked after and paid, and as a carry-on from
that, we have something called the Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme.
There are five key criteria and one of those is health,
safety and welfare.
We want to make sure that the conditions are right on board
the boat, that they are being paid, they have a right to be there,
they have freedom of movement, they can get on and off the boat,
they have the right contracts, so the Responsible Fishing Scheme,
it gives assurances.
Even if exploitation is only happening on the fringes of
the industry, it's something the Government says must be stopped.
And later in the programme, I'll be joining the Border Force,
as they use new powers to do just that.
This new Modern Slavery Act means they're taking this issue
It's proof right there.
Sweeping ridges and steep-sided valleys.
This part of Herefordshire, near the border with Wales,
is a quiet corner of a quiet county.
It's as though time has stood still here and it feels like things
haven't changed for decades
and the spirits of a bygone era are all around.
"Fed some cattle, ploughed corner field.
"Farther hedging, carried fern for horse and cattle.
"Put my cow back in her old place and little cow was put by her
"in wild one's place."
Those words were written by a farmer, Alfred Price,
and the place he was talking about is right here, all around me.
This is Birches Farm.
Alfred was born in 1908 and farmed these 60 acres in the same
traditional way for his entire life.
The modern world seemed to pass him by,
as he faithfully recorded each and every day in diaries spanning
more than 70 years.
These diaries are a haul of treasure.
This is where Alfred has kept the minute details of his routine
farming life. And I'll give you an example.
This is from one of his earlier diaries. 1930.
It's January 29th and it's a Wednesday and he says,
"Fed ewes and suckled calf before breakfast.
"Fed and cleaned cattle and horses out after breakfast.
"Hauled three loads of manure from bullock's door and one from
"inside and brought four loads of swedes back in barn.
"Done cattle, and pulped them,
"had tea, suckled calf and finished up work by 6.30."
What a day's work.
And then, January 30th, the following morning,
he starts with, "Same as yesterday."
And something that stands out for me, which I found
particularly interesting, gives us an insight into the age.
It says, "Went down to Guild at night,
"the topic of discussion was - should boys do housework?"
Well, I hope things have moved on a little bit since then.
But looking at all of these, all I want to know is, Alfred,
where's the juicy gossip about your personal life?
Well, there is one entry, thank you, from 1942 about his future wife,
Winnie, and it says, "Received a lovely smile from W."
And then, there's this entry. From September 1st, 1939.
"Trimmed hedge by lane. Turned and hauled load of hay from X Way.
"Germany invades Poland."
Even the outbreak of the Second World War is
no more significant to Alfred than hauling a load of hay.
During the war, many farmers were encouraged to plough
a pasture to grow food.
But Birches Farm was too hilly, so Alfred carried on just as before,
as those who knew him well remember.
-How does it feel, being back here?
Amazing, actually. It really is very, very nice.
It's about ten years since I've been here.
72-year-old Jimmy Morgan was a labourer here and is
mentioned often in Alfred's diaries.
How old were you when you started working with Alfred?
I was about ten, I think.
-What was he like?
He was the sort of man who would never ever ever
criticise anybody else.
He was a lovely man. And I think I was the son he never had. Basically.
He didn't believe in fertiliser out of the bag,
but I can't remember him ever using fertiliser, actually.
I know I tried very hard to get him to put water tanks in.
-Just basically, he didn't want the bother.
-Why do you think that was?
Why do you think he did things that way?
Well, he didn't have a mortgage.
That was the reason. He didn't really have to make a lot of money.
-Just enough to live.
-Very lucky him, yeah.
And lucky for us too.
Alfred's refusal to keep step with changing trends in farming
has had an unexpected bonus.
It's because Alfred didn't want or need to modernise the farm, it's
because he didn't have to introduce intensive methods and use
pesticides and fertilisers that this land has a very special quality.
The farm is rich in wildlife and wild flowers and is now owned
by the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust.
Jim Light manages it in exactly the same way that Alfred Price did.
-What are you up to?
-We're just stacking some hay.
-And is this ordinary hay?
This is no ordinary hay.
We've got around 30 species, say, in this,
whereas your sort of lay pastures would have seven or eight.
It's not just grass, it's things like birdsfoot trefoil,
-orchids, other bits and pieces.
-Which is all in the hay.
Which is all in the hay, which all gets fed to the cattle here,
which then comes out the rear end and goes back on the farm.
Exactly as it would have been done 100 years ago.
Exactly as it would have been 100 years ago.
You smell this, you'll smell summer.
It's lovely and green, you can see the difference species.
-We've got yellow rattle in here.
My analogy is that the silage that you get on farms nowadays,
it's like going to any fast food outlet.
But eating this is like coming home to mum for a Sunday lunch.
Oh, wow. That's nice.
And how important are Alfred's diaries?
Oh, fantastically important.
We've actually got his cattle movements,
what he was doing on a day-to-day basis and that will inform
the management of this site from now until the future.
"Mostly cloudy. John came. Lit Rayburn. John went to town.
"Paid my papers and put £300 in bank for me. Came over. Fire up again."
And that's the last entry, apart from this, two days later,
that just says, "Pay milk."
You can see his writing is pretty much illegible and
over the previous few entries, he'd spoken about not feeling too well.
And then, the entries stop.
They're just the plain writings of an ordinary man,
but the diaries of Alfred Price offer us a rare glimpse into our
agricultural past and, just maybe,
a hint to our farming future.
It's harvest time all over Herefordshire.
In the orchards, farmers are busy, getting in nature's bounty.
Pears to make perry and apples for cider.
The trees here are dripping with fruit.
Playing out behind me is
a harvesting scene unchanged in centuries. But what may not
be apparent from that is that elsewhere on this farm,
they do things a little bit differently.
This is Broom Farm in South Herefordshire.
60 acres of orchards, ancient and modern,
tended by third-generation cider maker Mike Johnson.
Mike depends on a good crop of fruit,
so orchard pests are an ever-present threat.
We had a problem last year in the apple orchards with ermine moth
cos they put these webs all over the trees and then
the little black caterpillars would come out and eat the leaves
-all round, go back in.
-How much damage were they doing?
They eat the leaves, do they, caterpillars?
They eat the leaves and then, of course,
the tree can't make the fruit bud for the blossom the following year.
And I looked into how to treat it and I didn't want to do spraying,
I just wasn't happy with spreading them all out in the environment,
so I decided to make 100 bird boxes and spread
them all round the farm and it seems to have worked.
By inviting the birds to move in,
Mike has seen the problem with caterpillars drop right off.
Encouraged by this,
he has further plans for nocturnal pest control too.
It's just blue tits and great tits in these boxes?
Apart from one, when we were checking them out,
-there was a bat in one of them, so we left that alone.
-And next year's project is bat boxes.
Well, the blue tits, the great tits eat the caterpillars.
-The bats will go after the moths themselves.
That's what I was thinking.
But just how effective are the birds at dealing with Mike's pests?
That's what PhD student Charlotte Selvy is finding out.
And she has a really novel method,
using camera traps and modelling clay.
Charlotte, what have you got here? What is going on?
I've got some modelling clay caterpillars,
so I'm going to be putting these on the different parts of the tree
and I stick them on and then leave the camera trap on
for 24 hours and I come back and see if any birds have pecked them.
So are these caterpillars supposed to look like any particular
So these ones are supposed to look like tortrix moth caterpillars.
So you might get different blue tits or great tits coming along
and they'd leave a little peck mark and then that would be an indication
to me that there's been a predation attempt.
So this is what it looks like when a bird's had a go.
So there are different types of marks.
That one's just like a little peck mark, so they've just been
tasting it, really, to see if it is actually food or not.
-Very light, very gentle and very kind of clean and sharp.
-That one's more probing, so it's just kind of...
-Speared it slightly.
Speared it. Yeah.
You really see the benefit of the soft modelling clay, don't you?
-Very clear, the marks.
-That's a much bigger one, isn't it?
So it's kind of like a swipe that they've made with their beak there.
And you've made quite a few of these?
-I've made nearly 5,000 of them.
While Charlotte is looking solely at the biodiversity of apple
orchards, her work may have wider significance for
all fruit farmers battling pests.
So, where am I going to put this? I've got my little kink in it.
-You need some glue.
This is where I end up being stuck to a tree for the rest of the day.
It's quite good, this one, cos it doesn't run so much.
-Go on, stick.
It's a bit dewy.
Doesn't that look appetising?
So the idea here is they're visible to birds nearby or flying around?
Yeah, they don't have to be really visible.
It's actually quite amazing that they find them.
Over all of the orchard, there might just be 16 caterpillars and
sometimes a bird finds those and will peck it.
So I'm trying to see how much pest control they can actually do
for the farmer's benefit.
And how much that's worth to the farmer.
And Mother Nature is coming to the rescue
in other orchards on the farm.
Mike's nephew Toby Lovell is using his flock of Shropshire sheep
to help keep the orchards disease-free.
Come on, then!
Come on, come on, come on!
Once the apples are picked, the sheep move in to clear up.
And so all these leaves on the ground, some of these low
growing leaves, that's what they're going to come in and clean up.
Yeah, that's right. We hope that by clearing all the leaves,
they'll reduce the environment for fungal spores to overwinter.
The sheep get rich, fresh grazing
and because they keep the grass down, there's no need to mow.
And unlike other breeds, Shropshires don't eat the apple tree bark.
That's why we chose the Shropshire breed.
We learned that there was a demand for them in Scandinavia and France
to graze in Christmas tree plantations and orchards and
thought that we could try a similar thing here.
And they're basically known to have a disposition to not eat the bark
around the trunk of the trees.
If they did sort of start eating away at the bark at the bottom,
-that would basically kill the tree, wouldn't it?
-Yeah, it would. Yeah.
I'm really quite taken with what's going on here,
using nature and natural processes to aid and maintain these orchards.
It just kind of feels right, but actually,
with Charlotte's research, very soon there'll be more than gut feeling.
There'll actually be scientific evidence to show
just how effective it is.
Now, earlier, we heard how some unscrupulous fishing boat owners
are treating foreign workers like slaves,
so what's being done about it? Here's Tom.
The UK fishing fleet employs about 12,000 people.
One in ten are from outside Europe.
Out at sea, these foreign workers can, in some extreme cases,
be working untrained, unsafe and even unpaid.
It's beginning to be recognised as a form of modern slavery and
moves are under way to stop it.
This is the Border Force cutter by the name of Searcher.
Today, she's going to be patrolling
the approaches to the English Channel off here in Penzance
and we're going to be joining her.
'This team from the UK Border Force are checking for rogue
'fishing boat skippers who exploit workers.'
This target's just under two miles away.
And as you can see, there's no vis at all.
'Graham Lindsay is using radar and tracking devices
'to identify potential targets.'
I've got a vis on the target. Sailing vessel. It's a yacht.
'Private yachts can be used to traffic workers between
'fishing boats, so even they come under scrutiny.
'It's time to send in the boarding party.'
Hello, Border Force. Customs and Immigration.
We're going to come on board. We've got some questions, OK?
My colleague's just going to have a quick look downstairs,
make sure everything's OK, OK?
On board the yacht, Graham and Andy search the living quarters
for anyone who shouldn't be there and check the paperwork.
I guess it's a bit of a surprise to some people to see
a big boat looming out of the mist and then us approaching on this.
They must feel a bit nervous. But if they've got nothing to hide,
presumably they just think it's an entertaining variety in the day.
Foreign nationals entering the UK,
so we've been able to check that out.
We'll run their identity cards through to our central offices
and they'll be able to give them inward clearance.
In this case, the holiday-makers get the all-clear
and continue on their way, while we rejoin the mother ship.
This Border Force team look impressive,
but with so much open sea and so many fishing boats out there,
is it literally a drop in the ocean?
'Back on dry land,
'I'm meeting the new Minister for Modern Slavery, MP Sarah Newton.'
Can you tell me what's changed with the Modern Slavery Act,
what can happen now that couldn't happen before?
The aim is to give law enforcement all the tools that they need
to find the perpetrators of this absolutely horrendous crime.
They now have the powers to go on to a vessel where they suspect
that there is trafficking or slavery.
They can then take the people, take those victims into safety ashore.
They can take the people who've committed these dreadful crimes
into custody, into police stations, and then,
obviously, go through their investigations from there.
They couldn't do that without these maritime powers.
If the Government is serious, I wonder when will exploited
workers, like those I met earlier, see justice in the courts?
These powers only came into force on August 8th,
so we'll be keeping a very careful eye
on how they are used and hope very much
that there will be prosecutions arising from them.
Back with the Border Force, we have a trawler in our sights.
He's got the fishing gear out the back,
which makes it an extra challenge getting on
and also, as you can see, it's fairly choppy.
Still, they're going to give it a go.
'And this time, I'm with the team as they board the vessel.'
Hi, I'm Tom, from Countryfile. Nice to see you.
'Cornish skipper Mike Pengelly takes it in his stride.'
How many crew have you got on board?
There's three of us.
Two is enough, but because I've got my two sons...
You don't have any foreign crew on board,
-as in EU or non-EU crew?
-No. Never, no.
-Have you ever employed or had to employ any...?
When we go on board,
we're looking for foreign nationals, evidence of people
living on the boat long-term and people that are maybe
not too keen to speak to us for...
for fear, maybe, of the skipper.
Have you ever heard of people, you know, cutting corners a bit on crew?
Well, perhaps, if they're not earning so much,
where there might have been three hands,
they might only do two hands now.
How do you get your crew? How do you find them?
I breed mine, I have my two sons!
'We let Mike and his hard-working sons get on...'
This is the tricky bit.
'..but not before he gives me a steadying hand
'back on to the Border Force rib.'
'Campaigners say modern-day slavery
'is a stain on the good name of our fishing industry.
'Finding rogue skippers is like looking for a needle in a haystack,
'but with their new stop-and-search powers,
'vessels like this could help end slavery in our waters.'
MATT: It's harvest time in Herefordshire,
a county famed for its pears
and the perry, or pear cider, made from them.
'It's a drink loved by cider expert Gabe Cook.
'He champions traditional farm perries
'and the old-time pears that they're made from.'
These are really old-fashioned varieties that have been grown
in this area for centuries, for hundreds of years,
for the specific purpose of making perry
and what is really special for me
is that these are varieties that are very much of this landscape.
They are named after individual villages,
sometimes they're named after individual farms and properties.
You know, these are varieties
that have the same points of difference as grapes do with wine,
so they are all quite different and quite unique,
with different flavours you can get from them.
There is one special place of pilgrimage for Gabe -
the grounds of a 12th-century manor
and its spectacular avenue of rare and ancient pear trees,
nursed in their dotage by gardener David Maddison.
So, David, this is a pretty significant driveway
-as far as perry pear trees are concerned.
-Well, it is.
For a start, it's historically significant. It was planted in 1710
to commemorate the coronation of Queen Anne.
-Right, wow! A long time ago, then.
-A long time ago,
which places some of our oldest trees at 360 years old.
'Of all these rare varieties,
'there's one in this avenue that is the Holy Grail -
'the only mature Water Lugg pear tree surviving on the planet.'
This... This is a bit of living history right here.
It's really important that the likes of the team here,
David and co, do take cuttings to propagate
so that the genetics...
this variety can continue to exist, because it will get lost.
Yeah, and it may look a little bit worse for wear,
but to be fair, very impressive
that it's still delivering fruit. I mean, look at that!
Absolutely, it is quite magnificent and huge and still fruiting
and, you know, perry is still made from it.
Surely there's as much conservation and biodiversity value
in saving this variety of pear tree as with an animal, you know,
it really is an important part of the ecosystem
and of our natural flora
and it's really important to hang onto it.
'This ancient tree is spared
'the rough-and-tumble of the commercial pear harvest.'
In modern orchards, it's done by machinery...
'..but the traditional way involves a panking pole.'
You just have to do that with one hand and the other one...
I just got one right on the end of the nose!
'It's a bit of a headache, to be honest.'
GABE CHUCKLES HEARTILY I just got a beauty!
I just got an absolute beauty.
Not always the easiest of jobs,
but absolutely crucial to next year's vintage.
'Well, as they say, no pain, no gain.
'Later, I'm going to be pressing these to make perry.
'Just need a few more to fill the sack.'
Here's that panking pole. Watch your heads, everyone.
Oh! What do you know?!
Hey, it's that reminder time, look.
It's the Countryfile calendar, sold in aid of Children In Need
and if you haven't got your hands on one yet,
here's John with all the details.
It costs £9.50 including free UK delivery.
You can go to our website,
where you'll find a link to the order page,
or you can phone the order line on...
If you'd prefer to order by post,
then send your name, address and a cheque to...
A minimum of £4 from the sale of each calendar
will be donated to BBC Children In Need.
Our breathtaking countryside never stops working for us.
For farmers, each season brings something new.
This week, Adam is finding out about a harvest
that is quite literally turning up the heat
with an invasive plant that was a feature of our landscape
well before farming took hold.
Most of our countryside was once woodland.
It's been cleared over thousands of years to make way for farmland.
It's as simple as that.
We work the land hard to put food on our tables,
so it's important for farmers to manage the countryside responsibly.
I set aside 50 acres for wildlife
to ensure farming and nature thrive side-by-side,
but not all species are welcome on the farm,
especially those that can have fatal consequences.
Believe it or not,
there is actually a Weed Act of 1959 and it specifies five weeds -
common ragwort, spear thistle, creeping thistle
and a couple of types of dock -
and it requires landowners to take action as may be required
to prevent the spread of the weeds.
And I'm doing just that.
Ragwort has always been quite bad on this part of the farm,
despite our best efforts, and it produces these yellow flowers
from July to about now
and it's very poisonous, particularly to cattle and horses.
They tend to avoid it when it's in its green state like this,
but if it gets mown and ends up in hay,
it can have a serious effect on their liver.
And although it's not against the law to have it on your farm,
if you end up with too much,
the government can come in and make you remove it,
but as a responsible farmer,
it's sensible to try and get rid of it on your own land
and to stop it blowing onto your neighbours'
so the best way to do that is to pull it by hand
to get the whole root system.
And you have to wear gloves
because the sap from the plant can cause damage to my liver too.
Other plants on the Weed Act
are ones many farmers have problems with, like thistles.
Thistles pop up all over the farm,
in the arable fields and in the pastures like this.
They are a really robust plant,
with prickles all over them that prevent animals from eating them.
They've got a very clever reproduction system,
that they will go under the ground in roots and then pop up
all over the place and when they flower and go into the seed,
the seed will just blow on the wind and go all over the farm.
Despite our best efforts, it's a never-ending battle.
Another invasive species that has ancient roots is bracken.
Fossil records suggest that it dates back around 55 million years.
It has adapted to survive all over the world.
There are 2.5 million acres growing wild across Britain
and, in some parts of the country, it's a major problem.
I've come to the Mendips in Somerset to meet Les Davies.
He knows all about this intrusive plant.
-Lovely spot, shame about the weather!
Well, Mendip sunshine!
Now, as a warden here, how much of a problem was this bracken,
because it is everywhere, isn't it?
Yeah, I was Mendip Warden up until about 2009
and this was a real, real problem here.
It's just totally invasive.
And then how does it develop, how does it grow and sort of encroach?
It's got a root system underneath
that the shoots actually come up from,
so what it's doing, it's creeping forward all the time
and it's throwing the shoots up and this is like...
almost like, I suppose, an ice floe that gradually moves forward,
like a glacier.
I've heard it did actually survive the Ice Age,
so it must have put on a coat
-and went underground!
And, so, would they have used it in the past?
It was part of the common
that they would cut bracken for cattle bedding. Of course, that...
Probably the Second World War was the last time it was cut
and then straw superseded cattle bedding, but, yes,
it was cut, it was cut from a lot of the lower slopes down here.
And you look across the Welsh mountains, the Scottish mountains,
you know, all over the uplands in the UK, you find bracken.
It's everywhere, it's everywhere within the UK.
The thing we are looking at now with it
is, you know, what can we do with it?
I mean, the common has always been about producing and I think nowadays
we're going back to something like that.
'There may be a clever solution to this problem.
'Barry Smith and his team
'are busy harvesting bracken that can be used as fuel
'and, on a day like today when the seasons are changing,
'it's bringing a much-needed spark to our autumn fires.'
Hi, Barry. This looks like a serious operation.
So, you're cutting down the bracken?
Yes, we're cutting bracken to make this.
This is a brackette and it's ideal for log burners and open fires.
Amazing! So, you're really taking a sort of waste plant
and making it into something very usable.
I suppose, when you've removed it, it benefits the land, does it?
Well, it benefits the land enormously.
By cutting bracken on a regular basis,
we're reducing the suffocating canopy,
which encourages flora and fauna to flourish.
So, how much have you cleared here? It looks like a lot.
Well, there's 500 acres here in total
and I think we've probably cleared 250 of those acres.
So, this is the mowing. What else is happening?
Let me show you.
So, they're just raking up the bracken
like you would straw on a field. When was this cut?
This was cut about two weeks ago,
so we cut it, actually, when it was in a green state,
we've let it die, but we wait before we bale it
to get results in from where we test the bracken
because it can have carcinogens in it when it spores.
Now, we understand that when the plant dies,
the carcinogen dies with it.
Now, carcinogens can be a cause of cancer,
so we take this really seriously
and so we don't give the thumbs-up to bale it
until we've got the all-clear from the testing.
And once it's in rows like this, the baler just goes through it
and makes an ordinary bale like you would in an arable field?
Yes, exactly the same.
So, does it extend the season, then, for the contractors
because harvest is now over?
We're extending the harvest by a good couple of months
and also creating jobs in rural areas.
It's amazing that you can take this old bracken
and make it into a fuel that heats up a roaring fire
and, on a day like today, I'm going to need a fire tonight!
Where do the bales go now?
Well, they go down over there, into the mist.
At this time of year, the factory is fed a constant supply of bracken.
It's chopped and loaded into the dryer
and processed through a machine that compresses it into brackettes,
the first of their kind.
Then they're ready to burn.
I'm keen to put them to the test.
I've been looking forward to seeing these things burning.
I'll chuck one on the fire.
'Barry has invited me to warm up at his home,
'along with two of his colleagues
'who have also been working on this unique project.'
Hot, isn't it, Dickie?
It burns very well.
It actually burns hotter than oak and lasts considerably longer.
And lovely to see, you know, that bracken up on the hill,
that's causing some problems up there, being put to good use.
-Are there any other advantages?
-Well, the ash is high in potash,
so it can go straight on the garden and makes an ideal fertiliser.
So, can I toast a crumpet?
Please, go ahead.
Well, as the nights are drawing in,
it's a really lovely warm fire to sit next to
and I quite often use the phrase "from field to fork",
but here it's from field to flame!
-The Marches along the border between England and Wales
is perfect walking country.
There are few main roads and gentle pastures give way
to steep slopes that lead to open hilltops.
All you need is a sturdy pair of boots,
or even a sturdy pair of clogs.
'Jeremy Atkinson is the last craftsman in England
'to carve clogs in the traditional way.
'Right now, he's gathering some raw materials.'
Now, that is not the traditional hand tool I was expecting.
-It is a hand tool, though.
-No, it is a hand tool, you're right.
So, what type of wood are you chopping down here?
-This is sycamore, it's a type of maple.
It's the most durable of the clog woods,
but you have to work it green.
When it dries out, it hardens up.
I am so intrigued to find out
how this will turn into something to put on my feet.
-Have you got some on now?
Are those clogs?! They're so smart! They are brilliant!
That is not what I was expecting at all!
-Yeah, well, a clog is a composite of leather and wood,
that's what a clog is.
And who would wear clogs?
In some of the valleys, everybody.
You can go right through Europe and they were in Poland,
they were in Switzerland, they were in northern Italy,
they were in Galicia...
But it needs a thin soil.
They're not very good on heavy soil, so in Herefordshire,
it seems to have disappeared about 1850.
-It clogs up!
-But... There you go!
That is where "clog up" comes from,
you just pick up mud and that sticks to more mud
and you end up standing on stilts.
'Clogs have been worn in Britain since medieval times
'and in the little town of Kington,
'it's easy to feel that you've stepped back in time.
'There are two butchers, a greengrocer and fishmonger,
and a clog-maker.
Right, well, I'll show you the knives.
It does feel like we've stepped back in time in your workshop, Jeremy.
'Jeremy uses tools that were specifically made for the job...
'..and which have survived from days gone by.'
I thought it might have been something more dainty and small.
Oh, you're just going for it!
Yeah, you don't really want that to go through your hand.
No, that's why I took a step back!
It's starting to take a clog-like shape.
Yeah, it's starting to.
'Jeremy uses these huge knives to shape, hollow and groove the wood
'to precise specifications.
'It's a process of focused power and subtle control.
'A combination of knowledge, experience and attention to detail.
'And the true craftsman's love of the materials.
'In just a matter of hours, Jeremy transforms raw tree trunks
'into bespoke clogs, handmade to fit individual feet.'
I get quite a big sideline making shoes for people
that have got arthritis or gait problems or foot problems.
You can angle the foot bed slightly, the heel bed slightly,
to try and straighten up a fallen arch
and then people with very broad or very narrow feet,
people with bunions.
But recently, I've had quite a lot of work
just making for people who...
They find it painful to bend their feet,
so they're able to walk naturally without actually flexing their foot.
-Can you wear them all day long?
-Well, I do.
Do you? Do you wear them every day?
Yeah, I mean, I've got shoes,
but I think I've worn my shoes two days this year.
'Although some of the designs Jeremy uses
'have been around since Elizabethan times,
'they are still bang up-to-date.'
The colour is fantastic.
-I mean, that's a modern twist, right?
-Oh, yeah, yeah.
They are... They are so cool!
-I'm going to try it on, I'm going to have to.
I don't... Obviously, it's not for my foot, but what do you think?
Well, sit yourself down, we'll have a look.
This is so exciting!
-I don't know if...
It's like Cinderella! The shoe fits!
-You can stand up in them.
-Yeah, I'd love to.
They feel fantastic!
They are really comfortable.
They feel... Well, they're quite smooth.
Not what I was expecting at all. I think putting these clogs on...
There is something magic in these clogs.
-All of a sudden, everything here makes sense.
It might to an outsider, it doesn't always to me!
'If all this clog talk
'has made you want to stride out in the week ahead,
'you'll want to know what the weather's doing.
'Here's the Countryfile forecast.'
We are in Herefordshire, amongst the perry pear orchards.
Earlier, I saw pear cider-making on an industrial scale,
but now I'm going to be making perry the traditional way,
with a shoulder to the wheel and some hard graft.
Well, I've got a nice full load here
and, let me tell you, it's big news around here
when you turn up with a barrel-load of perry pears.
CHEERING Now, then, everyone.
-Right, here we go. Hello!
Wow! You're an impressive dog!
'Here at the 12th-century Hellens Manor,
'they make perry using a 200-year-old mill and press.
'Caitlin Morgan oversees the process.'
-So, just roll them in, yeah?
-Yeah, just roll them in.
All the way round?
Yes, please. That's it.
So, in you go.
-Who's going to help me? What's your name?
-Here we go, then.
It is heavy, Matt, it weighs half a tonne.
And you do need to put your back into it.
There we are, we've got a good technique going now.
'Pulping the pears first means even more juice can be extracted
'when it comes to pressing later.'
You can already see how much of a team effort this is.
Yeah, oh, we're getting a nice porridgy consistency now.
-How many? One? One more?
-One more time!
-Happy with that?
-Happy with that.
PANTING: There we are, team. Well done, that'll do.
-It's a good workout, isn't it?
-Great. So, what happens now?
-We just sit down and drink perry?
-You've got to pick out all...!
-Smells delicious, doesn't it?
-It's good, isn't it?
We're going to scrape it all out and get it over to the press.
OK, then, Caitlin. What a wonderful bit of kit this is.
It's fabulous, isn't it?
'The pulped fruit is layered in sacks called hairs,
'after the horse hair material once used.'
-Is that enough, do you think?
-That's good. So, it's the fold.
I'll come to you.
'The whole stack is called a cheese, as it's like a cheese press,
'and the heavy board on top evens out the pressure of the vice.'
-That's what we like to hear.
'Pure, gorgeous orchard pear juice.'
Look at that!
This will now be barrelled up for five months.
We don't do anything else to it.
It sits, it sits warm, it starts fermenting in about two days
and, in five months' time, we're drinking it.
This is Herefordshire in a glass.
Traditional perry produced by small-scale farmers
from ancient trees in even older orchards.
And that tastes good.
-Matt, this is nice!
-Hello, how are you?
-I'm really well.
Have you been here all day, just doing this?
Well, I have, most of the afternoon, just enjoying myself.
Now, let me tell you about this wonderful little piece of fruit.
Have a little taste, see what you think.
It's very special.
It doesn't really taste... Not the most exciting pear I've ever had!
-Is that a bit disappointing?
-A little bit.
OK, well, to be fair, you have to wait for five months, right,
and then THIS is the result.
Ooh, now... That's what I'm talking about!
Gets you there, doesn't it? Isn't it lovely?
Well, that is perry.
And I think we need to get the nation drinking perry.
I think they'd enjoy it!
You could drink it whilst watching our programme next week.
-What are we doing?
Well, it's a very, very special programme next week
and it's all about your efforts.
Everybody ready to ramble?
'Thousands of you are joining us on Countryfile
'as we stride out on the Countryfile Ramble for Children In Need.'
You don't need me to tell you this, but your daughter is something else!
'We'll be covering all corners of the UK
'and meeting some truly inspiring young people.'
A few more steps, Olivia.
-And we've made it!
'That's the Countryfile Ramble for Children In Need,
'next Sunday on BBC One at 6pm.'
Cheers to everyone who took part
-and cheers to you.
-See you next week!
Matt and Anita are in Herefordshire. Matt looks at the county's historic perry-making industry and helps out with the pear harvest. He starts out at Weston's, the cider makers, who are the world's biggest producers of perry. Then he travels to the 12th-century Hellen's Manor, where some of the rarest and oldest pear trees in the world are to be found. He gathers a sackful and heads to meet self-styled 'ciderologist' Gabe Cook, a man who likes cider but loves perry even more. Together they make perry the old-fashioned way - on a stone grinding wheel with lots of elbow grease.
Anita is at a farm where time has stood still. She recounts the story of Birches Farm and farmer Alfred Price through the diaries he kept. She also visits the last traditional clog maker in Herefordshire to see clogs being made the time-honoured way.
Joe Crowley is with PhD student Charlotte Selvey, who is using caterpillars made of modelling clay to find out what birds are present in the county's ancient orchards. The birds leave beak impressions in the fake caterpillars, which identifies them.
Tom's looking at the appalling conditions endured by some workers on the high seas, conditions which many have described as slavery.
And Adam is on the farm where they're harvesting bracken for fuel.