Countryfile is in Hertfordshire, where Matt Baker meets a farming family who are turning oilseed rape into liquid gold - oil.
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Hertfordshire - the treasure of the Home Counties
boasts some of the finest farmland in the country.
In the summer, these fields light up as the oilseed rape crop flowers.
I'll be meeting the farming family
who are pressing their own gold from this crop
and the chef who's embracing rapeseed oil's healthy properties.
This will only have a quarter of the saturated fat
of any olive oil on the planet.
And, here in Hertfordshire, the woodland runs thick
and lush through the landscape.
This is Heartwood Forest. It's a mere youngster
compared to the ancient woodlands in the county,
but, like its older and more established cousins,
it's already thriving and bursting with life.
Tom's waiting for a bus that may never come.
I'll be finding out about cuts to rural transport
and asking if we can continue to support bus services
in some of the remotest parts of our countryside.
And Adam's catching up
with one of the most inspirational farmers he's ever met.
-Joan here doesn't know the meaning of retirement. Hi, Joan.
At 83, she's still running the family farm,
coming to markets and going strong
and, last year, her lifetime achievements were recognised
when she won the Countryfile Farming Hero award.
And later in the programme,
I'll be asking for your nominations for this year's awards.
-I'll catch up with you later.
-Thank you, bye.
Hertfordshire - graceful open countryside,
and sweeping skies.
Less than an hour from central London lies this rural county,
rich in prime agricultural land.
I'm visiting a farm in the village of Wilstone, just north of Tring
on the western edge of the Chilterns.
Today, I'm going in search of a crop
that sets our landscape ablaze with colour every summertime.
Rapeseed - in recent decades,
fields of gold have become a familiar sight in our countryside.
Simon Mead's family have been growing rapeseed since the 1980s.
Eight years ago, they began transforming its tiny black grains
into the liquid gold of rapeseed oil.
Now, obviously, Simon, when you're growing this yourself
and you're trying to produce the finest oil you can,
protection is the key and that's why we're carrying this stuff here.
Yes, Matt, the pigeons are starting to become a bit of a nuisance.
They've eaten all the beech moss up in the Chiltern Hills
and this is the next crop on the menu.
In a hard winter, when there's not much else for the pigeons
to eat, they can reduce even a crop like this down to ground level.
So we're going to set some up and see if we can scare them off a bit.
So, these are bird scarers.
Basically, you just light the end of the rope
and, as time progresses, the bangers go off.
Yeah, every half an hour they go off and it scares them off.
Establishing this crop initially is quite a tricky process, Simon.
Yes, it gets planted in August and it's in the ground all the way
through to the following July, so it's in the ground for 11 months.
There's lots of opportunity for things to go wrong,
but once it's up and away like this crop here,
we don't seem to have many problems.
In the spring,
rapeseed produces yellow flowers that turn into seed pods.
By midsummer, the pods have dried out and the seeds turned black.
It's these seeds which are pressed to create the oil.
We get about three and a half to four and a half tonnes a hectare,
which is about the size of a football pitch.
That should produce about 2,000-2,500 bottles off a hectare.
-So, off this field, we're getting about 32,000 bottles.
OK, right, let's get this sorted out so you can get rid of these pigeons.
'Simon's crop has already become a buffet for the birds today
'so it's time to light the bangers.'
-That's it so we'd better get out the way.
There must be 300 or so up there. I saw a flock as I came in.
Once harvested, the rapeseed grains are dried and stored,
then cold-pressed and bottled on the farm.
The result is 100% pure rapeseed oil.
Right, so it's from your fields, through the press and into here.
It's like a science lab.
Yeah, it's all been filtered before it gets here, Matt.
And this is Alex, your son.
That looks like quite a tricky job, you've got to be quick, eh?
Yeah, we're flying at the minute, yeah!
'As well as making pure rapeseed oil,
'Simon has recently started using the oil to create a new product.'
Right, so the seasoning and the sugar has already gone in.
This is a bowlful of mustard
and we're in the process of making some mayonnaise, then, Simon.
Yes, it's a natural progression to go down, Matt.
There's lots of oil in it. 70% of a good mayonnaise is oil.
Has it been quite a steep learning curve?
-We split a few batches before we got it right.
-Next is egg yolk.
Yes, a free-range egg yolk.
Right, so that's all the ingredients in there?
Yes, all the main ingredients.
All we've got to do now is introduce the oil slowly.
Ow! That's, erm... That's mustardy at the moment!
Let's get it all mixed up nicely before we start introducing the oil.
Oh, yeah, look at the difference.
-You can stir the outside into the middle, Matt.
-You've made a nice mayonnaise there, Matt, well done.
And there you have it - my very first jar of mayonnaise.
'Even the leftover seed husks
'are a useful by-product from the oil making.'
Once the rapeseed has been through the pressing process,
nothing goes to waste,
as these cows and Simon's cousin Chris will now demonstrate.
There you go, Chris.
Thank you very much.
So there's still a lot of goodness left
in this waste from the oil process.
Yes, there is. It's very high in protein.
Let me jump over the gate
-and I'll give you a hand feeding them.
The protein builds muscle and the oiliness of the feed
creates very little dust so it's less irritating
to the cow's nose and throat.
There you go, Matt, you have a go.
'These cows certainly seem to enjoy it, and later, I'll be finding out
'if the oil goes down as well with the customers of Simon's farm shop.'
Now, rural buses are a lifeline for many people,
but, as Tom's been finding out, it's claimed that more
and more villages are being cut off by the loss of local services.
Deep in the heart of the countryside,
you can wait a long time for a bus.
A very, VERY long time.
And, with councils all over the UK cutting millions
from their transport budgets, the wait could get even longer.
And for some rural communities, the bus might not come at all.
Indeed, the one I'm waiting for,
after March, is going to be scrapped.
Hello, mate. Bolton Abbey, please.
'One of the areas hardest hit is here in Yorkshire,
'where 146 bus services have been cut,
'altered or withdrawn in the past two years.
'It's a similar picture across the country.'
In total, over 1,000 supported bus services in England
and Wales have been affected since 2014.
And, according to the Campaign For Better Transport,
it's hitting rural areas the hardest.
In the past, it's had a devastating effect on the elderly,
but now, increasingly, it's affecting the young.
Robyn Conmee is an apprentice wedding planner.
With no bus services connecting her rural Lancashire village,
her journey to work is harder than most.
Tell me about your struggle to actually get in to work.
Well, it's quite hard with the timings for work.
Because I live quite rurally,
now and again, I have been late for work,
which has got me in a bit of trouble before now, yeah.
It's quite a journey, especially if I get the bus.
It's about a 30-minute walk and then a six-minute bus journey,
so, yeah, it takes a lot of time.
It's just a shame that we haven't got a bus service
that runs from where I live.
It's quite frustrating.
Well, life isn't just about work. What about your social life?
-How does transport affect that?
-It really affects it.
My friends live further out than I do.
It's a case of getting there,
it's just easier to say, "Oh, I'll give this one a miss."
Robyn is not alone in being at the mercy of public transport.
That's because nearly two thirds of job-seekers
either have no access to a vehicle or cannot drive.
Check on. One chips, one mozzarella bonbons.
OK, nice and quick, that's it.
With more and more bus services being cut,
hotel boss Carol Sleet is finding many young apprentices are being
put off from working by the cost of finding other transport.
OK, next things up.
Oh, look at that!
-There we go.
-Wow, looks fantastic! I get served by the boss, too.
It's not going to happen often.
So, tell me, how tricky is it for your business getting young staff?
It's really tricky. Young people just can't afford it.
It's so expensive.
The buses are really expensive, taxis are even more expensive.
The apprenticeship wage is, I think, £132 a week,
and, when you're asking people to spend,
it can be nearly £100 a week in transport.
They think to themselves, "What's the point of going in to work?"
And you're actually finding that, are you?
Do you have examples of places where you've got the spaces to work
if you've got the people willing,
-but joining the two up...
-I have an apprenticeship place
in every single one of our venues that I have to practically beg
to find somebody to come and work in them.
For young people living in rural areas,
buses can provide both independence and the ability to work,
and for the elderly,
they're a lifeline from isolation and loneliness.
But, across the country,
buses have been hit by a vicious cycle of falling passenger numbers,
rising fares and cuts to services -
a process exacerbated by severe reductions
in local authority budgets.
In recent years,
getting on for £50 million has been cut
from supported bus funding across the UK,
although the figures from Northern Ireland do include trains.
And, just in England,
11 local authorities aren't spending anything at all.
So, what is the impact on rural communities?
-Good morning, Martin.
-How are you doing?
Taking advantage of the local produce
-while you're here?
-What have you got there?
This is Kit Calvert, this is made just up the road.
-That's the top of the range.
-Thanks very much.
'Martin Abrams is from the Campaign For Better Transport.
'He believes that,
'despite commercial operators stepping in
'to run some profitable bus services,
'important isolated routes have disappeared completely.'
You say local authorities have cut their budgets,
but haven't those just been replaced by commercial operators
-and maybe there's been no loss?
-Well, no, there hasn't.
Over the past decade, supported bus services,
those funded by local authorities, have lost about 55 million miles.
In the same timeframe,
commercial operators have only increased their operations
by about 13 million miles so they haven't picked up
the overall shortfall in the loss of supported services.
So you think money spent in public transport is a good investment?
Absolutely. It's a necessary investment.
For every £1 that's invested in buses,
they generate up to £5 in wider economic benefits.
We're here in Leyburn on a busy, bustling market day
and these towns really rely on bus services
to get people to the market,
to get people to spend their money in their local economy.
If you take services away,
then it's places like this that are going to be hit really hard.
So, along with the obvious environmental benefits,
the economic benefits of bus services appear to stack up too.
As rural buses are cut back,
some people risk being cut off from jobs, services and shops.
But it's not bad news everywhere.
As I'll be finding out later, some rural communities
are joining together to run the service for themselves.
Mighty and magnificent, these natural skyscrapers -
our trees - make us feel very small.
We're so used to looking up at the canopy that it's easy
to think they've always been here, towering over us.
But they were young once - small and fragile
and barely recognisable as trees.
This is just a baby forest, but it's destined for great things.
Each of these spindly saplings is a native British species
and there's everything here from oak to hornbeam, birch and willow.
It's the largest new native forest in Britain
and it's called Heartwood.
By the time it's finished,
there will be more than half a million trees
covering 850 acres of former arable land.
I'm particularly excited to be here
because it's not my first visit to Heartwood Forest.
'Back in 2011, I helped plant some of these trees.'
Here we've got an oak for you.
-These are supposed to be the hardest ones, aren't they?
-They can be.
-Some of the roots are quite big on them.
-Mind how you go.
'Louise Neicho from the Woodland Trust has been in charge
'from the moment the first tree was planted.'
Hi, Louise, it's good to see you again.
-Hi, welcome back to Heartwood.
-Thank you very much. It's been a while!
In fact, I thought I might recognise this, but it's changed so much.
It has changed.
We've actually planted half a million trees
-since the last time you were here.
Your aim was 600,000.
Yeah, so obviously 100,000 still to go, still a lot of work to do.
'I want to see how the trees I planted are coming along.'
-Here we go.
-This was the area we planted.
-Could it be this one?
-It could be!
-Oh, look at that. It's still growing.
-Louise, you're being very kind. Tell Ellie the truth.
-It's not mine!
-Mine died! I knew it!
-I didn't know what to say!
-Which one is mine?
-Is it that gap?
-It's the gap!
-Oh, no! I can't bear it.
There's a lovely big gap in my memory, that's nice!
But when you're planting a forest on this scale, 350 hectares,
when you've got little gaps like this, that is absolutely fine.
'I do have a chance to redeem myself, though.
'Every single tree in Heartwood Forest is planted by a volunteer.
'34,000 people have been involved since the project began in 2009
'and a hardcore bunch are out today in force.
'They're creating an arboretum.
'It will showcase 10,000 native British trees,
'all of which are being planted this winter.'
-How is it going, Pam?
-Nice to see you again.
-I'm just popping a nice oak tree in here.
-What are you going to do?
-I'm going to do one, too.
-I'm going to go right next to you here.
And what about doing all this outdoor work in winter?
-Do you not mind it?
-Oh, no, no, no, so long as it's not TOO awful.
No, we've got waterproof skins and we're built for outdoors
if you wrap up warm
and it's lovely to do something that's useful for the world.
'Only six years into its life and people are already getting
'so much out of Heartwood Forest.'
And wildlife is too.
Forests, even young ones, are incredible habitats
and, if you're up early enough, there's a good chance you'll see
some of the animals that have made Heartwood their home.
'It's early. The sun will soon be rising,
'but I'm going to see what creatures the night has left behind.'
As the land turns from arable fields to forest,
it's really important to understand how the environment is changing
and the small animals in that ecosystem can tell us an awful lot.
-Yes, we've got something.
-The trap has dropped, has it?
'Ian Flack and Brian Legg are volunteers who carry out
'an annual survey of Heartwood's small mammal population.
'Ian is licensed to handle rare and protected species,
'but we're OK with this one - the common wood mouse.'
-Here's the next one.
-You've camouflaged it well in there.
Well, that's the aim.
'These are humane traps containing bedding
'and food to keep each animal comfortable.'
-There he goes.
-Ooh, is that a vole?
-It is a vole.
-It's a vole, yeah. Let's get a weight on this one.
15 and a half grams.
-So I'll just release it.
Even in the small amount of time we've been monitoring here,
we've seen a bank vole and a wood mouse so what does
that variation in small mammals tell us about the ecosystem here?
It tells us that we're already providing all the food
and the cover that they need so they can thrive
and the numbers can build up and what happens then, of course,
is that the birds of prey come in as well
so we've got populations of barn owls, of kestrels
and we get the short-eared owls coming in in the winter.
'Volunteers like Brian and Ian
'really are the beating heart of this project,
'creating a place for all to enjoy - both big and small.'
A field that's slowly transforming into woodland
might look to you a bit spindly and scruffy,
but nature is filling this place with insects, with birdlife
and with mammals, and it's wonderful to think
that future generations might look up into the canopy
and wonder how it all began.
'Now, during the summer, we asked some well-known faces,
-Oh, it's quite refreshing after a while!
'..which area of our magnificent countryside was special to them.'
This week, chef Tony Singh takes us to Loch Awe
in Western Scotland
where he found his passion for fresh produce.
Still beautiful, eh?
I remember coming here 28 years ago,
but it just feels so welcoming.
I was a YTS chef when I was 18 and that led to working here
at Ardanaiseig Hotel and that was the first time,
basically, I'd left home.
The thing I always remember that sticks in my mind
was the loch just round the corner. It was so stunning and...
Wow, there you go. That stayed with me forever.
It just feels exactly the same.
The kitchen there, which was great.
The first kitchen I ever worked in that had windows,
it was just phenomenal.
I wondered why people went out camping or climbing mountains.
"It's a mountain, yeah."
And when you're here, you're intoxicated by it.
I went over to the islands, I wanted to go up there,
I wanted to go trekking and everything
so I was champing at the bit to go out and experience everything.
This is the old boathouse.
This is where I first cast off on my first fishing trip
and what an adventure that was!
-You fancy some fishing, Tony?
I came out and it was beautiful, it was like this.
So we thought we'd go out for a couple of hours,
hopefully catch a trout and put it on the menu.
Fishing rods out, casting off
and then the weather changed, just like that.
Rain came in, it started getting choppy,
panicked, water was coming in
so we tried to head straight back to the shore through the waves
and it just got worse and we ended up about a mile and a half away.
We had to trudge back to the hotel with the engine,
late for work, no fish, soaked, got into trouble,
then we had to go back and tie off the boat. It was a nightmare.
But it never put me off going back out or this view or anything.
This is amazing.
So here I am again and hopefully we'll catch something this time.
Better down the middle there if it's going to snag up.
-Luck's out! It's not going to happen.
-Well, that's fishing.
-Shall we head back?
-That's not a bad idea.
-Come on, then.
Everybody talks about Scotland's larder
being the best in the world and it is,
but it was coming to Ardanaiseig
that really etched it into my psyche.
The produce on our doorstep,
the butcher coming up with the lamb
that he got from the farmer that he knew, catching trout,
the guys going picking wild mushrooms or berries...
There we go, look at that.
Hedgehog mushrooms - we've got some there.
If you're not sure, never eat anything, eh?
Very, very important. Oh, look at that!
We've got a fantastic cep there.
Look at that.
It's been eaten a little bit.
They used to be called penny buns or ceps, you get smaller ones,
but this was an eye opener because, back in the city,
we were getting produce and it was great
and it was fresh and it was lovely, but I didn't connect.
I didn't add one and one together, but now, when we were out
and picking it fresh and seeing it, it was just like a revelation.
It was fantastic.
And it was free so everybody was a winner.
The things that you'd pick up, it had a really profound effect on me.
I've got a recipe from a wee coffee shop in town for scones
and I still use that.
These things do stick with you
cos it always takes you back to good times.
In the pocket!
This is it, this is another amazing memory. This is elemental.
We've got fire, we've got water,
we've got some fantastic brown trout
that we're going to do justice to
with just a little bit of spice and cooked on the fire. This is just...
You can't get better. Look at the view.
So we've got a fantastic brownie here.
Look at that, beautiful!
And we're just going to cook it on the embers of the fire
so we'll make it a little pocket.
Into that, we've got some fantastic thyme from the garden.
Just a little bit of cinnamon in there, some garlic cloves,
some white wine,
some harissa paste, lemon.
That lovely fish, put it in. Make sure you get right in there.
The steam and the juices in there
are going to make the sauce for the fish.
And that's it - a Viking boat.
A fit burial for the brown trout.
We just want the embers there.
This is it. This season I spent in Ardanaiseig
away from home when I was 18...
..in this amazing countryside...
This made me want to be chef.
This was it - this fantastic raw produce that we had.
Words can't describe it, you have to feel it and it's just brilliant.
Earlier, we heard about the huge cuts in bus services
which are leaving those in rural areas increasingly isolated.
But could community-run initiatives
be the answer to the transport crisis?
Tom's been finding out.
The mighty Yorkshire Dales -
a landscape to be explored.
It certainly is an inspiring place to walk,
but with deep, sweeping cuts to bus services here
and across the country, connecting our rural towns
and villages by public transport is becoming increasingly difficult.
-Can I have a day return, please?
-You can, yes.
-There you go, sir, thank you very much.
-Thanks a lot.
Here in North Yorkshire, though,
residents have started to fight back and have gone as far
as providing and effectively running a bus service themselves.
It's got a bit gloomy out there, John. I'm quite glad to be on a bus.
Yes, and it's almost turning into the night bus, isn't it?
Started by ramblers,
the DalesBus was set up to provide much needed access
to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and surrounding communities.
John Disney is one of the directors of the service.
We started off with one service.
We've now grown so that now we're running about 13 different services.
Many of them have got dedicated drivers,
like Keith who's driving our bus today.
And why did you feel so strongly
that this was an important thing to do?
We basically felt that the Dales
should not just be accessible to car users.
There's seven million visitors to York every year,
many of those come from overseas,
but actually relatively few of them venture out into the Dales
because they just don't know how to actually get there.
As council-operated services in the area have been cut,
DalesBus has seen passenger numbers increase.
The big benefit for me is if I get the bus I can go for a long walk
and end up somewhere else and then get the bus back home again.
It's wonderful freedom and the flexibility.
You get off where you want and stay for the rest of the day.
They are a lifeline.
I live in a little village
and without our bus we would be absolutely devastated.
And how often do you think you take it?
Use the buses? Oh, I use them at least three or four times a week.
I also use it to go to hospital.
No longer just providing a service solely for ramblers,
the buses have become vital for many over-60s without access to a car.
On many routes, buses are required by law
to be free for those with a concessionary pass,
but for the Dalesbus this has come at a price.
The Saturday service we operate between Skipton
and Harrogate is doing marvellously in terms of passengers.
But the revenue still falls about £130 a day
short of the operating costs.
Because most of them aren't paying.
Yeah, about 75% of the passengers on that route
are concessionary pass holders.
Councils reimburse bus operators for passengers who use free bus passes,
but many are now cutting the level of that reimbursement
and community enterprises like the Dalesbus
are now struggling to survive.
-Next stop, please.
It seems the unintentional cost of free public transport
is destroying the service for those that need it most.
So why aren't councils able to provide more money to help?
Anything catching your eye this morning, Jonathan?
-These leeks are good.
-They look good.
-They look fantastic.
-Some nice produce here.
'Jonathan Carr-West is the Chief Executive
'of a local government think tank.
'He believes councils simply don't have the money
'to spend on subsidising buses.'
Why is public transport, particularly buses,
being hit so hard in rural areas?
I think what people have to realise is what a tough time
local governments are having financially
and some of the difficult decisions they have to make.
They have lost about 40% of their funding from central government
and 70% of what is left they have to spend on legal obligations.
We all want vulnerable children protected,
we all want our elderly relatives to be cared for -
most people, I think, feel that that is more important than transport.
We have to accept there is a reality that there will be less money
to spend on bus services because there is just less money,
so we need to spend what we do have smarter.
'Ultimately, what councils spend their money on is up to them
'and there are clearly hard decisions to make.'
So what is the solution, do you think,
for public transport in the countryside?
I think there are things that local government can do
and that some councils are doing around the country to use
the little resources they have left more creatively.
You can concentrate on key bus services,
you can wrap around volunteer services,
you can have on-demand minibus services.
And in the end, when you think about transport,
it's not just about vehicles going from one place to another,
it's about how you connect a whole community.
When it comes to protecting rural bus services,
local volunteers and business brains can achieve a lot.
But they are always going to need some help from central government
and we should find out what they're planning
when the Buses Bill is published in the next few months.
I am in West Hertfordshire meeting a farming family in the Chilterns and
finding out more about their latest venture called pressed rapeseed oil.
Entrepreneurship runs in Simon's blood -
the family started off selling their produce from a stall
by the side of the road.
These days, it's from their farm shop and tearooms.
So, where better to put Simon's rapeseed oil to the test
and see how it stands up against its Mediterranean cousin, olive oil?
Simon's wife, Jenny, is helping set up our taste test.
Jenny, I have one quite literally hot off the press here.
So we are going to do a bit of a taste test here, aren't we,
with the customers?
So shall we just tip it in there?
-I'll see how we go.
-I won't be long.
-Hello. Would you like to try a bit of this?
-What is it?
-Which is which?
-Well, you tell me.
-Can I interrupt?
-You certainly can, Matt.
Would you have a little taste and see which one you think is best?
All we are asking you to do is dip that bit of bread into the oil
and see which one you prefer.
Well, they are just two completely different flavours, aren't they?
But that one is so much nicer.
-If I was eating oil...
-That's the rapeseed.
-..I'd have that.
-I like that one best.
-Do you? OK. Interesting. Olive oil.
-I think that one.
-Do you know what that is?
-That's rapeseed oil.
It's always good to have a little nibble.
-Mm, that one.
-You prefer the lighter, do you?
Have you thought about getting hold of one of these?
-I buy one every year.
-Oh, that's fantastic news.
Yes, it is the Countryfile calendar sold in aid of Children In Need
and if you haven't got yours yet, you need to get onto the website quickly.
All the details are on there...
And thank you for buying yours. That's very kind.
Now, last year we asked you to tell us
about your farming heroes for a brand-new Countryfile award.
The response was incredible and it was a tough ask for Adam
and his fellow judges to pick a winner.
Now, we really agonised about this
but we felt that this year's winner went above and beyond,
both as a farmer and as a stalwart of her local community.
The winner is Joan Bomford.
Well, later, we are going to be launching Farming Hero 2016,
but before that, Adam has met up with last year's winner
and if she can't inspire you, nothing will.
Last March, I met Joan Bomford for the very first time.
She has been farming since the 1930s
and at the age of 83 she is still going strong.
So, tell me about your life, then. When did you start working on farms?
When I was about eight, milking.
The most funny thing was that father always dressed me as a lad.
-Why did he do that?
-Well, I think he wanted a lad.
It was Joan's work in the community and her tireless charity work
that made her a farming hero and she has still got bags of energy.
It is such a waste of life to do nothing and sit around, isn't it?
So make the most of it, says I.
The winner is Joan Bomford.
It was an honour to present Joan with Countryfile's
Farming Hero Award at the BBC Food and Farming Awards last April.
Since winning, Joan has attracted all sorts of attention.
I am catching up with her again to find out more.
As the sun rises over her farm in Worcestershire, I know there is
only one place Joan will be - out in the field with her animals.
Up with the lark, hard at work.
-How are you?
-All right, and you?
-Goodness me, working hard as ever!
You have been very busy since I last saw you at the Farming Awards.
On the telly and radio and all sorts, isn't it?
Telly, radio, we went up to London,
-we came down to Bristol for the prize-giving.
-It has been amazing, really.
-And what about this, then?
-I got pestered to do a book.
They said my life was worth talking about, so that's what I did.
-It absolutely is. This is a wonderful photograph there.
It says in the book that you left school at 14. Is that right?
Yeah, well, before, because for the last year I didn't go.
I went one day, that was to pick up my books.
So what would your English teacher have thought
-about you writing a book, then?
-Erm, I don't know.
I expect she would be quite pleased because she did make us try
and write properly, you know.
And all these animals, how many ponies have you got now?
Oh, about 80.
-And how many cattle?
-About the same, yeah.
-That is a big herd of cattle.
-Oh, yes. It keeps you busy.
-Are you coping?
-Yeah, just about.
And I understand you have got some jobs to do with the cattle today.
-Yeah, we are going to Worcester Market with three bulls.
-I'll give you a hand with that, shall I?
-Let's go and get them loaded.
With help from Joan's son Colin, we round up the cattle.
All of her stock are raised for beef
and at 28 months old they are ready to go to market.
83, still driving a lorry. Wonderful!
With Joan at the wheel, we are off to Worcester Livestock Auction.
Joan has been coming to Worcester to sell cattle for more than 75 years.
-How do you mind driving on the roads nowadays?
-I'm all right.
I'm a bit bigger than them.
-OK, let's get them off.
Joan is just handing over all the paperwork.
All the cattle have their individual passports that match up
to their ear tags.
They go down into individual pens and then into the sale ring.
They are being sold for beef today.
-They look nice in there, Joan, don't they?
You have got them well turned out.
Yeah, it's a shame, really, they've got to go, isn't it?
How do you feel about the emotions of bringing cattle to market?
Well, you know it's their last journey
and I suppose you get so used to them and you do miss them.
Yeah, sure. But you are proud of what you are producing.
Yes, that's the main thing, isn't it?
-Yeah, make some lovely beef, won't they?
I particularly like that number 44. That'll make a good price, won't it?
Yes, that's the best one of the two, really, the three, yeah.
And what sort of money do you think they will make?
Erm, well, hopefully 900 to 1,000, maybe.
They might not, they might even go for 600 and it's very disappointing.
Yeah. Well, fingers crossed.
Hopefully they'll make the right price, pay for all that diesel.
OK, then, thank you.
Joan loves coming to the market to catch up with fellow farmers.
To the locals she has always been a farming hero.
You know Joan, don't you? Lovely character, isn't she?
Oh, yeah, yeah. A real worker, a real worker.
I don't think you could find anyone who would work as hard.
She's a miracle lady, isn't she?
Oh, she is a one-off.
I think after they made her they broke the mould.
Well, I hope I am still going that strong when I am 83.
-It's lovely to see you.
-I'm closer to it than you are.
I have got my fingers crossed that Joan's first steer
will command a good price.
Is it a bit of a gamble, bringing the cattle?
Yeah, it is, because you never know what you're going to get.
The cattle need to sell for at least £600 each
for Joan to make any money on them at all.
This auctioneer rattles through it. I can hardly keep up with him.
He doesn't stop, does he?
It's a good start. The first one is sold in seconds.
-1.67 a kilo, live weight.
-So I can't do the maths, but that's over £1,000.
'That has more than made the trip worthwhile.
'A very good price indeed.
'Here comes the next one.'
This next one, you said before it was your favourite one.
-You reckon this one is the best one of the three.
So that's just over 600 kilos as well.
-That's nearly 1,100 quid on that one, isn't it?
'Another good price. The third one also sells for something similar.'
-They've done well, I think, haven't they?
-Yeah, they have.
Somewhere in the region of...
-They averaged over £1,000 apiece, I'd have thought.
-Are you pleased?
-It's a good average, yeah.
And what about you, are you going to retire soon?
-Going to stick with it.
What's the point? What would I do?
I don't know, write another book.
Oh, I can do that in my spare time.
What a remarkable lady you are.
Every time I meet Joan I feel moved by her motivation
and enthusiasm and there's no doubt in my mind that she deserved
to win the Countryfile Farming Hero award last year.
And this year we are launching the awards again,
so we want to hear from you about those special people
in the countryside who go above and beyond.
The award is for a farmer or farming family who have made
a difference through their heroic actions.
The judges want to hear about farmers who have come to the rescue
of others, man or beast, at a time of need.
They could have organised emergency animal housing
for their fellow farmer,
have helped their neighbour when times were bleak.
We will celebrate the achievements of truly remarkable people
who make our countryside a better place.
Our winner will be someone who has gone above and beyond to help
their farming friends and neighbours and of whom we can all be proud.
If you know someone like Joan here who might be a farming hero
then let me know so that we can thank them and recognise them.
And for the nominations...
You better get your skates on because there's only two weeks
to go, starting from today.
Nominations close at midnight on January 24th,
so names sent in after that won't be considered.
Remember, if you are watching us on demand,
nominations may have already closed.
Details, including terms and conditions, are on our website.
I'm only 20 or so miles as the crow flies from Marble Arch.
I could be slap-bang in the middle of London in no time.
But the city feels far, far away.
Rural tranquillity on the doorstep of the capital is a commuter's dream
combination, and a farming county with prime arable land -
Hertfordshire has a lot to recommend it.
No wonder it's not short of a few bob.
It's one of the richest counties
with some of the highest house prices in the UK.
The three most common uses of land in Hertfordshire are towns
and cities, farming and transport.
But what could the fourth be in such a well-off place?
Hertfordshire has 70 golf courses spread all over the county.
When you think about golf, if you picture immaculate fairways
and perfectly-manicured grass, well, you wouldn't be far wrong.
But here at Mid-Herts Golf Course,
they are bringing in something a whole lot wilder.
Heathland, a heather-clad habitat we associate with windswept moors
and untamed uplands, not the Home Counties.
Hertfordshire has lost 97% of its heathland since 1940.
Tim Hill from Herts And Middlesex Wildlife Trust
is trying to bring it back.
So, that habitat once was here in relative abundance.
It was widespread but due to changes in land use,
loss of grazing, it means that a lot of trees were now coming,
a lot of scrub, and it's shaded out the heather.
But why golf courses?
In Hertfordshire, there's over 8,500 acres of golf courses
and most of the heathland that is remaining is on those golf courses.
And there's some of this heather here. Let's have a look at this.
It's really thriving. It's such a surprise to see it.
This is some of the heather that has been restored
and conserved over the last ten years or so.
And how have you gone about getting it here?
Well, it has been a lot of hard work,
a lot of advice given by the Wildlife Trust to make it happen,
but primarily it's down to the groundsman
and his staff that have managed to make it look as good as this.
Jody Wilson is the groundsman at Mid-Herts Golf Club.
This isn't just routine maintenance, this is a carefully planned
operation to help reintroduce the heather.
Jody, stop, stop.
The storm of leaves there! Quite a noisy business, isn't it?
I know you guys are incredibly neat and tidy but this
seems like quite a big step, making sure every leaf is gone.
Yeah, unfortunately with the heather, it hates organic matter
and clearing the leaf is essential for it to grow for us.
Otherwise it gets so smothered, and we try
and encourage the baby heather to come through as well.
-Do you fancy giving us a hand?
-Yeah, I'll have a go.
All right. Hey-hey! Backpack.
It's mine and Jody's job to shift the leaves
and then the tractor comes along to pick them up.
It's really effective.
But getting the heather here in the first place
is a challenge in itself.
Basically, what we've done here, we've lifted some turf because
obviously we are trying to get down to the base of the heather seed
that was originally there
sort of 50, 60 years ago, and then we bring the heather brashings in,
which has got lots of seed in, and then we sprinkle away.
Hopefully, in a couple of years, or perhaps in a year's time,
we will see some really good heather growth.
But what do the club's members make of this added obstacle?
Pippa Legg has been playing golf here for 25 years.
Conservation aside, how is this heathland restoration
good for the game?
Well, the heather, particularly when it's in flower,
is beautiful but it also presents a real hazard that golfers
have to either manage to get out of or avoid.
And then these fine grasses, you can find the golf ball quite easily
but you still need a fair amount of skill to get the golf ball
back out of the rough and onto the fairway.
-I have never played golf but...
..I have got a club and I wouldn't mind you teaching me.
-Right, what do I do?
-Keep your eye on the ball.
Keep your head still and just watch the ball,
and then just take a nice swing.
Ah, well, that was a practice swing, yeah?
Oh, I just don't have this!
Head still, swish the ground.
Oh, I can't even make contact!
There you are, you see?
While Ellie has been searching out small mammals
in the woodlands of Hertfordshire, I have been
following the production of some of the county's home-grown rapeseed oil.
It has already proved popular amongst the customers of the farm shop,
but it can boast another high-profile fan.
Michelin-starred French chef Jean-Christophe Novelli
made Hertfordshire his home more than a decade ago
and opened up his own cookery academy.
You just have to press enough. You see, look. Easy.
If you are not too sure, that is when you cut yourself.
It is here that he shares his gastronomic know-how
and passion for local produce.
And I am very excited because I have been invited for dinner,
and I haven't come empty handed.
-Jean-Christophe, how are you?
-Matt, how are you?
-Nice to see you again.
-I'm very well.
-Listen, I brought you a bottle, OK?
It's not wine, but I think you're going to like this a little bit more.
I will, for sure. This is absolutely fantastic.
First on the menu are roasted winter vegetables.
I have got beetroots, turnips, swedes.
These things, the real food of earth, basically.
I want to have a little bit of this oil
coating around all my vegetables.
Trained in traditional French cuisine, in recent years,
Jean-Christophe has focused more on healthy eating...
-Just roll everything around inside.
This will only have a quarter of the saturated fat
of any olive oil on the planet.
..and now uses barely any butter or salt in his dishes,
so rapeseed oil is the ideal substitute.
That goes in the oven.
The only thing I am waiting now is the smell.
Next up, cranberries left over from the festive season
are put to good use.
A spoonful of honey, spices and a drop of rapeseed oil
bring out their vibrant flavour.
Just a touch.
Please go for it.
Oh, my word!
That is a burst of flavour.
Next on the menu, scallops.
Usually seared in butter, Jean-Christophe's healthy approach
means he uses just a sheen of rapeseed oil.
If you just do it like this, just nice and easy.
-And you know what is funny? You do it on one side only.
I will let you do that. That is quite a lovely feeling, by the way,
because there is where you acknowledge
how good the scallops are.
Do you know, I love your connection to the food.
I just like food and that's it.
If you really want to have a bit of the sea, don't put salt on it
because the fish, or the shellfish...
..will speak for himself. Now, look at that.
And those scallops should not take longer than that.
-So they have all gone rapeseed oil side down.
The secret to scallops is keeping it simple.
Hot pans, bing, bang, out.
A drizzle of oil and voila.
And that's it, it's done.
I see I've chosen the right moment to come in! It smells lovely.
Bonjour, very nice to meet you.
Right, I'll just put that there and that down there.
-And are we be ready to eat now?
-Yes, forks all round?
Monsieur, for you.
-There we are.
-Thank you, thank you, this looks amazing.
-Would you like to tuck in?
-Don't mind if I do.
-Come on over.
Shall I slide down this way so I can get close to the plate?
You are going to love those cranberries.
I'm going to try and get a bit of everything in there.
What a lovely flavour. Lots of sharpness too, which is nice.
You are very lucky, lots of people have been doing a rapeseed oil
test today and this is the finest one of all.
Hey, that is lovely.
-Oh, yeah, that is good.
-Isn't that a rewarding end?
Thank you so much, honestly, for all the tips. I've had a wonderful time.
But that is it for this week.
Next week we're going to be in Gloucestershire.
So until then, bye-bye.
-You can come and do the catering, if you want.
-I'd love to.
Countryfile is in Hertfordshire, where Matt Baker meets a farming family who are turning oilseed rape into liquid gold - oil. Matt visits local celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, who has recognised the product for its health benefits and great taste. Matt helps him whip up a feast.
Ellie Harrison is at Heartwood Forest to see how this new woodland is coming on. She discovers how, after only six years, the woodland is bursting with wildlife. She also visits one of Hertfordshire's seventy golf clubs, discovering how the club is working with the local wildlife trust to encourage heathland to return to the area.
Tom Heap finds out about the claimed cost of cuts to rural transport and asks whether we can continue to support bus services in some of the most isolated parts of the countryside.
We also find out what the great British countryside means to chef Tony Singh as he returns to Loch Awe in the Western Isles of Scotland.
And Adam Henson revisits Joan Bomford, winner of last year's Countryfile Farming Hero award at the Food and Farming Awards, and calls out for this year's nominations.