Countryfile is in Shropshire, where John Craven visits a seed bank and Ellie Harrison is on the hunt for the elusive Shropshire pine marten.
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Shropshire, a rural county, residing where England meets Wales.
And it's here that something is happening
that could change the face of our woodlands for ever.
Ellie's meeting an urban artist with a passion for the countryside.
Matt Sewell may be known for his graffiti,
but it's his characterful sketches of birds
that are capturing everyone's imaginations.
for billions of growing farm animals is no easy task.
So could these little fellows be the answer?
I'll be getting an exclusive look at European trials
where they're feeding maggots to pigs and chickens.
And Adam's in Devon, looking at a whole new approach to animal safety.
On our moors and open commons that are crossed by roads
on foggy days and at night, like now,
the animals are often hit by cars, causing serious accidents.
And hopefully, this special glow-in-the-dark paint
can be applied to the animals and be a solution to that problem.
The hills, farms and woodland of Shropshire
Today, I'm in the heart of the county,
in a woodland tucked between the busy market towns
This year, autumn has been spectacular.
Thanks to the wet summer and mild autumnal months,
the colours of the countryside have been particularly vivid.
But beautiful as they are, not all is well with our British trees.
The threat from diseases and pests is a continual problem.
Two epidemics of Dutch elm disease in the 1920s and '70s
wiped out more than 60 million native elm trees in the UK,
robbing the British landscape forever.
And Dutch elm disease was just the start.
knows the current state of our British trees.
Well, what do you see as the big concerns facing our trees?
Well, I think there are a couple of big concerns.
But I think pests and diseases on trees are a huge issue
We're faced with hundreds of new diseases coming from abroad
and I think some of our trees are going to struggle
I think some of the biggest threats are already here.
So if you think about the larch tree,
but it's currently suffering from Phytophthora.
Chalara of ash is a real concern of ours.
I think particularly because ash is probably our third most common tree.
that it could change the face of some of our landscapes.
And there are some very nasty beetles around at the moment, aren't there?
Yeah, there are some particularly interesting beetles
coming into our country at the moment.
One of them I've got an example of here.
That came in a few years ago on packaging from China.
Fortunately, it was spotted early enough
to mean that we were able to take control measures
That's happening, is it? We're beating this beetle?
So we're beating this one at the moment.
that we have controls in place at our borders,
so we're able to check packaging materials for things like this.
But with more than 800 tree diseases and pests
listed on the government's Plant Health Risk Register,
there's more to be done to protect our woodland.
that our trees will die of pests and diseases.
But I think what we can do is we can plant more trees
And particularly, UK-sourced and grown trees.
Because I think it's really important that we don't, actually,
introduced more pests and diseases into the countryside.
A green shoot of hope comes in the form of tree packs from the Trust,
given out to schools and community groups.
We've planted half a million trees this year
and we're hoping to plant 4? million over the next three years.
To gather the seeds it needs for the project,
the Woodland Trust works in partnership
This is one of the woods where you're harvesting the seeds, then?
Yeah, we're harvesting yew berries here.
Robert Lee and his colleagues harvest 250 native species of seed
The yew tree is not in any great danger at the moment, is it?
But it's important to collect a good stock of the berries.
Yeah, we're aiming to collect seed from native trees
to ensure that what's being planted in the future
we'd hope to have around 100 kilos of seed from these trees.
four or five kilos of seed here at the moment.
The aim is to harvest enough of this seed to last for more than one year.
should there be a crop failure next year.
We have a whole network of people in different parts of the country
that will make some of those collections for us.
So they're waiting for just the right time
to swoop in and get the berries and the seeds?
For some species, there's a window of opportunity of two or three days.
For others, it might be three or four weeks.
Armed with the fruits of today's harvest,
a few kilos of berries and lots of leaves,
we're heading back to the seed sorting unit just outside Shrewsbury.
The contraptions they use here are like nothing I've ever seen before.
This is an old-fashioned winnowing machine.
The machine itself is probably around 100 years old. Wow!
We've just modified it by putting an electric motor onto the machine.
And a cardboard chute, I see. A cardboard chute.
It works by sieving to different sizes.
So we tend to put large sieves in it, small sieves,
to take out all the impurities and just end up with clean seed.
And what have we got over there, Robert?
I mean, that looks really Heath Robinson to me.
This is actually a home-made machine.
It works very, very efficiently, in actual fact. Right.
by using an extractor fan or even a Hoover.
And we can feed the seeds through the machine.
So it's set up so the good seeds that are heavier,
they're falling into the tub. Right.
And any impurities or empty seeds, which are light...
They're blown up. ..they're being sucked out of the machine.
So we do end up with a very, very clean sample.
Every year, Robert and his team grow five million plants
from the gathered seeds for the Woodland Trust.
Then they're sent to nurseries around the UK
by taking some of these saplings to a nearby farm.
Some more trees! Ah, more supplies, lads.
Some more saplings for us. Thanks, John.
But as Tom has been discovering, they can also be a solution.
Deep in the undergrowth, a farming revolution is stirring.
Insects - increasingly being tipped as the food of the future.
Deep-fried grasshoppers or crunchy crickets
are largely seen as novelty foods, quirky canapes
But this...isn't all about me and my tastes.
There are plans to use insects as an ingredient in animal feed.
There are more than 1.2 billion farm animals across the EU
and they can't live on grass and hay alone.
It's high in protein and a staple food for pigs and poultry.
so we ship most of it in from South America.
The problem is that supply is becoming increasingly unreliable.
can no longer bank on endless shipments of soya,
something that concerns the boss, Andrew Richardson.
So how much have we got in here? Round about 30, 35 tonnes.
It's all found its way in from Brazil.
Why is this soya so important to Europe?
and it's got a really good amino acid profile, as well.
So to produce this kind of product within Europe
is quite difficult, because of the climate.
Why can't we just carry on importing this stuff in vast tonnages?
The problem is, we don't want to be chopping down the rainforests.
You know, the 40 million tonnes of these kinds of products
creates a heavy demand on the Earth's resources.
Even though soya production has been blamed for causing deforestation,
it's not a product we can easily do without.
So what would be the impact on our pig and poultry industry
if we just stopped importing it? It's extremely difficult.
You know, the commercial viability of many pig and poultry farms
This conundrum has been dubbed the EU protein deficit
and it's got the farming industry worried,
leading some to think insects could plug the gap.
Nutritionally, there is a strong case.
to work out if insects could be farmed on an industrial scale.
at the Food and Environment Research Agency in York.
This is where I get to see live flies.
Sorry if you're feeling a little bit queasy.
They live in tents and it's their larvae, the maggots,
that end up being fed to fish, pigs and poultry.
Dr Elaine Fitches is coordinating the PROteINSECT project.
The most extraordinary kind of farming I've ever seen.
How on earth do you go about farming a fly?
You can consider the adult flies as the breeding stock.
We make sure that the flies are healthy enough
Each female fly will produce maybe 500 eggs.
The eggs are removed from the tents and placed on trays of manure,
feeding until they're ready to turn into a cocoon or pupa.
That's the final stage of development before becoming a fly.
But just before that happens, nature lends a helping hand.
The maggots wriggle out of the manure on their own
This means they can be easily harvested
How do you kill the maggots and harvest them?
In Europe, there are two options - freezing or heating.
Overall, why are you doing this? Why do think it's important?
The world doesn't grow with the population.
And we have to become more efficient in the production of protein
in terms of protein production per hectare per year.
you could get approximately 150 times the amount of protein
per hectare per year, as compared to soya production.
This is why I'm so passionate about it,
because I really do think this could offer something towards a solution.
So they've figured out how to farm insects,
Countryfile has been given exclusive access
I'll be seeing pigs and poultry feasting on insect meal
and answering a very important question -
I've come to a secret location in the south of Shropshire,
on the hunt for one of the UK's rarest native mammals.
Pine martens were once widespread across the UK,
but in the 19th century, they suffered a massive decline.
Loss of habitat and persecution pushed the pine marten to the brink.
For more than 50 years, they were thought to be extinct in England.
But a chance encounter in these very woods may tell a different story.
Local Dave Pearce was out taking photographs one evening
and I got aware of something over my shoulder,
so turned round and there was a shape moving
It was going really fast and, all of a sudden,
it dawned on me that it was a pine marten.
So I needed to get a photograph off pretty quick.
But it wasn't until it came through a clearing
And you managed to get some? Can we have a look? Yes, yeah.
That can't have been easy, because they move pretty quick.
Any doubt in your mind they might have been a stoat or a weasel?
I'd never seen one before, but I think the sheer size,
you know, it's over two foot in length,
the shoulders are really big and the colour.
So I needed to get these off to the Wildlife Trust to verify them.
Fabulous. You must be so pleased to have got these. Yes, yes.
Verification fell to Stuart Edmunds of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
Since 2009, he's also been on the trail
Stuart, all this kit just to get a sight of a pine marten.
that we'd actually got that pine marten in Shropshire.
You knew straightaway? Yeah, straightaway.
Oh, wow. What did you do, then, as soon as you'd seen that?
So the first thing, really, was I have to get out immediately,
strike while the iron is hot and get as many cameras out as possible.
What Stuart captured was more extraordinary
of pine martens living in these woods.
It was a bit of a kind of sit down shock moment for me.
Completely something I wasn't expecting.
we've got an English population of pine martens
that we could actually hang around to study.
Now Stuart and his team aim to research the pine martens
We now just slide that into the rear of the tunnel.
Pine martens are dependent on vertical habitat,
because they're perfectly adapted to spending time up in trees.
Not too many people around and there's plenty of food around
in the form of bilberries and grey squirrels.
There you go. That's pretty well covered.
Once, pine marten fur was highly prized,
Today, all Stuart's trying to get is just one hair,
What do you think you might find out from the DNA tests?
The assumption is that most pine martens
that have been found in England and Wales
But from speaking to locals in this area,
they've actually reported seeing pine martens
And you're trying to find out whether this population
comes from them or whether it's from a long time ago.
It could have been a presumed extinct variety, yes,
that's been living under people's noses for all of these years.
So this is the only way to find out? Yes. Great.
Now, with me and the Countryfile crew traipsing around the woods
there is no chance of us seeing a pine marten.
we might have captured some footage of them.
Last month, the Countryfile team, along with the Wildlife Trust,
But with pine martens having such large territories,
could we catch a tantalising glimpse?
Yeah, this is not ideal weather for pine martens.
No, or laptops. No, absolutely not.
Right, let's have a look, then. Here we go...
Mr Badger. And a badger, of course, yeah.
That is one of the benefits, obviously.
we don't always guarantee that we'll get a pine marten,
but we are getting really good records of these other species.
So we're able to monitor things like...
Oh, it's a muntjac. A muntjac deer, yeah.
We had no idea there were even muntjac in this part of Shropshire,
But despite clip after clip of fantastic wildlife,
Oh...! I really thought it was a pine marten for a second,
because it's climbing along a branch,
which you don't really associate with foxes.
It's quite hard to tell the scale, isn't it?
I wasn't sure if that was cat size or not. It wasn't. It was a fox.
At the end of the day, a curious fox was as close as we got.
Do you know, I'm not that disappointed
because, for the first time in more than 100 years,
there's evidence of a population of them here in England.
And I've been in these very woods where they've been sighted.
So I'll just have to hold out and hope I get lucky some other day.
I've come to this farm just outside Market Drayton
to meet the third generation of a farming family,
a brother and sister who are building on their father's legacy.
But to do that, Ben and Charlotte Hollins had first of all
when they were only 19 and 21 years old.
With the help of local people, they managed to raise enough money
to turn the farm into England's first ever community-owned farm.
Now, that must've been a heck of a challenge taking over the farm
when you were so young after your father died. Yeah, it was.
But to be honest, we just did what we needed to do.
Charlotte and I grew up on the farm. We always wanted to be here.
And, you know, we just did what we felt we had to do at the time.
And everything is working well now? Yeah, it seems to be going well.
We've got plenty of cattle about now.
When Charlotte and I took over, we had 11 cows, six pigs and six sheep.
Now we've got 120 cattle, 200 sheep and 70, 80 pigs.
So the farm is thriving, all thanks to a bold decision
made by Ben and Charlotte's father Arthur Hollins,
We first heard about Arthur's ideas on Countryfile back in 1992.
I had to try and find out what it was
that made Father almost virtually bankrupt
Barley was only growing to about a foot high.
And yet, the woodland around me, which I was a lover of,
And Father had to feed his land and still wasn't getting good results.
Well it's taken a lifetime, which is some 50, 60 years.
And we found that the main cause of the problem
was the exposure of soil to sunlight.
By going against the conventional practice
of ploughing and reseeding every year,
Arthur was able to preserve and perfect his pasture.
Now, some 60 years after their dad decided to go organic,
Arthur's children are still reaping the rewards.
To Dad, you know, it wasn't necessarily understood
it was actually just going back to the way things were.
It was understanding the natural systems,
the systems that the Earth has created over millennia
and utilising that as much as possible to be able to create food.
And what's this theory of his about foggage?
Yes, so, foggage is the system that Dad created.
And it's a fantastic system which we still use here today,
which is based on a huge diversity of different grasses and herbs,
right throughout our pastures here at Fordhall.
And a rotation of the livestock across those fields
The animals here can graze 40 different varieties of grass,
which means there's no need for additional feed.
And it's those decades of growth that have led to such thick, lush pasture.
Some of those grasses are then bringing nutrients up
some of the ones like the Timothies and the fescues
have kind of got roots more across the surface,
which help protect the soil during the winter months.
Things like the plantains and the dandelion
which go right down and they help maintain the soil structure.
You can also see how sandy our soil is.
You know, and so it doesn't take very long,
if we didn't have this type of root structure,
we would be losing our soil to erosion every single winter.
When you're walking over a field like this,
it's like walking on a Persian carpet.
and, no matter how much the cattle walk on it, they don't damage it.
Arthur's Persian carpet of grass is as healthy as ever
In fact, the only tractor here is the one the children play on.
But it's Ben and Charlotte's determination and passion,
that's enabled the farm to grow and diversify.
I'll be finding out more about that later.
are the final, fading colours of autumn.
But if you'd like the colours of the countryside all year round,
The calendar costs ?9.50, including free UK delivery.
You can buy yours either on our website. That's...
To order by post, send your name, address and cheque to...
And at least ?4 of the sale of every calendar
And it does make a really nice Christmas present.
Now, earlier, we heard how insects could be used
But how would that work in practice? Here's Tom...
Animals need protein to thrive and grow.
At the moment, two thirds of that protein is imported,
mainly in the form of soya from South America.
But being so reliant on imports is a vulnerable position to be in.
The farming industry is looking for alternatives.
They're higher in protein than the current main source,
which is soya, so the potential is huge.
But it's the practicalities of feeding insects to farm animals
Some of the top brains in Europe are working on it, though.
I've made a trip across the Channel to Belgium,
where pioneering feed trials are underway.
Not the local waffles, though they are very good,
I'm visiting Nutrition Sciences, a private company near Ghent,
where the theory is being put into practice.
and it's the first time they've allowed it to be filmed.
These are the larvae from ordinary houseflies, dried maggots.
They then get milled into a powder like this,
which is mixed to make feed for chickens and pigs.
This is a first for me and a first for the farming industry in Europe.
Geert Bruggeman is in charge of the experiment.
I've brought you your bucket of powdered maggots.
The insect meal is mixed in with grain,
vitamins and minerals to top up the protein content.
These piglets have been eating it for about a week.
But it's the first time they've had an audience.
So these are the first pigs to be fed on insects, are they? Yes.
They're a bit cautious at first, but soon get stuck in.
but what is really the point of this trial?
We want to see that they grow as fast on insect meal
compared to the other protein sources.
But in addition, we are also looking for ecological effects
and the health of these insect proteins on the animal.
So it's about how well they grow and do they remain healthy.
The kind of things a farmer would want to know. Yes, isn't it?
that need this kind of protein-based feed.
Geert is also serving insect meal to chickens.
What do you think the public will think of this idea?
So you don't think they'll be turned off by the yuck factor?
You know, "I don't like the idea of insects!"
Yeah, that's the first reaction of lots of people, the yuck factor.
And one of the aims of the project is indeed creating awareness.
How confident are you personally that in, say, ten years' time,
insects will be part of the farm animal diet in Europe?
Yeah, I think insects have a promising future
as a protein source in animal nutrition.
All this is part of an ambitious project called PROteINSECT.
If we're ever going to see this on British farms,
and that's the support of the public.
PROteINSECT commissioned a European-wide consumer survey.
They wanted to find out if we know or care
And Countryfile can exclusively reveal the results of that survey.
For a start, three quarters said they would be comfortable
eating the meat of an animal that's been fed on insects.
There was also a question about food safety.
More than three quarters of people felt there was little or no risk
to human health from eating meat reared on insects.
But that left a significant proportion, around one in ten,
The job of ensuring what we eat is safe
falls to the European Food Safety Authority,
Last month, it published its official scientific opinion
on the risks associated with producing and eating insects.
Dr Adrian Charlton sits on Efsa's expert panel,
so spends plenty of time in Brussels.
He's also a member of the PROteINSECT team
and he's agreed to come and meet me in the Belgian countryside.
Is it safe to feed insects to farm animals?
At the moment, I think the opinion generally suggests
that it's as safe as any other form of livestock production.
Are there any particular concerns with insects?
There's a number of different toxins in the environment
There's a possibility that some of these toxins
and if animals are fed on insects over a long period of time,
that the toxins will then accumulate in the animals.
Now, the end of that would result in higher toxin levels
in the meat products that end up on our shelves.
So that's really something we need to guard against.
for people to eat insects, if they want to,
but it's currently illegal to put them into animal feed
under rules brought in following the BSE crisis.
The legislation really wasn't intended
to control insects within the food chain.
So people are having a serious rethink
about whether the legislation is appropriate.
I think, in the long term, yes, it will.
But I think we need to do a lot of work to understand how it changes.
But one of Europe's most cautious institutions
seems open to the idea of using insects as feed.
what about the man who'd have to sell it to the farmers?
Andrew, can you see the day when this hopper
You know, we wouldn't rule out looking at using something
that's gone through the stringent guidelines, rules and regulations
to be able to use other sources of protein.
And providing it safe and traceable and its sustainable,
Even European policy advisers have given it a guarded endorsement.
Providing more research is done, of course.
But for insect farming to truly work,
it needs to be safe, practical for the farmers
And for that, we might need to overcome the yuck factor.
Would you eat insects or animals that have been fed on insects?
or contact us through our website at...
Increasing numbers of livestock are being killed on our country roads.
It's a particular problem in Gloucestershire, where Adam lives.
And it's ingenious, as Adam's about to find out.
I'm on Minchinhampton Common in the Cotswolds.
It's one of the most beautiful commons in the country
and it's kept in shape partly by these lovely animals.
Cattle have grazed here since medieval times.
But these animals are falling victim to a very modern problem.
The common is crisscrossed by lots of minor roads
and during the night, and in foggy conditions like today,
they're difficult to be seen and that's when accidents happen.
This year, eight cattle have died on this common alone.
About 500 graze here, owned by 13 different farmers.
They help manage the common between May and November.
But at this time of year, they're taken off the common
So far, none of his cattle have been killed by traffic.
But his livestock have started migrating home,
which can be a dangerous time, as they need to cross the busy roads.
I've come to give him a hand to get them home safely.
So these animals have come off the hills
They know it's time to come in for the winter.
They've moved from the top down to the banks
They're at higher risk by the roads. There's lots of cars whizzing by.
There's a lot of traffic and, once you get into the autumn,
You know, we've got fog and mist and rain.
I saw a car whizzing past earlier and nearly hit a calf.
You know, we'd like to try and find ways
of making the cattle more visible at night.
And how important is it for the cattle to be up here?
Could you just take the animals off the common?
Without them, it would soon get overgrown
and there'd be bushes and weeds and brambles everywhere.
You know, it's a big area to maintain otherwise.
And I suppose they've been here for a long time.
Yeah, before the motorcar was invented.
Right, it's time to take this herd home,
Lovely cattle, Tim. Why do you choose to keep Herefords?
Well, my dad set up the suckler herd.
They're quiet and docile, easy to handle.
Do well off this pasture? They do well on the common. They always do.
I think it's a large area for them to graze over.
They're certainly nice and docile, the way they're moving along. Yep.
What about this black cow, then, Tim? No, that's not one of mine.
We'll drive that one back up on the common. OK. Go on, then.
This lorry's in the way. Whoa! Whoa! Wait there.
We'll just drive him round the side. Go on! On you go!
Oh, well, looks like this cow is coming with us after all.
Do you think the cows will ever learn that the roads are dangerous?
I don't think they've got much road sense, to be honest.
But by law, they've got the right of way.
So cars have to give way to them. They seem to know that.
They're just walking towards the traffic, aren't they?
Yeah, they just carry on as normal, ignoring the traffic.
We know where they are now and can sleep a bit easier.
The bull's coming out towards us. He's come to meet his ladies.
Go on, then. Just drive them in, shall we? That'll keep him busy.
All Tim's cattle are now safely down for the winter.
But next May, they'll be back out again,
risking the busy roads on the common.
He oversees the grazing animals on the common
There's a big slow sign on the road there with a big red triangle
And these cars are still racing along, aren't they?
These are all attempts. There's a rumble strip there.
There's a slow sign. There's a picture of a cow in a triangle.
And they are all attempts to try and get people aware of the fact
that this is where cattle get killed.
They've even put reflective collars on the cows.
These are things that we've been trying this year.
and they use it on the ponies down there
and, apparently, it's been quite successful.
Sadly, with cattle, most of them fell off.
I'm heading to Dartmoor, where vet Becky Lees
has been working on an ingenious solution.
Minchinhampton Common in the Cotswolds,
where they are getting cattle hit by cars.
And the problem's bad down here on Dartmoor, is it?
It's a really big problem, yes. Definitely.
And you think you've come up with a solution?
We've produced a range of branding sprays and paints
which are actually designed for sheep.
So, is this the paint? This is the paint. That's right.
As you can see, it's a fluorescent yellow in colour.
So this fluorescent yellow you're going to paint on these animals?
That's right. At the minute, our prototype is fluorescent.
We need the fluorescent pigment there to get enough of a glow.
Right, let's start painting, shall we, and see if it works? That's it.
Wow, Becky, it's pretty bright stuff, isn't it?
It is. But we've also got little reflective beads within there.
I've actually tested this fluorescent version
so I can actually tell you it is absolutely fine.
But with modern pigments, they're all non-toxic.
So, you know, we're not going to create problems that way.
And you can see it sits on the outside of the coat.
It's not going to soak down to the skin.
up in the Welsh mountains and places, don't they,
so they can recognise whose is whose. That's right.
So, you know, we've made it so that it's going to withstand
so it should be perfect for Dartmoor, as well.
Not sure if I'm ever going to get to the Tate Modern, but...
Although the pony looks a bit silly...
While I leave Becky to finish her pony,
from the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society.
You're making a good job there. Thank you.
So how much of a problem is it for you down on Dartmoor,
So far this year, we've had 72 animals killed.
But last month alone, we had 15 killed.
Goodness me! 15 in one month? Yeah, 15.
So how excited are you about this project? Very excited.
We're hoping that it may be the solution to slow cars down.
So if we can get it on ponies and possibly cows,
A lot of the ponies up on Dartmoor are quite timid and wild.
How on earth are you going to get them all painted?
Every year around September time, we have a drift time,
where all the animals are brought in off the moors,
They are sometimes wormed or they have their tails cut.
And that would be a good time to put them in a corral or through a crush
in the headlights of a car when it gets dark. Brilliant.
Well, here comes the car. The moment of truth.
Well, as the headlights have swung onto those ponies,
that would usually be totally brown.
With those fluorescent stripes on, they shine, don't they?
It's really, really reflective, isn't it?
Which is exactly what we're aiming for.
This prototype shows we're onto the right thing
and, with a bit more work, we should have a real solution.
What do you reckon? I think it's perfect.
I think it's giving off the real desired effect
and it's reflecting in their headlights, brilliant.
Hopefully, it'll stop some of the deaths on the roads.
then this could be just the thing to keep cattle safe at night.
Recognisable by its ancient towns and hilly landmarks.
The Shropshire hills are abundant with wildlife.
The berry-rich hedgerows a feast for migrating winter birds.
It's these feathered friends that have captured the imagination
of an artist whose work has very urban origins.
Matt Sewell has exhibited in London, New York, Tokyo and Paris.
He's spray painted walls across the globe.
But this street artist is a country lad at heart,
whose caricatures of birds are full of chirpy personality.
Hi, Matt, are you all right? Good, thanks, yeah.
It's not great weather for it. It's not the best.
I think they might be sheltering, to be honest with you. Yeah.
What was it that first got you into birds?
From when I was a kid. I grew up on a smallholding in County Durham
and my dad liked to just keep me in check
with knowing that I knew everything that was there.
I later found out they weren't always the right birds.
So what about the street art, then? When did that come in?
That was kind of when I got a bit older and moved to Brighton
So nature and art became what I kind of did, really.
What sort of stuff were you doing in Brighton?
And it was the fox that quickly became
kind of like my signature, in a sense.
But today, it's Matt's Spotting And Jotting Guide To British Birds
that's capturing people's imaginations.
and it's the descriptions that make it pop.
but you get a real sense of the caricatures
It all comes from just the thoughts I used to have of them
I couldn't help but just create little characters for them
by what they looked like, as well, by their movements and habits.
Matt and I have come to the Hollies Nature Reserve.
for watching flocks of migrating redwings.
Today, the birds may have taken shelter from the wind and rain,
but that's not going to put us off sketching.
You know, the best kind of light to see the lovely red armpits.
Is that how you describe it? Yeah, it is.
I just thought it looked like they'd picked up red spray paint
Shall we have a go at drawing something,
even though the shapes are a little bit blurry?
I can definitely show you how to draw a redwing, anyway. OK, great.
And the long body with the long wing.
That's a distinctive Matt Sewell within seconds. Yeah.
If I coloured that now, that would definitely be a blackbird.
you just give it this kind of, like, marking behind the eyes
Now all I need is my red pencil to go under the wing and there we go.
Identifiable within seconds. That's amazing. Incredibly quick.
What do you do on a day like today, if you come out
and you're not getting the bird that you want to sketch?
Well, I just quite like going and seeing what I can find.
If it's like this, just going for a walk,
and then taking it back to the studio.
I basically just copied yours there, look.
It looks more like a robin. It does look more like a robin!
But then, a robin is related to it. It's a thrush.
Matt didn't seem too impressed with my sketches,
but maybe I'll fare better with a can of spray paint.
that he's dedicated to Shropshire wildlife.
Matt's illustrations have led to many commissions for murals,
including this one on the edge of a housing estate
You've got all the holly and everything.
I guess what's great about this is that you're bringing wildlife
that might not be seen in the town right into this environment
and you couldn't really do this kind of work
No, there's not that many places to do it. So this is perfect, really.
There's a lot of nature around, all kinds of birds.
It's like a spotters' checklist as they go off on their walk. Exactly.
Yeah, see what you can see. I've never, ever done this.
So I'm going to need a lot of guidance. I don't want to ruin it.
You'll be all right. Gloves on. Yeah, get your gloves on.
Just this section here. Oh, you've even marked it out for me.
It's spray by numbers, isn't it? Exactly. I bet I still go wrong.
I think people are just getting more and more used to seeing street art
and public art, which is this kind of thing.
Just bright and colourful. What do they ask you, then?
I think anybody who's ever painted in the public
we had our first Countryfile ramble for Children in Need.
It was pretty tough going, but very uplifting.
Across the country, we hiked the high road...
..wandered through Windsor Great Park,
But the question is, how much has the ramble raised
Well, I'm pleased to announce our running total
But we've got lots more sponsorship money still to come in.
We'll have a final total for you in the New Year.
So well done to everyone and thank you.
So, if you've been inspired to dig out your walking boots,
you'll want to know what the weather is going to be doing.
Time to find out with the Countryfile forecast
Good evening, you will need some full weatherproof gear this week if
you are heading out at about. At the moment we have a temperature
contrast between the north Atlantic and our shores. The bigger the
contrast, the stronger the jet stream and the more low-pressure
systems, our way. It is linked to this little bubble in the South,
with cold air to the North, this storm is producing dangerous
conditions over Denmark but as it departs we are going into the colder
air overnight. Wintry showers in the departs we are going into the colder
North of England and in Scotland. Overnight, mild air tries to come
from the south-west, bringing rain, and temperatures in the south-west,
ten, 11 degrees. As the mild airs pushes -- mild air pushes north, the
temperature contrast, it will hit the cold air and produce more snow.
Maybe not as much today, but over the hills of Northern Ireland and
Scotland, maybe a covering. Outbreaks of rain in Northern
Ireland and southern Scotland, North England and the Midlands, feeling
dry out across the south-east, some brightness. This is where we see the
windiest weather, 40, 50 mph and temperatures 11-15. Some wintry
showers but temperatures in the mid-single digits at best. Clear
skies overnight, another cold night with another repeat performance of
mild air pushing back. Monday night into Tuesday morning, mild across
the South, 11, 12 degrees but where the snow is lying over Scotland with
some high. It will be the coldest night of the week because this time
the mild air has made more of a search North, but it will turn into
rain later. Rain and drizzle around the coasts. Some brightness here and
there and by the end of the day, we will all be back to temperatures
where they should be for the time of year, 8-14. South-westerly wind as
we finish Tuesday but the next low-pressure system is not far away.
Further north this time, the North West of Scotland, a cold front
pushing south and east. Lively bursts of rain, gusts of wind. On
the wraparound occlusion as we finish on Wednesday, low risk, but
the risk of some nasty winds to finish the day into Thursday night
before things turn quieter. A cold night going into Thursday in the
north of the country, mild air pushing into the South and this
time, more significant rain across the southern part of the UK. It will
hang around all day long, cold and brighter further north. It may turn
windy in the South as the low-pressure system moves away. I
pressure in the south this time, reversing the fortunes for the end
of the week. The driest and brightest weather in the south and
then, wet and windy pushing into the North. It is going to be a week
where they will be some brightness around, as our Weather Watch
pictures today have shown but there will be some strong winds at times,
touching gale force out some of the hills and costs. Further rain, and
where the ground is saturated, keep your ion flood warnings but there is
some Today we're in the border county
of Shropshire. Whilst Ellie's been getting creative
with a spray can, I've been here on Fordhall Farm
with Charlotte and Ben Hollins. Thanks to the legacy
of their dad Arthur, they've been able to grow
a successful farming business never ploughing
or reseeding his pasture, so protecting the soil,
he believed, from too much sunlight. And it's the light
that kills the worm, that kills the bacteria
in the worm castings, That's what I'm trying to say
all the time, you see? Well, you're both
chips off the old block, obviously, But tell me,
what was he like as a man? He was passionate about his farming
and Fordhall Farm and organics. If you ever couldn't find Dad,
he'd be down the field, draining a ditch
or checking the cattle. And he was a farmer through
and through. A little bit eccentric. But, you know, he just loved nature.
That was his passion. And if you were walking with Dad
in the field, you wouldn't get very far before
he was down on his knees showing you all the life
that lived in the soil. And, of course, as young kids,
we were just like, "Yes, all right, Dad.
Let's move on." And now, you know,
we appreciate it ourselves, as well. your father had lots of
pioneering ideas, didn't he? Dad diversified the farm in many
ways from the 1950s and '60s. Not only the yoghurt making,
but also they had a country club, he did lots of school visits
and volunteering. But, yes, in the 1990s,
we were faced with eviction notices and 15 years of legal battles
then ensued. And money was going into legal fees
and court battles, it wasn't being reinvested
in the farm. And then you came up
with this, then novel, idea We had a real core group
of local people that backed us. Then there were people who were
sceptical to start with. Then, once people started
to understand it, So how much did you have to raise and
how long did it take you to do it? Yeah, we had first refusal to buy
the farm for ?800,000. So we basically, we had just over
a year to raise the money and we've raised most of it
in about the last six months. Well, I imagine that one reason
that you've both got such support was that people admired
your youthful determination. We had everything to win
and nothing to lose. So we just did what we needed to do
and it paid off. Your dad would have been proud
of you, I think. I hope so. and offering local people
the chance to buy shares in the farm, Sadly, Arthur died
before the farm was saved. But now, in what would have been
his 100th year, the farm is thriving. Dilapidated farm buildings
have been rejuvenated, housing a bakery, a butchery,
a farm shop and cafe, all supplying the farm's varied
produce straight to the customer. And can I have one of the whole
chickens, please? Certainly. The community trust
has now gone global, with 8,000 shareholders
around the world. But it's the locals shopping here
that have made this place flourish. Joena, you were one of the very first
customers here, weren't you? I was, yes. I remember the days
when the shop was in a lean-to and you could only pay by cash and
the meat was all just in a freezer. So what keeps you coming back here,
then? I just love everything
that they do here. I love the ethos of Fordhall
Community Land Initiative. The way that they involve
the community And there's always something
for everybody. Ben and Charlotte are keen to share
their knowledge and experience. Across their 140 acres,
they host a wide range of events For example, visitors can get their
hands dirty in the community garden. Or there's care farming sessions
for the elderly. involves volunteers
and local students. They are helping to build a roof
on what's going to be a wonderful roundhouse
here in the woods, which will provide shelter
for children when they're on school trips
to the farm. will top walls filled with
various recycled materials, as well as shelter youngsters
on farm visits. But this isn't the only project these
young people are helping with today. we're adding some new life
to Arthur's all-important soil. Well, these saplings are part of
the Woodland Trust's planting scheme that we heard about right
at the start of the programme. that were sorted and processed by
Robert and his team, who we met then. And now they're going to be planted
right here. Oh, great.
More supplies, lads. Excellent. Doing some tree planting
along this ditch. We've got some saplings here
from the Woodland Trust. And we're going to be planting
all the way along this ditch So that will help shore up
the stream, really. Yeah, yeah. The idea is help stop erosion
into the ditch. with berries and things
for the birds. And there's another reason,
isn't there, Ben? That's right. to celebrate Dad's centenary
on the farm, as well. Oh, great. We've brought some manpower for you,
John. Another volunteer. Yeah, ready to help out.
Just a little bit too late, Ellie. And that's it from Shropshire
in this beautiful evening light. Yes. Next week, Joe Crowley and I
will be exploring a brand-new scenic route
in the far north of Scotland.
Countryfile is in Shropshire, where John Craven visits a seed bank working with the Woodland Trust to help save our endangered native trees. He also explores the farm of the brother and sister building on their father's legacy as a pioneering organic farmer. Ellie Harrison meets urban artist and ornithologist Matt Sewell to discover how to draw birds with chirpy characters. She is also on the hunt for the elusive Shropshire pine marten, thought to be extinct in England. And Adam Henson finds out how painting cattle to make them more visible at night could cut down animal deaths on the road.
Providing enough food for billions of growing farm animals is no easy task - so could insects be the answer? Tom Heap gets an exclusive look at European trials where they are feeding pigs and chickens with maggots.