Julia walks the ‘Doomway’
Julia Bradbury braves the Essex tides when she explores one of the UK’s most treacherous public footpaths, the Broomway. Located on the flat, wild expanse of Maplin Sands, this ancient walkway was originally used by farmers to access Foulness Island. It’s subject to fast flowing tides and those who stray off the path are in danger of sinking into the softer mudflats, hence its nickname – the “Doomway”. What’s more, on weekdays the walk is used by the MOD during firing practice.
Julia takes the safe option for the final bit of her journey when she hitches a lift with the RNLI who rescue walkers in trouble.
The science behind sheep
Matt Baker celebrates old and new agricultural techniques as he visits Writtle College, now in its 120th year. He meets the scientists who are trying to improve sheep production by using essential oils to lower saturated fat in the meat and reduce the methane the animals produce when ruminating. Matt gets first-hand experience of this gassy process when he helps perform an experiment on a sheep’s stomach.
For more than half a century British farmers have received subsidies from the EU. Today they share more than £3.4 billion pounds every year. The Common Agricultural Policy was originally set up to boost food production. In recent years CAP payments have changed. Alongside subsidies for production, farmers now get money for so-called “greening measures” – designed to sustain and conserve our natural environment. Now government ministers have agreed a new deal which runs until 2020.
But what will this mean for British farmers? Tom Heap meets small and large scale producers in Cambridgeshire, plus an economist who wants farming subsidies to be scrapped completely.
Food for thought
Matt meets the pupils at Birch Primary School where a gardening club has transformed the way they think about food. They grow produce of all kinds in all kinds of places – even wellies! He meets the youngsters who are now making use of their very own polytunnel thanks to student Emily Lawrence. She won money for the school in a ‘lunchbox plot’ competition run by allotment charity Edible Essex. Emily and Matt make the lunch she designed from her winning garden plot.
Farming under fire on Foulness
Julia ventures out to Foulness Island to meet two brothers whose family have farmed the island since the 1940s as tenants of the MOD. The farmland on Foulness is used for bomb testing and disposal so John and Peter Burroughs have to fashion their weekly farming schedule around the MOD activity. Shrapnel from these exercises can play havoc with their farming equipment as Julia discovers.
Judging rare breeds
It’s the 40th anniversary of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. To celebrate Adam Henson visits the Royal Norfolk show where more than 40 different rare breeds are on display. One breed Adam’s always keen to promote is the Norfolk Horn. Adam’s dad helped rescue this bred of sheep from the brink of extinction in the 70s when there were only a handful left. Adam meets up with teenager Hamish Beaton who’s doing his bit to support the breed. He then steps into the show-ring to judge rare breed cattle. But with so many wonderful animals vying for his attention, Adam’s faced with a tough decision.
Julia visits Europe’s biggest wetland restoration site
Julia heads to Wallasea Island where the RSPB is recreating the mudflat and salt marsh habitat that existed before the land was reclaimed from the sea for use in farming. She meets project manager Siobhan Wall who’s crafting the new wetlands with earth freshly excavated from Crossrail’s tunnelling project in London.
- Julia Bradbury
- Tom Heap
- Matt Baker
- Adam Henson
- Series Producer
- Teresa Bogan