Winter wheat and the wonderful whirl of years and seasons

winter 2013 016It always gives me such joy to see the winter wheat come through.

Even though the worst of the weather may still be to come and those little shoots of green get burned by frost, buried under snow and grazed by huge flocks of wild geese stopping off for snacks on their long journeys, this battered crop will survive, green up again and become the majesty of cornfields we recognise in summer.

And it all started when the great machines ploughed and tilled down the soil through autumn, drilled the seeds and a little bit of mildness before Christmas brought up the shoots and made the earth green again ready for the new year’s crop.

What a wonderful cycle it is. How hopeful are these inevitable cycles that keep on coming round and bring us back to Spring and Summer. And how lucky are we to have this land and this climate to grow our food and the people prepared to work at it.

For most of them it’s not like the lovely ‘Adam’s Farm’ which we see on the Countryfile programme. Most of the people who work the land here are much smaller concerns, have a much harder time and get much less pay for their labours as they produce our food. Some don’t even make the breadline. Farming is not this romantic existence we see portrayed for the cameras for people in towns and cities. For most it is intense hardship and struggle to make the food we seem to think it is our right to buy cheaply from supermarkets. Those supermarkets who in turn pay farmers less than the amount it takes to put bread on their own tables. They rarely film those bits!

It’s a lesson for our kids. That they understand the food they eat doesn’t come from supermarkets, it comes from the land. And it is dependent on climate. Without a decent climate there’ll be no food. Which is why it’s important that they (well – everyone really) are careful with their waste and careful with their possessions because, if you think about it, the more possessions we have the more damage we do through industry to the climate, the earth and the sea that feeds us!

So next time you wander round the supermarket with your children just be aware that it is this beautiful earth that provides all the choice you have before you. And as your kids tuck into their bread, pasta or pizza some of it may even contain the little shoots of green corn I saw battling up from the earth this time last year.

And here’s this year’s new crop already on its way. What a reassuring and hopeful sight at the start of this new January.

Happy New Year!

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