Posted 20 hours ago

The Running Hare: The Secret Life of Farmland

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The possibility and potential for wildlife is huge if lot more farmers were prepared to give it a go. In a way, this book reads like a love letter to the English countryside, and one field in particular.

Problems queue up for recognition, of course, but Lewis-Stempel ploughs on (sorry), sowing, among other things, to encourage the eponymous hare. First edition to the field is a bird table, and he spends ages observing all the species that realise that there is a new source of food available. By using the Web site, you confirm that you have read, understood, and agreed to be bound by the Terms and Conditions.

Also a wariness of concentrating our attention too heavily on "charismatic species" - although it has to be said the hares Lewis-Stempel loves so much are certainly charismatic. I did also learn quite a lot from this book; he includes a lot of agricultural history, pastoral poetry, snippets of folk songs, myths and rural legends, as well as offering startling figures about the declining wildlife in the UK. Along the way we learn a little about seemingly everything rural - agricultural history, scientific studies of bird and wildlife decline, botany, modern agriculture, Lepidoptera, Shakespeare, agrarian poetry, and the history of English hedges, just to name a few.

His most recent book, Meadowland, was nominated for Countryfile's Book of the Year 2014 and won the Thwaites Wainwright Prize 2015. He thinks George Monbiot’s “ rewilding” mission is an idea that should “get into the fucking sea with the red herrings”; it is “at best, fiddling at the edges of Britain’s environmental problems”. Not all of them are pests; we might just need the bees you know… More than that, this is a very fine book; the writing is top notch and he is incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about his subject.

Whether you’re stopping off on a long journey on the North Wales Expressway (A55), or a Deeside local, The Running Hare is the ideal place for a family meal. His desire was to to see just what could be done in a small area of land (15 acres), and just how much bio-diversity could be regained in the space of his short tenancy of two years.

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