The Farming Social Hub - a voice for the farming community

Rooted: Stories of a Farming Revolution

Sarah Langford is a barrister turned farmer turned author. Her most recent book is a both a memoir and a piece of empirical research into farming across the UK. Focusing on regenerative farming, Langford talks of her own experiences turning a small farm in Suffolk from an intensively farmed parcel into an organic farm. She has also travelled the length and breadth of the UK talking to farmers of all persuasions as she digs into farming now, farming yesterday and how the further back in time we look, the more information we can use in our farming practices of the future.

Langford’s book was reviewed alongside Regenesis by George Montbiot in the Guardian. The reviewer, Amy Liptrot, says: ‘Those days come to mind reading two books that challenge us to think again about farming – what it has come to mean and how it could be transformed. Sarah Langford’s Rooted, with its case studies of agriculture over the last few decades, makes me thankful I grew up on the type of mixed family farm far less common than it once was. George Monbiot’s Regenesis takes as its subject no less than the entire world’s food production system and dares to imagine a world largely free of farming as we have known it.

‘My grandfather Peter,” Langford writes, “was a hero who fed a starving nation. Now his son Charlie, my uncle, is considered a villain, blamed for ecological catastrophe and with a legacy no one wants.” From Langford’s immediate family we move around England, meeting dairy farmers crushed by the low price supermarkets pay for milk, disillusioned pig farmers turning to mixed agriculture and small scale organic farmers. The stories are often frustrating and heartbreaking: tales of falling incomes, BSE, foot and mouth, and Covid. Langford is brilliant at explaining how complex economic forces impact on individuals. The book is absorbing, compassionate and should have a galvanising effect.’

As farming and environmental books fill the shelves of bookshops, Rooted’s message is clear: farming, food production and land management should be front and central of everyone’s minds, not simply the tiny percentage of the population that works in agriculture. ‘Agriculture touches us all,’ says Langford in the Farming Social Hub podcast, broadcast on Sunday 17 July.

You can meet Sarah Langford at a book signing and Q&A on 27 July at Old Hall Farm, Norwich. Visit the Old Hall Farm Facebook page for details.