Hilary is a retired nurse and farmer’s wife. Her family currently farm a hill farm in the Lune Gorge near Tebay and an arable farm in the Eden valley. They are commoners on Roundthwaite fell and provide 400 acres of Access land, designated under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act [CROW] Act on the west side of the valley and in Borrowdale.
Hilary is interested in conservation especially of domestic cultivars and breeds. Apart from the Rough Fell sheep the family keeps the extremely rare Teeswater sheep and breed the old fashioned Masham cross lamb. She keeps Welsummer hens but is chiefly known for her orchard conservation work and as an authority on old apple varieties from the region. She is currently the chairman of the South Lakeland Orchard Group.
She wrote in 2001 [email]:
I cannot claim to be an original thinker about local production as I was influenced by Gandhi who saw it as protecting the exploited populations of the third world. He believed that each country should be self sufficient in its basic foodstuffs and cash crops should only come after. I should like to see all countries being self sufficient in their own basic foods and fibres. It seems to me responsible living.
I have studied permaculture and also am involved with mainstream commercial farming and can see the situation from both points of view. I have come to the conclusion that our problem world-wide is that everything is seen in terms of money these days and the factor left out is community stability and relationships, (known by the Amish people of America as ‘Galassenheit’).
and later on subsidies:
I have come to believe that instead of giving ‘aid ‘ to the countries like Honduras we should be giving subsidies to their farmers! Given the fact that food is produced in a market situation and has to be sold when ready the small farmer is always hostage to the buyer so state support is always necessary.
The lesson from the subsidies given in Britain is not that they are bad but they are very effective. The state pays for part of the production and the buyer pays the rest at the point of sale ensuring that everyone can afford the basics and can feed their family. Nature’s boom and bust production scenario is evened out. The rural population remains on the land instead of drifting into shantytowns and urban deprivation. The drudgery of a peasant’s life is removed and his dignity increased. Food production is increased and each country is more able to feed its citizens. I do not believe that simply removing all subsidies is the answer. I think they should be extended.