A personal exploration of land ownership and colonial legacy, told by a Scottish farmer’s son as he returns home to his family farm, is being brought to life as a podcast.
Launching on 29 June, Landed by Farmerama Radio is produced by Katie Revell and Col Gordon, a 34-year-old baker and seed researcher who grew up on a 270 acre livestock farm in the Highlands – an area known to have the highest concentration of land ownership in Western Europe.
In the series, Gordon starts to question long-held assumptions that challenge his idea of the small family farm and the viability of its future. Over four episodes, he explores not only the current challenges of farm succession and access to land in the UK, but also of lost history, colonial legacy and traditional Gaelic relationships with the land, going as far back as the Highland Clearances and the slave trade.
Gordon unpicks Scotland’s role as both coloniser and colonised, and increasingly struggles to reconcile the image of the small family farm as the hero of regenerative farming and local food movements with his new understanding of its deep roots still entangled in imperial ideals.
Throughout the series, Gordon speaks to farmers, family members and activists, historians, academics, and eco-psychotherapists.
He starts to ask who the land should serve and how it can be made to do so. He seeks to discover how we can repair some of the damage caused by past and present exploitation, and create a future where landscapes are managed collectively for the benefit of everyone.
It is both a personal and timely conversation. Huge numbers of farms are set to change hands in the next decade, as the average age of farmers edges over 59 and the implications of Brexit and the climate emergency start to be felt. The question of what happens to farmland is increasingly urgent.
In the concluding episode, Gordon optimistically explores alternative models for land management that already exist, such as crofting and community ownership. He explores opportunities to rethink the way land is owned and managed at scale while acknowledging both the past and the very real challenges facing farming today.
This series isn’t about dismissing the small family farm, but rather, bringing it to life within its full ecological, cultural and historical contexts. It challenges us to learn from these to make our landscapes more sustainable and accessible for all.
From personal stories of the small family farm and its alternatives, to land ownership and reform, to racial, land and food justice, Landed sheds light on important issues which will affect us all as we head into the greatest change in our agricultural sector in some 70 years.
Episodes will be released from Sunday 29 June and for more details visit www.farmerama.co