In our new series we profile the best podcasts we have come across each week (see previous here).
This week – from the award-winning podcasters behind CEREAL and Who Feeds Us? comes Landed – a personal exploration of land ownership and colonial legacy, told by a farmer’s son as he returns home to his family farm. Farmerama Radio is an award-winning podcast sharing the voices behind regenerative farming. They are committed to positive ecological futures for the earth and its people, and believe that farmers of the world will determine this. 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.
Contributors to this series include:
Col Gordon, Srik Narayanan – psychotherapist with a specialism in ecopsychology; Dr Iain MacKinnon – Assistant Professor, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University. Co-author, “Plantation Slavery and Landownership in the west Highlands and Islands: Legacies and Lessons”; Raghnaid Sandilands – writer, Gaelic translator, cartographer and publisher; Dr Sam Harrison – Manager and Project Director, The Shieling Project; Dr David Alston – historian, writer. “One of the first Scottish historians to draw attention to the prominent role of Scots in the slave trade and the plantation economies of the Caribbean”; Josina Calliste – co-founder of Land in Our Names (LION), a Black-led grassroots collective working for land reparations in Britain; David (Dagger) Gordon – farmer and musician; Col’s dad. Provided the music for the series; Dr Adam Calo – researcher in the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences research group, James Hutton Institute; Helen O’Keefe – crofter, Scottish Crofting Federation Young Crofter of the Year 2020 and Patrick Krause – Chief Executive, Scottish Crofting Federation.
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.
“What if we’ve been getting this wrong?”
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.