A Cool Head – Wheelbarrow Farm (Gloucestershire)

 When a food production system is as broke as the one of the western world is, it is no good tinkering around the edges. The current system is destroying the very earth on which we depend and yet, in its drive to cheaper and cheaper food, is producing more and more imbalance between the ‘haves’ and have nots’. A radical new approach – or approaches – is required – a case of learning from the past and moving on with new farming and growing systems which are actively regenerative of the land and soil, the environment, community and communities, and ultimately our individual souls.

My name is Walter Lewis. I am a documentary photographer and researcher and in 2015 I travelled around England and Wales seeking out people who have a made choice to produce food in an ethical and sustainable way. In such cases, food production is more often than not locally focused, often community based, organic or biodynamic in method, small in scale, highly rotational and biodiverse, low in energy use, low in intervention and high in animal welfare. It is everything that factory farming is not, and produces food of quality and seasonality within, or close to, consuming communities.

In choosing to grow in this way the practitioners are not opting for an easy way out. The life is demanding, and motivation is often linked to environmental activism – the protest is by growing food through a new agroecology. In making such a choice, these alternative farmers and growers provide the rest of us with a choice as to where we source our daily food. Is it to be ethically sourced or are we to support the fault-bestrewn status quo as found in every supermarket. It is a choice which challenges the fundamentals of our attitude towards our earth.

Feeding Body and Soul is where I will recount the journey I made around many who are choosing to grow and source their food in more sustainable and ethical ways. The main element of the site is ‘The Posts’ timeline where you will find an overview and thoughts arising for each visit and some pictures that I made there. I started with every intent to make each post a year to the day from when I made the visits in 2015. Sadly a few things have intervened – see for example here – and the emphasis is now just on working through the visits and doing justice to each one.

You can browse through the whole timeline, or pull out posts by location or by publication date using the collations lists to the right of the screen. If you can’t find anything of interest, try the search facility. Double clicking on an image in the tiled mosaic of a post will open up a slideshow through which all the images can be viewed at leisure. Try Full Screen – means pressing F11 on my machine to set the image area of my browser to full screen. To escape press F11 again.

Early morning picking at Chagford Community Market Garden (Chagfood)

If you like what you see do please share on social media sites (see the buttons below). The more we have engaging with an alternative food supply, the more the well being of both ourselves and our earth will be improved. Everyone can do their bit in making this a better planet by choosing to eat respectfully and sustainably. Forget the politicians and government – they are lost souls, driven only by their own ego. Change can only come from all of us individually choosing to live better lives. The stories on this blog are the stories of people who have made that choice in a big way.

Whilst this blog provides a platform for showing numerous images of each visit, I have also published a book on my travels and experiences.  Whilst inevitably more selective in the places covered and the images used than on the blog, I hope the book presents the strong composite picture of the alternative food production movement across England and Wales. Details of the book – entitled Unlikely Heroes – can be found here.

The book will be launched at the first of what I hope will be a series of exhibitions which will go through and across 2017. Everything i snow all set up for an exhibition also entitled Unlikely Heroes at the Photographer’s Gallery in Dean Clough Mills galleries in Halifax. Briefly the exhibition will run from 11th February through to 23rd April, with the official private view opening being 12 noon to 2:00 pm on the 11th Feb. Everyone welcome. Details on the exhibition and Dean Clough in general can be found here.

More exhibitions will follow, the aim being for each exhibition to use a core of pictures that feature in the book but to give each exhibition a distinct local flavour by adding images of farmers and growers in the locality which have not made the book. I am planning that these exhibitions are held in conjunction with food activists from the locality. I would hope that together we can create an ‘event’ around the exhibition which will benefit all parties in bringing people to it and opening up discussion of food production practices. If you are part of a group or organisation promoting food sovereignty and the idea appeals, please contact me so we can discuss further.

‘News and Views’ provides a platform for an eclectic collection of bits and bobs, very much filling in the gaps between the posts themselves!

PS If you do like what you see, don’t forget to also click either or both of the Follow buttons found around the site to keep up to date (email and/or Facebook) as the project as it develops, or sign up on the Contact page to a monthly newsletter.