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Forty Farms - Conversations about change in the landscapes of Cumbria

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Low Sizergh Farm (‘Low Sizergh Barn Farm Shop & Café’), Sizergh near Kendal – Dairy, horticulture, hospitality, poultry, tourism The accompanying conversations with farmers – often frank, sometimes funny, and occasionally painful – reflect the critical issues facing farming today. I attended evening classes at Kendal Brewery Arts Centre completing the intermediate Digital Photography course and progressed through to the advanced course. I was hooked, read magazines and watched YouTube tutorials to constantly build on the skills I learned and put them into practice. There's always something new to learn in photography, different techniques or skills to hone, and although I've still got a lot to learn, I'm enjoying the process. Having the time and space to be creative is one of the most joyful aspects of photography. Over the course of 12 months Amy spoke with the farmers about the financial challenge of farming; about the tightrope balance of producing quality food in a nature-rich landscape; and about the highs and lows of working in a landscape known, and loved, internationally. The Forty Farms book features contributions from author James Rebanks and L’Enclume’s Simon Rogan and veteran damson grower Harley Trotter. The book evolved into the Forty Farms exhibition. Our family farm, some of our wonderful producers, and our farming friends, feature in a brand new exhibition offering a unique insight into the everyday lives, fears and hopes of 40 extraordinary farmers throughout Cumbria.

The photographs captured by Bateman tell the compelling stories of 40 farmers as they go about their day-to-day lives in one of the UK ’ s best loved mountain landscapes, the Lake District. Along the way, Bateman reveals compelling human-interest stories during what was – and is – a period of profound change for British farming. Over the course of a year, Amy conducted frank conversations about the financial challenge of farming in a fast-changing world; about the tightrope balance of producing quality food for the nation in sensitive heritage landscapes; and about the challenges and opportunities of working in an area that is internationally famed for its beauty. Helen has appeared on Sky News, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Merseyside, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC World Service, talkRadio, and GB News. An experienced chairperson and speaker, she regularly chairs conferences and events for, among others, literature festivals, award ceremonies, and tech shows. She was also a Guest Lecturer at Westminster University in the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication, and a Guest Lecturer at City University and at MMU. She taught Music Journalism at Salford University for a number of years, and taught Political Reporting at Huddersfield University. In 2017, she was shortlisted for Person with Purpose at the Northern Power Women Awards. In 2019, she was a judge for the HWA Gold Crown Awards which recognise the best historical novels. MISS POTTER is an enchanting love story inspired by the life of Beatrix Potter - the most successful children’s author of all time. Set in London and the Lake District in 1902, the film stars Academy Award winner Renée Zellweger as Beatrix Potter, and charts the... Image credit: Amy Bateman - Forty Farms) If you could only use one camera and lens forever, what would it be?The first 100 books sold will include a free signed image kindly printed by photography printing specialists Fotospeed . A polarizer: Kase magnetic filters and polarisers are absolute game changers. They make it so fast to pop them on and take them off. I can't be faffing, screwing things in, putting extension holders and filter holders on my camera. But with Kase magnetic filters and polarisers, you just slap them on – job done. I’m very impressed with these, so they’re definitely in my essential kit.

We've got 900 acres – that's a lot of land to be able to capture the landscape, farm life, farm animals, nature and food production. I get to capture the behind the scenes of farm life that people rarely experience. I know our farm inside and out, where to find the March hares when they're boxing, beautiful examples of regeneration in Juniper on our fell and time it just right to capture them in the best light. The book reveals frank conversations about the financial challenges experienced by upland farmers; the tightrope balance of producing quality food in nature-rich protected landscapes; and the highs and lows of working in an area internationally famed for its beauty.It highlights independence, innovation and resilience in a post-Brexit world of declining farm subsidies, as we seek to focus on producing food closer to home, whilst balancing the drive towards net-zero, and restoring biodiversity. The farmer and photographer behind the Forty Farms book and exhibition took a little time recently to talk to B4RN.

Forty Farms is the concept of my publisher and editor, who’s called Dave Felton, and he has a Cumbrian publishing house called Inspired by Lakeland. He approached me in November 2020 and said, ‘I’ve got an idea for a book and you’re my first choice. A photography book on farming’. You get a very well massaged ego when somebody approaches you like that. And so I said, ‘Ohhhh gosh, yes! That sounds good!’ I think also, there's something about photography of farmland that is quite unique. You kind of have to open your eyes a little bit more. I mean, landscape photographers do use the same leading lines of walls and fences, or gateways and openings that open a door or lead the viewer into your image. But then if you've got animals in your image, it changes the focus of the subject. A lot of people generally overlook the animals and consider them just part of the bigger composition. I generally tend to make the animals more part of the image and I like to add an element of storytelling to my images. The animals are essential because I'm photographing farm life, not only a part of it. Could you tell us more about the "Forty Farms" project?The idea for Forty Farms was devised by publisher and Lake District enthusiast, David Felton of Inspired by Lakeland. He approached me about creating the book together. Photographer Amy Bateman said: “I have tried to reflect the widest possible range of farmers engaged with the widest variety of animals, crops, landscapes, and diversifications.

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