Barefoot Farmer - Red Boiling Springs, TN

From Live Green Tennessee – Season 7, Episode 12

Jeff Poppen, also known as the Barefoot Farmer, is the owner and operator of one of the oldest and largest organic farms in Tennessee. Besides farming one of the oldest and largest biodynamic farms in the state, the Barefoot Farmer writes books and articles, consults, appears on Nashville PBS’ television program Volunteer Gardener, and organizes conferences on farming and local food. WCTE’s Daniel Duarte was able to catch up with the ever-busy Barefoot Farmer.
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Sheep on the uplands of Britain have been at the centre of a media debate over the last few years. Does hill farming have a place in the management of moorland or as George Monbiot argues, is it the scourge of the countryside? Are sheep to blame for the UK’s high greenhouse gas emissions? Are they causing downriver flooding? Or, alternatively, are they a vital source of sustainable local meat, crucial to the management of upland landscapes and essential to the survival of upland communities and culture?

What is it really like to farm sheep in a far-flung corner of the English moors? This film is about Matthew Trevelyan, a young upland farmer on the North York Moors. Matthew Trevelyan took over the running of Hill Top Farm, near Spaunton, from his father several years ago and now shepherds the flock of 150 hefted Swaledale sheep. The farm has been certified organic since 1985 and the Trevelyan family set up the Shearling Scheme to market their hogget (young mutton) to the local community. Keeping sheep on this part of the moors has been a tradition for many hundreds of years, and the sheep know their particular area of moorland well, passing on this knowledge to their lambs through the generations. Sheep on the moors have no fences or boundaries and can eat freely from the diverse range of moorland vegetation. Their healthy lifestyle means they avoid many of the health problems that other livestock suffer from, such as maggots and feet problems. This type of sheep farming is a sustainable form of meat production that results in a high quality product derived from land that is unsuitable for arable or other crops.

In this film, Matthew gives a fresh perspective on the challenges of upland farming and discusses it with honesty and openness. He comments on the devaluation of wool, once a key income stream of sheep farming, and the attitude towards Swaledale ‘shearling’ (hogget) consumption, as well as the fluctuations in the sheep market. Upland farming is a profession in decline, and as a newcomer, Matthew understands the reasons why young people are not taking up this kind of farming. The small profits, cold climate, hard physical work and social isolation are not easy things to negotiate as a farmer. Far from being a traditionalist, Matthew shares his ideas of what the moors could look like if traditions were to change and expresses his hopes for creating a thriving rural community.

This story of Hill Top Farm gives a snapshot of one farmer’s experience, but his concerns, challenges and hopes are reflected in the wider upland farming community.

Farmer: Matthew Trevelyan
Location: Spaunton, North Yorkshire, UK
Farm type: Hill farm
Heft area of moorland: 150h
Stocking density: 75 – 150 sheep
Arable area: 36.42ha

Meat from the moors: Is there a future for upland sheep farming?

Barefoot Farmer – Red Boiling Springs, TN

| Vertical farming | 17 Comments
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  • Co Kane

    answer me this? I find it extremely pussy that y'all choose young women to throw in the fire …. I WITNESSED IT WITH MY OWN TWO!

  • The Federal Reserve

    This guy is saying exactly what I feel. I live in San Diego and have this crazy desire to grow food. I was raised by a gardener and don’t have much room to grow where I live now. I’m packing it up and moving to Tennessee early next year to start a small organic style permaculture farm. I can’t wait. It’s all I think about.

  • Jeff

    Love it when I can find a farming or gardening youtube with someone who actually knows the practical, inherent value of soil & growing science…and that individual makes sense to me from beginning to end…found myself repeatedly saying "Yes !" throughout…thank you 🙂

  • Andy Roe

    I've just found your channel and instantly fell in love! I've always wanted to live this way! Can I move there and work for you please??! Will work for organic food {:^) Much love !!

  • Charles Carlson

    Looks like you kept the farm after all.  Hope the chicken farm does not harm your farm. Some day I would like to come see your place.

  • LISA Manis

    I am so glad to see you have continued since the nasty chicken farm incident. Did you by another farm nearby ? I'm not far from RBS myself, beautiful area !

  • Hamid Ahlouch

    Hi I am Hamid
    I used to live in a village in the high Atlas Mountains . Just me and my old grand mother and our folk of sheep and goats about 60 to 80 heads in a 19 th century huge house .
    I watched your video now a lot of memories came back.
    Thanks so much

  • peter woods

    Take it from me Yorkshire lamb is delicious. Here in Germany I cannot get it. Here mass pig breeding leads to endless problems with huge volumes of effluent contaminating the water table. Supertankers bring in peanut feed from South America. The end product tastes of nothing, totally tasteless, watery meat.

  • burnticeblues

    upland farming destroys at taxpayers expense, if you want to bleach the earth with animals never adapted to the environment, who eat and eat and leave nothing left as natural species have no defense then go ahead, but don't expect any subsidies or love for it

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