Shame on the National Trust for breaking up a hill farm in the Lake District
The Federation along with the commoners in Borrowdale, in Cumbria, members of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association, hill farmer tenants of the National Trust, James Rebanks, Lord Melvyn Bragg and many more who have commented about this, and we suspect countless members of the National Trust....is dismayed and worried by the National Trust's purchase of the land and sheep of Thorneythwaite farm, Borrowdale, but not its farmhouse or outbuildings. The valley has lost another working farm and a future opportunity for a young farmer to begin their farming career.
How come an organization that purports to be guardians of the landscape and cultural heritage makes a purchase that threatens the integrity of commoning - an agricultural tradition going back thousands of years?
Please can someone from the National Trust explain how this fits with their slogan "looking after special places, for ever, for everyone"? Splitting up a working farm undermines the traditional commoning practices that created this "special place" in the first place. The landscape was not at risk, it is loved by millions of people. The farm was not at risk. It was likely that it could have been bought by a local farming family who have the local knowledge and skills to farm the land sustainably and produce superb, high quality lamb and breeding sheep. What arrogance of the National Trust to think they had to save the land and the sheep, come what may. They have put their agenda ahead of the local community and dare I say it, the wishes of many of their members.
Now that the National Trust has added another 316 acres to its already considerable land portfolio in the Lake District we are keen for some honesty from the Trust. We hear that they have plans to continue to farm the land and the flock of hefted sheep will be saved. But asking for tenders to look after the sheep on a 1-year contract does neither. Sheep farming works to much longer timescales than this.
Actions speak louder than words. Come on National Trust you are going to have to do lot better than this if you are interested in rebuilding trust and respect in the local farming community. Sadly, you haven't yet demonstrated that you are.