Farming Community

 

The changing scene of the countryside around Clifton-upon-Teme since the 2nd World War has been largely influenced by successive government policies. During the war, the 'Dig for Victory' campaign saw many of the old pastures ploughed up to grow crops such as cereals, potatoes, sugar beet and mangolds for animal feed. After the war mechanisation became the buzz-word in the 1950s, with most farms having at least one tractor and trailed implements. Some had a 'little grey Fergi' that could lift, pull and operate a variety of implements including a pick-up baler, modern plough and haymaking and harvesting equipment. The first combine harvesters and hop-picking machines also arrived in the locality.


JCB digger The 1960s brought JCB diggers which greatly aided drainage schemes, hedge and orchard removal. The resulting beef, butter and grain mountains in the 1980s were evidence of the success of such measures. As a result, quotas and other control schemes were brought in. Farming around Clifton had changed enormously in only a few decades.

 

Cows By 1999, farming was in the doldrums - largely as a result of draconian measures introduced in the 1990s in response to BSE. Sheep and cattle farming, once profitable enterprises, suffered. The price of breeding ewes fluctuated from over £100 to around £40. Cereal cultivation was encouraged; 'diversification' and 'set-aside' were added to the farming vocabulary, barns were converted into dwellings at the Thrift Farm, Hill Farm and Steps Farm. Sugar beet and potatoes, widely cultivated in years past, were rarely grown.

The orchards that were a familiar sight around Clifton for much of the past century (a 'blossom trail' would draw visitors to the Teme valley in the spring) have all but disappeared. Only Pitlands still have plums and apples, although a few cider orchards have recently been planted in the area. The last of the hop yards in the area was grubbed up at Homme Castle and the barns converted into business units. Several small farms amalgamated with their neighbours, others were split up and sold off and many local farmhouses sold off for private occupation Farming Community.