A YEAR long project which culminated in a multi-media exhibition showing the importance of hill farming will give rural communities a voice over supper.

Hefted to Hill by Ewan Allinson and Northern Heartlands portrayed what life is like for hill farmers today and recorded a traditional way of farming that could be dying out.

It showed how important hill farming has been to the uplands economy, especially in Teesdale and Weardale, and let farmers express their views on agricultural policy.

Now the Northern Heartlands scheme will host a free supper for those who want to engage in a discussion.

The Northern Echo:

There will be an update on the project from Mr Allinson as well as a talk by guest speaker Howard Petch, the former principal of Bishop Burton Agricultural College. Discussions will be held so that the people can shape the message of the night.

Mr Allinson took his findings to DEFRA and key upland lobbyists believing farmers’ knowledge should be recognised as a national asset.

He said: “Environmental policy-makers are all agog with the idea of the Natural Capital in the uplands but noone’s pointing out the Social and Intellectual Capital of the people that live there. Pull that expertise and nous into your policy-making and you’ll transform the cost-benefit ratio of your environmental spending.

“Hefted to Hill is making that point through an imaginative approach with one eye on Treasury chiefs, such that they add the knowledge within upland farming to our GDP, alongside the universities. The public too needs to be educated about this value, and as taxpayers endorse giving farmers proper recompense for the national benefit that flows from their ‘hefted’ knowledge.”

The event will take place on Wednesday, November 27 at 9 to 11 Chapel Row, Middleton-in-Teesdale. There will be music by Michael Tarn and Andrew Bousfield,including a revival of the High Force Agricultural Show. Refreshments will be served but guests can take their own ‘tipple’. To attend visit eventbrite.co.uk