The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel
Published by Transworld Publishers Limited on April 15th 2017
Genres: Ecology, Ecosystems & Habitats, Environmental Policy, Nature
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, although it left me feeling a strange mix of both hope and despair.
The Hare’s Hope
Hope, because it shows just how the countryside can be rejuvenated through careful, nature-friendly farming. In this case Lewis-Stempel simply plants a wheat field with wild flower seeds in the mix, and creates a border around the field of wild flowers.
The transformation is incredible: “The poppies, corn chamomile, cornflower and corn marigold light up the wheat.” With eloquent prose, he describes how his new meadow “buzzes with flies, crickets and grasshoppers, and hums with bees. There are field mice and voles, nameless and numberless flies, and bees galore.” And that’s before he has started talking about the finches, partridges, hawks, foxes, hares … All of this is compared to the “Chemical Brothers” fields next door: “There are no butterflies fluttering, no songbirds singing, only tomb-time stillness and silence.”
The Hare’s Despair
Despair, because it’s one field amongst millions, and though the author rants against the “silent, sterile, open-roofed factories for agribusiness,” he is fully aware that the “chemically addicted agri-capitalism” he describes has taken over much of western Europe’s fields and is unlikely to change, and that the decline of farmland flowers, insects and birds is likely to continue unless widespread change occurs and not piecemeal improvements here and there.
However, there is always the possibility that hope trumps despair. There is always room for optimism. For example, the author cites growing evidence that organic, eco-farming can lead to equal or higher production rates per acre/tree than chemical, industrial farming.
In this respect, this book is more than an enjoyable book to read; it is a highly important one.
Other books by Lewis-Stempel
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