Historical links between farming and the landscape in the Yorkshire Dales will be brought together in a new project aimed at creating a comprehensive record for future generations.

And members of the public are being asked to become volunteers to help in the long job of collecting written, photographic and oral information in the coming months.

The project – called “Voices from the Land – Farming and Landscape in the Yorkshire Dales” – has been launched by the Farmer Network thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF).

The volunteers will gather the material about farming practices and landscape features in the Dales and compare it to information gathered over the last century to highlight the historical link between the industry and the countryside.

Once the collection has been brought together, it will be made available through an exhibition at the National Park Authority’s Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes and it will be added to the museum’s archived collection and stored for future generations. It will also be accessible through a website and booklet.

The project – which received a £10,000 grant from the SDF and £17,500 from the HLF  – will work with farmers, Leeds University research students and local volunteers gathering information about current farming practices and comparing these with historical records from the 1930s to 1980s.  

Judith Donovan, CBE, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Member Champion for Promoting Understanding, said: “The landscape of this beautiful National Park is intrinsically linked with the farming community.

“For centuries it has been fashioned by the people who live and work here and its appearance owes much to them.

“This is a fascinating project that will enable everyone who has a love and an interest in the land to be aware of and to understand what the changes are and how they came about.

“An added bonus is that the results of the project will be permanently stored in the Authority-owned Dales Countryside Museum.”

Farmer Network project manager Veronica Waller, said: “We have appointed husband and wife team Rob and Harriet Fraser to work on the project following the success of their ‘Landkeepers’ exhibition, which documented and photographed upland farming in Cumbria from 2012 to 2014.  This was viewed by over 40,000 people and we are hoping the ‘Voices from the Land’ project will have a similar success in the Yorkshire Dales.”

Volunteers will be needed between October this year and next June and work will include:

  • Interviewing and photographing farmers
  • Transcribing interview recordings
  • Summarising recordings held in the museum archives.

An information and training day for potential volunteers will be held at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes on September 26from 10am to 4pm.

Numbers are limited so anyone who would like to be part of the team should email Harriet Fraser to find out more at inspire@somewhere-nowhere.com.

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