Alex James: A biodynamic lesson from Lincolnshire

Rrual Notebook
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The Independent Online

I wasn't desperate to go to Lincolnshire, I must admit. I'm not sure I've been back there since an appearance at a Radio 1 Roadshow in Skegness 20 years ago. Still, how often it is that things I am really looking forward to tend to end up being disappointing and others that I'm fairly nonplussed about end up inspiring me to take whole new paths in life. Maybe this is why the rich and successful are so bored half the time. They never get to do anything they don't want to do, the poor souls.

Anyway, Lincolnshire is enchantingly beautiful. Well, of course it is – everything in nature is, but on Thursday it was particularly well lit and it was a good time of year to be seeing it: at harvest.

Lincolnshire has more Grade 1 soil than anywhere else in the country. I didn't know you could get different grades, but there it is. One is the best kind, going down to five. As I drew near to Boston I saw all kinds of things growing: craning my neck round perilously to get a glimpse of a great swathes of bright pumpkins; potatoes being harvested and piled up in mounds as big as houses; and fields of celery lit up gold in the autumn sunlight.

I was in Lincolnshire to have a look at some bio- dynamic broccoli: I stood with a wise man in a field as big as a Second World War aerodrome, full of broccolis. Very pleasing, green on brown: Like a big piece of art you could eat. When I first encountered biodynamics, I must admit I thought it was a lot of flapdoodle about moonbeams, but the more I dig into it, the more I like it. The overriding principle of biodynamics is diversity. It seeks to allow each farm to have its own identity, so that a cauliflower grown in Lincolnshire will be appreciably different from a cauliflower grown in Oxfordshire, and so it should be. Of course it should be. It's biodynamic fortnight. Look for the biodynamic 'Demeter' label and let your taste buds be your guide.

Tunnel of love

I'd been standing in a polytunnel full of peppers for about 10 minutes when it dawned on me that I have to get one. So much more fun than a swimming pool, a polytunnel: such a nice place to be, slightly warmer than the world outside, and choc full of curling. climbing, plants. It was like being underwater, but nicer. Everyone should have one.

Speed the plough

For the whole time that I've lived here, we've only ever grown grass, for grazing, but as I write and breathe the top field, a 50-acre monster is being ploughed up for corn. It's a bit like redecorating.

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