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Cumbrian role in key national farm and countryside study

Cumbria inquiry coordinator and University of Cumbria PhD student, Hannah Field

A national charitable body formed to bring fresh thinking on food production, farming and rural community support is set to make important steps forward in Cumbria.

The Food, Farming and Countryside Commission’s work in the county is being hosted by University of Cumbria and one of its PhD students will play a key role as the Cumbria inquiry’s coordinator in a far-reaching programme to put some of the 15 recommendations in place.

Following the commission’s report, Our Future in the Land, Hannah Field, who lives near Cockermouth, will work with organisations and individuals on a raft of exploratory measures designed to make tangible differences.

Ms Field, who has studied at the university since being an undergraduate, said she was very pleased to have been given the opportunity to coordinate the commission’s Cumbria inquiry.

She said: “The last few months have reminded us how critical the supply of good quality food and access to our countryside is. This is a crucial time for agriculture and we are acutely aware of the importance of the commission’s work in the county.”

Professor Julia Aglionby, professor of practice at the university’s Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas

Led by Professor Julia Aglionby, a professor of practice at the university’s Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas, based at Ambleside campus, areas of investigation will include optimum grazing levels in the uplands and the restoration of hedgerows across Cumbria through a ‘real hedge fund’.

Prof Aglionby said: “We would also like to explore how we can connect people with our countryside in a more meaningful way to boost health and wellbeing.

“Hannah Field’s Cumbrian experience and empathy will be invaluable. She has worked with the Forestry Commission and Friends of the Lake District and will be continuing her PhD studies into delivering multiple benefits from common land.”

The commission was an independent inquiry which ran from 2017 until April this year. Alongside food production, and support to farming and rural communities, it also considered the many benefits the countryside brings.

Separate inquiries are now being carried out in Devon and Cambridgeshire, as well as Cumbria. Studies are also taking place in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Commission CEO, Sue Pritchard, said: “We are delighted to welcome Hannah to our growing team. It is so important our work is strongly based and rooted in the countryside. Activities in Cumbria will complement all the other inquiries.”

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