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B4RN Interview: Forty Farms Photographer Amy Bateman

December 20th, 2022
Author: Mark Gray
Posted In: Latest news

Yan C Amy Bateman

The farmer and photographer behind the Forty Farms book and exhibition took a little time recently to talk to B4RN.

Amy Bateman’s creation tells the story of farms across Cumbria. A number of the farms featured (including Amy’s) are current or prospective B4RN customers.

Amy told us about the origins of the book; how the exhibition’s going; and how B4RN helps her professional and family life.

Tell us how the book came about?

“Forty Farms is the concept of my publisher and editor, who’s called Dave Felton, and he has a Cumbrian publishing house called Inspired by Lakeland. He approached me in November 2020 and said, ‘I’ve got an idea for a book and you’re my first choice. A photography book on farming’. You get a very well massaged ego when somebody approaches you like that. And so I said, ‘Ohhhh gosh, yes! That sounds good!’

“The project started during lockdown and we compiled a list – socially distanced – across this picnic table, which is quite amusing – it’s not the not the glamorous world of book writing, as you’d expect. What we wanted was that the whole project had to have relevance, so the farms in there had to be have integrity. They needed to be ‘real farms’, not just social media voices. They needed to be very diverse. The diversity of farmers that we have here, from young farmers to old farmers, female farmers, family farms, farms that are diversifying against all the pressures that the future is throwing at them.”

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Farming’s at a crucial juncture, isn’t it?

“Ultimately, the driver for the book was that farming is at a very pivotal point of change at the moment due to various factors. External factors from politics, trade deals, economics, fuel prices, fertiliser prices, people making different dietary choices, and then of course we’re hand in hand with the fact that in Cumbria here the landscape’s incredibly cherished as a National Park. People after the pandemic particularly have realised its value and a lot more people have come here for leisure. We need to educate and inform those people that are unaware of the the farming practises that are actually occurring on the ground. So we wanted to tell a variety of stories to basically have those conversations, but through photography and through images.

“There’s that old saying that an image can tell a thousand words, but there are plenty of books about farming, but a lot of those books hark to the past. A lot of those books are just written in text and we wanted almost a coffee table book but with the stories of the farmers words. With the farmers intertwined. So there’s a very strong narrative that runs through throughout it.”

So, how’s the book doing?

“[It’s] outstripped any expectations and we’ve now just put our 4th print run order in after it only came out on the 16th of September. Just wonderful. I think it’s it’s hit a nerve, hasn’t it? It’s struck a chord with people. There’s the whole issue of food security and caring for the environment. We need to manage these landscapes and people want to know, people want to understand, people want to help.”

The exhibition’s proved popular too, hasn’t it?

“It’s been remarkably successful. Unbelievable, unprecedented interest in it. It’s been one of Rheghed’s most successful exhibitions. They’ve been utterly delighted. And we’ve had more than 30,000 visitors so far. Absolutely stunning. The plan is to tour it across the North West.”

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Turning the conversation to B4RN, has your connection helped, professionally?

“Oh without a doubt. I’m obviously a photographer and I send very large file sizes so the benefit of B4RN, for me, is the upload and the download speeds and being able to very efficiently and quickly send files to to clients. Before we got B4RN here, a friend had it about a mile away and I used to drive to her house and use her B4RN to upload things! I could be waiting an hour here for files to be uploaded but I’d go there and be done in five minutes.

“The funny thing is I’m almost spoiled now by fast speed. I work so efficiently now and my workflow is speeded up because I can send huge files very, very fast and back things up quickly to cloud servers and things like that. It’s just streamlined my workflow quite remarkably and I would struggle without it.”

And has B4RN helped with family life?

“Well, it does mean that Netflix can be streaming and the kids can be doing homework. We’ve got three kids and increasingly the device use is going up, which we try and resist! My husband can be doing a podcast or watching a podcast or something and the kids can be watching telly, and one could be doing homework and I could still be working without impacting on anybody’s speed.”

– Buy the Forty Farms book in good book shops or direct from Amy by clicking here.

– The free exhibition is on at the Rheged until 4th January.

– Farms in the book which have B4RN or are prospective customers include:

Croft Foot (Amy Bateman’s farm) ; Strickley ; Cannerhaugh Farm ; Croglin High Hall ; Meg Bank ; Brackenburgh ; Piper Hole.

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Stories from out in the field from our very happy customers

One residential customer in Over Kellet used to know whether it was worth firing up her computer by looking out of her front window to see what the weather was doing with her telephone line.

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