Letters to the BV Editor May 2022


Thank you, Gillingham
I would like to send my sincere thanks to three very kind Gillingham people.
On Wednesday morning 6 April I was cycling along Queen Street and had an accident which resulted in me being taken to hospital via ambulance – I had sustained a broken elbow.
The care, kindness and response from Rose Love, Susannah (resident of Queen Street) and a construction worker from nearby was superb.
I need to extend my heartfelt thanks to them.
Kathleen Holden, Zeals

On low carbon farming
I agree with James Cossins column (BV April issue, p74). that we need to take food production in the UK seriously, not rely so much on imports, and that food shortages are an ever increasing danger.
However in one of the world’s most nature-depleted countries we have to take the regeneration of nature seriously too. Intensive farming, with a high reliance on fertilisers (also discussed in George Hosford’s excellent column in the same issue), have degraded soils to a dangerous level over the last 70 years and made agriculture a major source of carbon emissions. Using this system we may have less than 30 years of top soil remaining to feed ourselves.
An integrated approach is both possible and desirable which produces low carbon agriculture, restores soils, combines growing crops with rewilding marginal land and caring for hedgerows and secures the UK’s food supply. It won’t happen if we keep making all the same old mistakes.
The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill could provide us with that approach. Google it and ask your MP and local councillors to support it.
John Marsh, Sherborne.

Neither the climate crisis nor the biodiversity collapse will wait for more favourable socio-political conditions for us to take a grip on our future. Whether we like it or not, it’s essential to support a global transition towards sustainable food systems, within which organic farming and other agroecological approaches are key.
The latest IPCC report says that global temperature is likely to increase by more than 3ºC in the coming decades. Severe harvest failures will become common.
The UK is already one of the world’s most nature-depleted countries – in the bottom 10% globally and last in the G7. The grim reality is that we have prioritised food above the environment for the last 60 years.
There is much talk of the need to intensify food production, but one third of food produced globally is going to waste. Just 55% of the world’s crop calories are directly eaten by humans; 36% is used for animal feed and 9% for industrial use. We need fundamental change in our diet, our food system and our consumption, not just ‘more food’.
The UK’s reliance on imported feed, fuel and other inputs are being magnified through the lens of Putin’s war but these issues within our food supply chain are not new.
We need systems that rely on less intensive use of increasingly scarce inputs in large part derived from fossil fuel resources.
Continued intensification will undoubtedly create an even greater long-term threat to UK food security, as our overall agricultural capacity will be undermined and irretrievably diminished.
Peter Walker, Shaftesbury

The Podcast
What a terrific idea the new podcast is – thank you so much! I love the BV, and look forward to it every month. It stands head and shoulders above other ‘free magazines’ for its intelligence, humour, and sheer interesting content.
However – I am 73, and am not ashamed to admit that I do not love reading on my iPad for any length of time.
Two days ago I wasn’t sure what a ‘podcast’ was (turns out it’s no different to an audiobook, really). But I have just spent a lovely afternoon baking in the kitchen, catching up on the April issue (I was one of those caught out by your technical issue last month).
The podcast is the answer! I can now flip through the magazine to enjoy the stunning photography and art, and read the pages I love most. And now I can have the rest of it read to me! The voices you have selected are perfect (well done Jenny and Terry!), and on top of which, I achieved bonus points with my grandson when I told him on the phone ‘hold on while I pause my podcast’.
Thank you BV team!
Mary Grey, Wincanton

Book corner
I have finally acted upon my monthly impulse to write and tell you (a fact which I am sure you already know) how excellent Wayne Winstone’s book choices are every single month. He never fails to lure me in with his choices and descriptions, and those that I have purchased have fulfilled his promises perfectly.
I have found new popularity as the giver of perfect books for gifts, I have discovered new authors for myself, and every month my ‘To Be Read’ pile grows a little.
How refreshing it is to find intellligent, thoughtful recommendations that are not simply the latest ‘big hits’, but rather a quiet, thoughtful look at one or two truly well-written titles that in my own experience have always been worth seeking out.
It’s one of the must-read pages I flip to first. Thank you!
Karen Shaw, Wimborne

Learning how to read
I have noticed on your Index page that you encourage people to use the ‘clickable’ page numbers. I had ignored this advice for a while – I am 76 years old, I think I know how to turn the pages of a magazine – even a digital one.
But last month I did not read the whole magazine in one go, as usual, and instead came back to it a few days later.
I remembered I had stopped at the antiques, so I tried out the index clicking.
Well. I now feel immensely clever.
Because now I can really read the magazine the way I’ve always wanted to by using the index – the editors letter, then the letters page, the local history and Tales from the Vale, and then a check in with the deaths page. Back to the news, and then I can turn the pages as I wish until I reach the puzzles for a coffee break.
It’s a marvel. Apologies for not catching on sooner. I am rather aware you have been saying this for many months!
Gwen Hines, Wincanton
(you’re not alone, Gwen – but I’m so glad you’ve worked it out. It’s such a big magazine most people take well over half an hour to read us so it makes sense to dip in and out – you do have a whole month til the next one, no need to rush it! – Ed)

“Bruton makes its bid for this years most confusing road signs…” Shared with us on Twitter by the Mayor of Bruton, Ewan Jones


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