50 Farmers' Tales

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This online archive holds the records of a project to study how farms and farming in Kent have changed between 1965 and 2015. The project was conducted in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the University of Kent at Canterbury by staff and students in the School of Anthropology and Conservation.

The main aim was to better understand social and ecological changes in the Kent landscape over the last 50 years, through an analysis of remote images (aerial photos, maps and satellite images) as well as 50 interviews with farmers on how their farms have changed during this period. The maps provided a macroscopic view of change in land use, while the interviews provided the rich and detailed stories of how change was perceived and responded to on the ground, so to speak. The 50 Farmers’ Tales indicate the great diversity of farms in Kent today and the often unique ways they have adapted to change in the past and are planning for change in the future.

This archive is organised via an interactive map that links to transcripts, audio and video recordings of all the farmers interviewed. There are also sections holding the GIS mapsvideos of interviews and short films, reports on analyses of the research, and links to additional resources on the web, such as archival films, data on farming today, farmers markets and educational opportunities.

A feature documentary, 50 Farmer’s Tales, produced and edited by Joe Spence, and based on the filmed interviews and historical footage, can be viewed here.

We encourage all visitors to the archive to leave comments and contributions, for specific farmers if they wish, or more generally for other viewers to the site and the project organisers as well.

The 50 Farmers’ Tales project was designed and conducted by a team of staff and undergraduate students from Kent’s School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC), representing the full breadth of disciplinary fields in the School (Social-Cultural and Biological Anthropology, Human Ecology, Conservation Sciences and Environmental Social Science). For details see the making of the archive.

The project was funded by the University of Kent’s 50th Anniversary Fund, the Centre for Biocultural Diversity and the School of Anthropology and Conservation and we are grateful for their continued support of this archive, which we hope will still be around when the University celebrates its 100th birthday.