By Debbie James

This year more than ever I am alert to the first signs of spring.

The newness of spring brings hope after a long period of cold, dark days and bare trees.

Our first calf was born last week, there are snowdrops in flower in the woodland and the sun is slipping from the horizon that little bit later each day.

The world is coming to life again.

It’s a relief when the days begin to lengthen and none more so this year after weeks separated from family and friends and daily doses of news short on cheer.

Life and work on a dairy farm has a rhythm that’s in tune with nature and the four seasons.

Nobody welcomes spring sunshine quite like a farmer.

One of the highlights on any dairy farm is when the cows go out to pasture in the spring. Excited cows leap and jostle for position as they head out to grass.

For me, that moment is the surest sign that spring has well and truly sprung.

The one certainty in these uncertain times is that the seasons will come and go but, with the first of the new season lambs frolicking in the fields and buds appearing on the trees, what better time to start a conversation about the value of locally produced food.

There is a general realisation that we are now too reliant on global food supply chains. We currently import half of what we eat.

The farming message has sometimes been too simple. We are urged to ‘Buy British’ or to ‘Support British Farmers’.

Why should they?

Maybe because food is as much of a public concern as health and social care.

The pandemic has taught us many things, the urgent need to shorten supply chains and to challenge the domination of supermarkets among those.

We have all this tremendous agricultural land and centuries of perfected farming practices.

Buying British and, where possible, local also means that everyone, not only farmers, can be in tune with the seasons.