Polish peasants and British eco-toffs

In: Uncategorized

5 Apr 2008

A bizarre alliance is emerging between those who run the 1.5m small farms in Poland and British eco-toffs, if the International Herald Tribune is to be believed. A front page story yesterday started with the description of a small Polish farmer:

“He keeps his livestock in a straw-floored “barn” that is part of his house, entered through a kitchen door. He slaughters his own pigs. His wife milks cows by hand. He rejects genetically modified seeds. Instead of spraying his crops, he turns his fields in winter, preferring a workhorse to a tractor, to let the frost kill off pests residing there.”

It later that revealed that Sir Julian Rose, a British organic farmer (and evidently a double baronet), co-founded the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside. Jadwiga Lopata, the other co-founder, evidently received a visit from top British royalty: “Prince Charles visited her farm (by helicopter) with its solar panels and the black sheep (responsible for mowing the grass) in the yard.”

It is understandable that Polish peasants are anxious about their livelihoods – although few such small stakeholdings are ever likely to provide anything but the most meagre subsistence. But the British aristocrats should be pilloried without mercy for their romanticisation of such a backward system of agriculture.

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