Fork in the Road

16th April 2019

In the course of seven months, 24 researchers travelled the UK, from Sheppey to Shetland, Cardigan to Cromer, Armagh to St Austell.

They met over 300 people, groups and businesses – and they encountered warmth and generosity wherever they went. People shared their stories and their experiences, their dinner and, occasionally, offered a bed for the night.

We embarked on this journey to inform the work of the Commission, so we could understand in depth and detail the real, grounded stories from everyday life in the countryside. But we soon realised that there was another story to tell, that couldn’t be contained in a conventional commission report, one that we wanted to show and share. We didn’t want this to be just part of the story; we wanted it to be the story.

In our now worryingly polarised and tribal country, it is more important than ever to find those points of reconnection – going to places which feel very different to those we’re used to, beyond what feels comfortable and commonplace, and genuinely curious to find out what you might learn. When it comes to the huge choices before us – our relationship with Europe, how we’ll tackle climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, degraded soils, air and water quality, regenerating our economy and our communities – the path to genuine progress will have to be taken together.

This book curates glimpses of the journey round the country; who our researchers met, what they saw and heard, and what they found when they travelled the UK for the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission.

Note: this book was originally published on the RSA website (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), which hosted the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission between November 2017-April 2020.