God's Lone Country

24th April 2019

Farmers who can’t afford to eat the food they produce. Local people who can’t afford to live in their own villages. Transport networks which isolate communities.

Set in the beautiful backdrop of the Peak District National Park, God’s Lone Country is a 12-minute film commissioned by the Food, Farming & Countryside Commission to expose the very real problems facing rural communities and give a voice to the millions of ordinary people who live in our countryside.

The social issues they face are every bit as serious and pressing as in urban areas – but they feel unheard and overlooked by policy makers in Westminster, and society in general.

The film features:
  • James Metcalfe, a tenant sheep farmer in Edale, who feels trapped in the “vicious circle” of a cheap food culture. He describes the “ridiculous” situation of being a food producer who can’t always afford the food he produces in the supermarket.
  • Cassie Hodgkinson, a student nurse and mother-of-three in Youlgrave who couldn’t afford to rent or buy in the desirable village where she was born and bred. She spent 18 years searching for a permanent home.
  • Kelly Shaw, a hard-working single mum from Gamesley who lives on a deprived housing estate on the edge of the Peak District National Park. Gamesley has many of the problems associated with inner-city areas but lacks the services we take for granted in big towns and cities. Yet thousands of ramblers, cyclists and horse-riders pass by Gamesley on the famous Trans Pennine Trail. It’s a lucrative tourist trade right on the doorstep – but Kelly and her community don’t see the benefits.

The Food, Farming and Countryside Commission has spent the last 18 months investigating how policy, business and community currently shape our food and farming systems and rural communities – what works, what doesn’t, and how a more integrated and inclusive approach could drive improved prospects for rural livelihoods.

We recently celebrated the inspiring stories heard on our national bike tour of rural Britain last year in a new book, Fork in the Road, but through this film, we tell the other side of the story.

We commissioned this film to challenge our rose-tinted images of the rural idyll and reveal the tougher realities of life in rural Britain. It tells the stories of three people struggling on low incomes, with poor access to affordable housing and public services.

As we say in the film: “in rural communities right across the country, people feel ignored and disconnected from the policy decisions made in Westminster. It’s time for a countryside where local people can afford to live. A countryside with good public services which serve every community. A fair food system that supports farming families.”

Note: this 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.