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Farming lives, past and present

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The AgriCultured Project presents documentation and analysis of farming livelihoods in Oxfordshire, one of the counties in South-east England. This project is a study in social ecology: how do people become farmers, how do they live as farmers, and how do they leave farming. The landscape may be shaped by farming, but the landscape which farmers inhabit is also a social, economic, and cultural one.

The AgriCultured project collected information using oral history techniques. Ten farmers were interviewed in 2002/2003. Transcripts of the farmers interviews are available on this website. Analysis of  five farmer's interviews are provided in a briefing document and an accompanying 'radio' documentary. You can listen to the radio programme on-line or download it. The briefing and radio programme are presented for use in a workshop by educational workers or the like.
The original audio recordings of the farmers interviews and documentation were deposited with the Centre for Oxfordshire Studies on 25 November 2003.
Two Oxfordshire farmers kept a photo-diary for the AgriCultured Project. They recorded their everyday life in early 2003, documenting the people, places and things that were meaningful to them. You can see their photographs and notes on this website.

Gloucestershire farmers have had similar farming experiences to the Oxfordshire Farmers interviewed for this project. They reviewed exerts from the Oxfordshire farmers interviews on a radio programme called Farming Days, broadcast in March 2004 on Forest of Dean Community Radio in Gloucestershire. 

The AgriCultured project contributed to A Rough Guide to the UK Farming Crises by Grassroots Action on Food and Farming
published in May 2004, see


Farming is in Crisis. Looking at Oxfordshire in particular, income from farming for most agricultural products was lower in the year 2000 than in 1990/91. For some types of farming it is much less. The average income in 1997/98 for lowland cattle and sheep for example was about 50% of the 1990/91 figure, similarly for pigs and poultry, for diary it was about 70%. Only for farming cereals was the average income above that of 1990/91 by about 50%.

Oxfordshire is the most rural County in the South East of England, its population density is 2.3 persons/hectare - little more than one third of its neighbour Berkshire. In 1996 Oxfordshire had 3,605 people in the full-time agricultural workforce.

There were 2,083 farm holdings in Oxfordshire in 1996 and the dominant farm types are cropping (64%) and grazing (30%). Although farm sizes are relatively large in Oxfordshire, most farms are family farms - about 91%, with little agribusiness. The age profile of farmers is heavily skewed: 57% are aged over 50, and 29% are over 60. It's not surprising then that almost half expect to retire in the next 10 years. But 52% don't expect a family member to take on the farm when they retire.

Source: The Oxfordshire farming study, Oxfordshire County Council, 1999

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Website last updated on Friday 4 August 2006

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