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Sunday 16 August 2009
7:00pm - 8:00pm
Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury head for Oxfordshire, where they find out about the ancient art of thatching, and get a bird's-eye view of the landscape from a microlight.
John Craven investigates the environmental effects of fish farming, and asks what is behind the decline of wild salmon and trout in Scottish rivers.
Adam Henson faces a battle against the weather down on the farm as he gets in the harvest, and Katie Knapman meets a group of homeless people who escape life on the city streets by working on a farm in Sussex.
North Oxfordshire is renowned for its picture postcard thatched cottages, but changes in farming methods mean the vital thatching materials are becoming harder to find. Matt meets a thatcher who uses triticale -- a cross between wheat and rye -- that he grows himself. He hears that the recent spate of wet summers mean the crops have been struggling, but later he gets a demonstration in the art of thatching and finds out what it’s like to live with a thatched roof.
Otmoor is a wetland nature reserve just outside Oxford, which gives refuge to migrating wading birds. During August the birds are away, so Julia joins the RSPB as it takes advantage of this window of opportunity to carry out restoration work on their habitat.
While in Otmoor, Julia also gets a demonstration from the Pond Conservation Trust on how anyone can create their own wildlife friendly ponds in the back garden.
A decade ago a Banbury farmer decided to open up his wildlife rich farmland to visitors wanting to share the joys of his resident colony of badgers. He and his wife see the badgers as part of their family and they have studied them for years. Matt joins some regular visitors on a badger watch.
Microlight aircraft are an affordable way to take to the skies for people who can’t stretch to an aeroplane. Julia meets a farmer who loves the sport so much she’s ploughed up a field to create a landing strip for her aircraft – then Julia dons flying helmet and goggles, to have a go herself.
Swimming in rivers is an increasingly popular activity for people who want to get away from the confines of the swimming pool and get really close to nature. The Thames, as it slowly makes its shallow way through Port Meadow on the outskirts of Oxford, is an ideal spot to give it a try, but how safe is it?
Julia meets some locals who have been river swimming for years and hears their tips for taking a dip in the wild in safety. Meanwhile just down the river, Matt takes to the water with Olympic swimmer Karen Pickering.
Katie Knapman spends the day with London charity Thames Reach and takes part in their Farm and Conservation Project. She joins a group of homeless people as they journey from the capital to a farm in Sussex to help with the potato harvest.
It’s healthy, it’s tasty and nowadays it’s very, very cheap. Salmon is one of the most popular fish sold in our supermarkets, and annual consumption has trebled in the past ten years. Since the 1970s, fish farming has boomed as an industry, and Scotland is one of the largest producers in the world. It injects millions into the rural economy but -- conservationists would argue -- at a cost to the environment. John Craven investigates.
Adam, like most farmers in the country, is keeping a wary eye on the weather as he desperately wants to get his harvest in. Any more rain could spell disaster, as much of the crop will be ruined. But there’s still plenty of work to be done and Adam is kept busy weaning lambs off their mothers and selecting animals to be taken to the local abattoir.
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