A NEW exhibition that records the stories of farming in Cumbria at a pivotal moment in British agriculture opens at Rheged, near Penrith, this week.

Forty Farms from British Life Photographer of the Year, Amy Bateman, opens in the Gallery at Rheged, Penrith from today (Fri) to January 4 2023.

In March 2021, Amy embarked on a journey to record the stories of Forty Farms in the Lake District and Cumbria, at a pivotal moment for British agriculture.

From the Herdwick-grazed commons to big sky Solway marshes, from isolated farmsteads unchanged in generations to cutting-edge innovation; from world class sheep breeders to award-winning cheese makers, Forty Farms is a visual record of farming during a period of profound change.

Over the course of a year, Amy conducted frank conversations about the financial challenge of farming in a fast-changing world; about the tightrope balance of producing quality food for the nation in sensitive heritage landscapes; and about the challenges and opportunities of working in an area that is internationally famed for its beauty.

The exhibition features contributions from the internationally best-selling author and farmer James Rebanks, from three-star Michelin Chef and farmer, Simon Rogan of the famous Cartmel restaurant L’Enclume, from veteran damson grower Hartley Trotter, from ‘King of the Herdwicks’ Anthony Hartley and from Tebay’s Low Chapel farm which 50 years ago became a story of farm diversification with the creation of Tebay Services.

Photographer Amy Bateman says, “I have tried to reflect the widest possible range of farmers engaged with the widest variety of animals, crops, landscapes and diversifications”

“The accompanying conversations with farmers – often frank, sometimes funny, and occasionally painful – reflect the critical issues facing farming today.

"All my conversations with the farmers took me to pastures new.

"Yet among the differing views – over subsidies, land use, organic accreditation, rewilding, tourism, soil, food security and Brexit – there are unifying themes: a commitment to the land and livestock, a belief in community and humour.”