When we established Horsell’s Farm Enterprises in 1999 we, Sophie and Roger Scruton, were keen to play our part in reviving the rural economy. We had acquired a run-down sheep-farm, and a few unprofitable animals, and were acutely aware of the need to bring urban income into the rural landscape if our countryside is to survive. Horsell’s Farm Enterprises was designed to supply this need. The small farms round about us were struggling in the business of turning grass into meat and milk. The solution, we saw, was to turn grass into ideas, which could be sold down the internet into the urban market, so bringing profit to the farm.
How do you turn grass into ideas? There are several methods. First you can write about it, and about the human fauna that hide in grass. Roger has followed this line, with regular columns about the countryside and life on the farm for various publications, including The Financial Times, Country Life and The Spectator. He has also written two widely acclaimed books on living with grass, On Hunting, 1998, and News from Somewhere, 2003. He is always looking for outlets for this work, and is currently working on a sequel to those books, dealing with the mysteries of the equestrian cult in Britain.
Our rural consultancy has offered advice and guidance to both commercial and charitable enterprises, as well as campaigning groups and academic researchers, on matters that draw on the life, the scent and the peace of grass. We would like to broaden this part of our business, so as to offer a summer school where students will learn the arts of countryside maintenance, including stonewalling, hedge-planting and hedge-laying, along with the environmental science of a sustainable grass economy. Our ability to combine the practical with the philosophical, the log-cutting with the logic-chopping, in addition to our knowledge of the local food economy and wine, and local history means we can offer students a wide ranging and fulfilling educational experience.