In Summer 2021, with a huge amount of support, members of the public joined our hand Earth Gesture Return artists, Rachael Champion, Amy & Oliver Thomas-Irvine and Jim Woodall, to harvest two fields of Atle Spring Wheat at Hatton Farm, Warwickshire. The long straw harvest will be used for ambitious public art installation Hand Earth Gesture Return, whilst the grain is being turned into flour. It will be used to share the local heritage and sustainable growing story, raise money for the project and turned into food to be shared with the community.
One team worked one field with scythes, lead by experiences scythers Tom DIllon, Gemma and Kip Warr, and bound and stooked sheaves under the expert guidance of Master Thatcher Westley Marriott. The second field was harvested with an old reaper binder thanks to Mick Shirely, Tim and the team.
Thatching straw is cut green and left to ripen slowing in the field, to stop the straw drying too quickly and going brittle. After two weeks left stooked in the field, the artists and team came back to thresh the grain and learn how to thatch a rick, again with Westley Marriott.
One harvested, the grain was cleaned at winnowed with John Letts of Heritage Harvest Ltd. and founder of the Heritage Grain Trust. It is being stone ground by Offley Mill, Eccleshall, Staffs.
A huge thanks to all that participated and helped make this happen. Especially those already mentioned, Thomas Maynard at Hatton Farm, the production team and volunteers, the Scythe Association, Warwickshire Rural Hub and the National Farmers Union. Thanks to the players of the National Lottery and the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.