Where are the Fellows who Cut the Hay?

By Robert Ashton

The story of how almost forgotten trades and ways are being rediscovered in rural Britain today.

Environment | Nature
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Optimistic yet realistic, Robert Ashton's Where are the Fellows Who Cut the Hay? is a thoughtful exploration of rural life in the twenty-first century, and how the new generation is finding value in traditional country trades and ways. 

Robert Ashton grew up in Suffolk and spent his teenage years working on farms. After agricultural college he married a farmer’s daughter and for ten years worked in sales and marketing for a fertiliser company. While his career has taken him in different directions, it is farming that has remained his consistent interest. 

In Where are the Fellows Who Cut the Hay? Robert takes inspiration from oral historian George Ewart Evans's collection of stories from people who remembered how life was in rural Suffolk before the First World War. Robert explores those stories and meets people who today are bringing back past techniques and approaches to care for the countryside.

The new generation are leading this change of direction. Robert finds that the looming climate crisis, recent pandemic, growing dissatisfaction with the rat-race, and rocketing energy costs are driving people toward ways that are ethical, sustainable, natural, and above all, kinder to the world. 

In this book, Robert weaves their stories and his personal narrative together to share how farming practices have changed over the years, and how - against all odds - we urgently need to go backwards in order to progress.

Image credits: Illustration by John Richardson. Book cover and assets designed by Mecob. 

Book designs, cover and other images are for illustrative purposes and may differ from final design.

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    Robert Ashton

    Robert Ashton is a professional writer, an experienced social entrepreneur and a popular speaker. He has a reputation for being outspoken, ethical and some say even maverick. After a 30 year career problem solving for charities, social enterprises and small businesses, he returned to full-time education, graduating from the University of East Anglia in 2020 with a creative writing MA. This book was the result.

  • There is an endless cycle to life as it passes down the generations; we are conceived, born, raised, work, marry, have families and then grow old and die. The natural world around us remains a constant to be discovered afresh as each new generation starts to explore the world beyond the childhood home.

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