Stories

Robert Savery

8th-generation farmer

Robert's family have been farming at South Brent for 8 generations. Here he talks about boyhood memories of lambing outside, the change from horse power to tractor, the formation of the Whiteface Dartmoor Sheep Breeders Association, and the 'founding-fathers'. Listen >

Jill and Matt Bennett

First-time farmers

Jill and Matt talk about their first-time farming experiences – why they swapped successful careers to start farming with fresh eyes, why they chose Dartmoor, and why they chose the Whiteface Dartmoor sheep – sharing their hopes and aspirations. Listen >

Patrick and Pat Coker

Farmers at Bittleford Farm, Widecombe

Patrick tells the story of meeting Pat, his future wife, and how sad family circumstances eventually provided them with a golden opportunity. Also discover more fascinating insights about ancient Whiteface Dartmoor sheep and those who farmed them. Listen >

Phil and Richard Coker

5th-generation and 6th-generation farmers at Runnage

Phil left school to take over Runnage farm after the tragic death of his father, and tells us how he made the farm what it is today and his heritage. Richard, Phil's son, tells us of his own passion for farming, Whiteface Dartmoor sheep, and his aspirations for the future of farming on Dartmoor. Listen >

Paul and Vicky Pearce

About to take over family farm

Paul reminisces on childhood memories, and touches on how change is not always for the better with the intensification of hill farms. Making a living is paramount to both Paul and Vicky, who discuss diversification, adding value to farm produce, and contracting as ways to boost income. Listen >

Arnold Cole

A poignant interview: Arnold died shortly after this film was made

I'd like to thank Arnold's family for sharing his reminiscences of his early years of farming on Dartmoor. With no wellies, no raincoats, and no health and safety, it was a community where everyone helped each other during those busy times in the farming calendar. Listen >

Rob Wolton

Worked for Natural England

Robert talks about Dartmoor's habitat and wildlife, and how things change over the millennia. He looks at Dartmoor from the perspective of an ecologist who has experience of working with communities and the people who farm and live there.
Listen >

Graham Goddard

Farmer realises his boyhood dream

Through Graham's experience of riding on Dartmoor from the age of 13, he became firm friends with many farmers. In this interview he describes how he realised his dream of owning a farm on Dartmoor, and his understanding of the moor and how his farming methods reflect this. Listen >

Matt Cole

Arnold's son – farmer near Yelverton

Matt talks about the progressive farming methods he employs within the restrictions of Dartmoor National Park. He touches on the need for excellent stockmanship, the choice of suitable breeds, the use of environmental schemes, and engagement with visitors. Listen >

Annie Monroe

Farmer near Pondsworthy

Annie came down in the 60s to work on a Dartmoor farm – it was a hard life with most daily chores done by hand or horse, with harsh winters. Annie also talks about the 'lairing' of stock on the commons and 'new takes'. Listen >

The hut is full of voices and stories, a snapshot of past and present hill farming, and of the personalities and characters that make up Dartmoor’s farming community.

Looking forward, this oral history highlights ways in which the past can be used to shape the future, to inspire new ways to keep hill farming viable and valued, all the while retaining continuity.