Watch Wartime Farm
- 2 Seasons
Wartime Farm is a television series that takes viewers back in time to the period of the Second World War when the United Kingdom was grappling with the challenges of producing enough food to keep its population healthy and happy amidst an ongoing conflict with Nazi Germany.
Produced by the BBC and filmed on location at Morwellham Quay in Devon, England, Wartime Farm follows the experiences of a team of experts, including agricultural historian Ruth Goodman, archaeologist Peter Ginn, and historian Alex Langlands, as they try to recreate the conditions of a farm during the war years.
As they go about their work, Goodman, Ginn, and Langlands use authentic tools and methods of the era to learn about how farming practices were adjusted during wartime to maximize the amount of food that could be produced on private and public land alike.
Over the course of the series, the team undertakes a range of tasks, from collecting and processing manure to planting and harvesting crops, to caring for animals, to developing technologies that made it easier to work in the agricultural sector.
As they do so, they are faced with many of the same challenges that genuine British farmers of the WWII era faced, such as shortages of labor, fuel, and fertilizer, as well as varying weather conditions and the threat of attack by enemy air raids.
To help them navigate these difficulties, Goodman, Ginn, and Langlands employ a mix of creative thinking, traditional know-how, and the insights gained from studying historical documents and photographs.
For example, to make sure that they can get the best possible yield from their fields, the team experiments with methods like adding human hair, soot, and even ashes to soil to boost its nutrient content using a "digging for victory" campaign.
They also come up with alternative ways to fuel tractors and other machinery during a time of scarce gasoline, such as using gasifiers to convert wood chips and other waste products into a fuel source that could power engines.
Throughout the series, viewers get a sense of how the war transformed the British countryside, from the increased reliance on plowing and the expansion of hedgerow-lined field boundaries, to the removal of fences and fallow lands to make way for more crops.
In addition to exploring the agricultural side of things, the team also looks at how wartime impacted everyday life in Britain more generally, such as the use of "blackout" curtains to keep light from spilling out from homes or public buildings, which could signal an easier target for bombs.
On a lighter note, Goodman and her fellow participants also delve into some of the culinary staples of the period, preparing popular dishes like savory pies or learning how to create jams and preserves using fruit gathered from hedgerows.
Throughout it all, viewers are guided through the many fascinating and unexpected elements of life on a wartime farm, from the hard work and long hours required to help the nation feed itself, to the ingenuity and resilience shown in the face of constant danger and uncertainty.
With its blend of historical detail, practical insights into farming, and engaging on-camera personalities, Wartime Farm offers a rich and thought-provoking viewing experience for anyone with an interest in the history of the Second World War, British culture, or the challenges of farming in uncertain times.
Wartime Farm is a series that is currently running and has 2 seasons (9 episodes). The series first aired on September 6, 2012.