Bishop of Norwich Praises Farmers for Helping Countryside

The Bishop of Norwich has praised the contribution of farmers to the countryside at a recent service held as part of a west Norfolk harvest festival.

The Bishop of Norwich has commended farmers and rural entrepreneurs at a west Norfolk harvest festival for helping to boost prosperity in the countryside.

The Rt Rev Graham James praised their "extraordinary flexibility and inventiveness" over the past decade but told the congregation at the festival that it had "not been celebrated as it should".

"Farm shops and tourism ventures abound but many new rural businesses have been created in old farm buildings," said Bishop Graham, who is also president of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.

"Farmers have done this to make money, of course, but also because of their commitment to agriculture, the land and the countryside. The future of our countryside depends on this more than we often realise," he added.

The wider scale initiatives of British Sugar just a few miles also caught the praise of the Bishop of Norwich, also a rural economy board member of Shaping Norfolk's Future, reports .

"The wider sugar beet industry is also showing a new flexibility and imagination. At Wissington - the biggest sugar beet factory in Europe - a new bio-fuel plant is being developed which will produce green and environmentally friendly fuel for motor vehicles."

It is doubling the size of the country's largest single "green" tomato glasshouse, which uses waste heat and carbon dioxide from the sugar factory to grow the plants.

Bishop Graham also reflected on the impact of globalisation on food, highlighting the fact that locally-grown food no longer filled the bulk of the consumer's trolley.

"Our shops are full of food from all over the world. Whether all this is environmentally sustainable or desirable is a big question. In my lifetime there's been a revolution in the range and quality of foodstuffs on offer and a massive reduction in their cost proportionate to our income."

He reminded the congregation gathered at St Mary's Church, Stradsett, however, of the stark reality of hunger that so many people around the world continue to face.

"We don't come to harvest thanksgiving fearing hunger here, though there are many millions of people around the world for whom the fear of hunger is a daily reality. That's a perspective we must not forget."

The new rural adviser for the Church of England's Diocese of Norwich and the Methodist Church in East Anglia, the Rev Lorna Allies, will be commissioned at Hickling Methodist Church on Tuesday 17 October.

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