The 156th Mendip Ploughing Match was held on Yeo Valley’s Priddy Hill Farm earlier this month. A celebration of the local community, the soil, and of the heritage of the countryside, the Match also forms a stage in the progress of the Mendip champion to the National Ploughing Championships.
Featuring ploughing by hand, by horse, by tractor and even by steam engine, the art of ploughing through the ages is represented. Many of these forms of ploughing are unsustainable in modern agriculture so matches such as this enable people to come together and keep the skills alive. The love for these old machines - the tiny horticultural ploughs, a vintage Massey Ferguson that is over 50 years old - and the skill of those who maintain them is apparent all around. Vintage tractor entries made up the majority of competitors.
Yeo Valley Farm Manager, Jon Wilson, judged the grain and fodder classes, in which the best bale of hay, or 20lb bushel of oats is awarded a prize. There is even a class for the best piece of turf, and the heaviest pumpkin!
The atmosphere is that of a village fete. Mary Mead, founder of Yeo Valley, is one of the vice presidents of the society and a number of staff participated. Some ploughed, some judged, and some just turned up for the fun.
Want more? Watch the film of the 2012 Mendip Ploughing Match.