Combining expertise from farmers, historians, scientists and more, A Year on the Field is an exciting new multi-national project set up to examine the farming of one crop across the globe through the centuries. In this month’s episode of Finally Friday we chat to two members of the project, discussing everything from cultivation to communication. Claus Kropp is the Project Coordinator for A Year on the Field and currently also manages the Lauresham Laboratory for Experimental Archaeology, in Germany, one of the participating organisations in the project. Pete Watson is a representative of Howell Living History Farm, a facility of the Mercer County Park Commission.
|EXARC Member: Claus Kropp (DE)
Claus Kropp is the Project Coordinator for A Year on the Field and currently also manages the Lauresham Laboratory for Experimental Archaeology, in Germany, one of the participating organisations in the project. Claus has a background in medieval history, focussing particularly on medieval agriculture, and also a passionate interest in ox-driving, which he partakes in both professionally and personally... Read More
|Pete Watson (US)
Pete Watson is a representative of Howell Living History Farm, a facility of the Mercer County Park Commission. The Farm is based in the USA and is a participating organisation in A Year on the Field exploring the agricultural practices of the region circa 1900. The farm is also open to the public and plays an important role giving visitors the chance to see for themselves how food and farming functioned in the past.
Intro by Matilda: It's the first Friday of the month, which means that it's time for the next episode of #FinallyFriday. Bringing you insights and discussions from around the world focussing on experimental archaeology, ancient technology, archaeological open-air museums and interpretation.
Phoebe: It's the first Friday of the month, which means it's time for the next episode of #FinallyFriday. My name is Phoebe Baker and today I'm joined by two specialists from our EXARC community, focusing on ancient agriculture and wheat with the A Year on the Field project. A Year on the Field is a multinational project combining expertise from farmers, historians, scientists and more, to examine the cultivation of one crop across the globe through the centuries. Beginning in autumn 2021, the first year of A Year on the Field is focusing on the cultivation of wheat, one of the most important agricultural crops globally for millennia.
Claus Kropp is a project coordinator for A Year on the Field and currently also manages the Lauresham Laboratory for Experimental Archaeology in Germany, one of the participating organizations in the project. Claus has a background in medieval history, focusing particularly on medieval agriculture and also a passionate interest in ox driving, which he partakes in both professionally and personally.
Pete Watson is a representative of Howell Living History Farm, a facility of the Mercer County Park Commission.The farm is based in the USA and is a participating organization in A Year in the Field, exploring the agricultural practices of the region circa 1900. The farm is also open to the public and plays an important role, giving visitors the chance to see for themselves how food and farming functioned in the past.
So welcome to you both. Thank you very much for joining me today. And this sounds like a super interesting project. I have a quick question to start you off, which, Claus, you might be able to start with, which is: how did you come up with the project?
Claus: Thanks first for inviting us to talk about this project and I'll try my best to answer this question. Although it's not really that easy to do so, because as always with a good thought, when you're well in the project for a couple of months, you can't really remember how it all started, but, from our experience at the Lauresham Laboratory for Experimental Archaeology, is that we are collecting vast data sets on our agricultural fields for years now. And we have this specific focus on Early Medieval agriculture, but, from the experiences I have, both from other networks, like ALPHAM (The Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums), like AIMA (International Association of Agricultural Museums) or even EXARC, there's so much skill preserved in so many of living history farms, for example, but also other archaeological open-air museums when it comes to historic farming, that it seemed worth to try to compare all of these different techniques we know of and also by including modern day farming and combine them and also basically make all of these people start to talk to each other. Because this is something, which is an experience I had myself, but also others had in the past and probably will in the future, is that sometimes when you think about adjusting a plow, or thinking when's the right time to do this or that on the field, it always seems like you have to invent the wheel again, but of course this experience is there, but not necessarily all these people working in historic agriculture talk to each other and this seemed like a great opportunity to start a global cooperation project. So maybe this is the core of the idea of why we started it.
Pete: Well, Claus, you know, as one of the participants, I just have to say thank you for conceiving this. It can be a lonely occupation when you're farming. You're sometimes out in the field and if you're lucky, you may have a nice yoke of oxen or horses that you can converse with. But very often you're there with your thoughts, your skills and the environment in which you're producing food. And one of the great rewards is when you're able to speak with other farmers and share your stories of success, of failure, techniques, just the comparisons of the different methods, seeds, time periods during which progress was made with technology that enables us to feed populations with healthier food, is fascinating. And it's certainly the kind of food for thought that every farmer loves. So, thank you Claus for coming up with this. I hope it is not at the expense of your field work and thank you EXARC and Phoebe for including me in this wonderful podcast. Glad to be here.
Claus: One other thing I would want to add in that respect is that when we had a World Congress on Draft Animals in 2021, we realized that to many, well, actual 21st century horse cart farms, but also organic farmers and others in the field of agriculture, they did not really see any sense in looking back in history in order to explore technologies that can be still worth to follow up on in the 21st century. So it was really interesting to see, in this group of several hundred people, being together in that conference, that they saw that looking at historic farming is also a value for modern day farming. And this is maybe another aspect, which makes this project so valuable or, put differently, gives it so much potential.
Pete: Oh, I couldn't agree with you more. That's so, so true. I see visitors here at Hallow Farm every day, and wonder how we can make their experience relevant to their lives. Obviously, we all need the food that farmers produce, but history holds so many important lessons and is so very often ignored as the starting point for any kind of research, present and future.
Phoebe: It really does sound like there's a lot of potential with the project. Do you know how many organizations are currently involved in the project?
Claus: Well, as the things are always in a constant flow and we're fortunate enough to say that every month new organizations, farmers and scientists are joining the team. But, I looked at it and we're about at 20 organizations from four continents now, including both North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. It's not only living history farms, especially in the US, it is also modern day organic farmers, both working with a tractor or with horses or with oxen. It's archaeological open-air museums, it's basically museums, open-air museums and this combined with scientists joining in, being able to bring in new insights on a specific aspect of that field crop we're looking about, this is really the thing that makes me enthusiastic about it.
Phoebe: So it's a real mixture of people and places. And do you think, like as you touched on, it seems very interdisciplinary. You've got scientists, you have farmers, you have farmers from different time periods and locations. What kind of advantages are there and are there any difficulties that you encounter at the moment?
Claus: Well, talking about the advantages first, maybe. Of course we have that aspect of possibilities to exchange knowledge, and we're still in the process of finding out the right channels to make the contributors and the growers, as we call them, combine their efforts, in a way of communicating with each other. The project has two main aims: communicating with the public. This works quite well through social media and the project website and blog. And then we have the communication within the project and this is something we are still working on. We just created a project internal discussion forum. The difficulties we have, of course, are the international focus when it comes to time zones, when it comes to languages and when it comes to actually having time to write something in a forum because you're a farmer. And, like today, I was worried if I could make it because we had a cow that lost her calf, stillborn, this morning, and this is stuff that can happen. And this can make it difficult because farmers are usually busy from sunrise until sundown. How about you, Pete? What do you think are the advantages of it?
Pete: Well, certainly the ones that you discussed, but I'm a wholehearted believer in looking at as many aspects of farming as possible and from different viewpoints. A very eye-opening experience was attending a conference where the entire focus was on ways to educate the younger generation. And they were talking about three, four, five, six and seven year olds, starting them on the path that would make them ultimately better consumers of agricultural products. And this was a government funded conference. We don't often think of that, but in the US only 2% or less of the population is actually farming. Everyone is eating, but people don't necessarily understand what goes into producing the food that they eat. And if you can bring them to an understanding of it, or an interest in it, through something that I would call interdisciplinary..., a recipe for example, or some of the cultural events that are connected with farming, you have a wonderful starting point for discussions, for research. And I've already experienced that just by talking with colleagues in A Year on the Field. Interdisciplinary communications are key to progress everywhere and for all of us, and I think they stand to make us better farmers. Certainly the difficulties you talked about are right there in front of us. Right now, in the temperate zone where we farm, our winter wheat and other grains are dormant. We're not…, we're hosting visitors, we're fixing machinery, we're preparing for farming come spring. But the challenge is always to continue to farm and prepare yourself for the inevitable problems that are going to face us and A Year on the Field is a wonderful channel of communication, some occasional commiseration is welcome and helps us deal with problems as well. But it's a project that has so much potential. And I don't think we've even begun to understand ourselves as participants the many things that we'll take from it.
Claus: I couldn't agree more. I mean, when I look at the project from a scientific point of view, being an experimental archaeologist myself and not a trained farmer by trade, I mean, I'm doing this for more than 10 years now and I have a small farm on the side, yes. But nevertheless, there are people, like you Pete, which have way more experience than I do when it comes to farming and historic farming. And it came to me as..., well, a treasure chest full of knowledge I now have the key to. When I think about real specifics of how something is fixed on the field or the nuances, which make the real difference and, make it realistic. I mean, you can do historic farming, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you do it right and also produces not correct insights in the past, but with this vast possibility of having people to talk to, having different regions of the world where maybe climate conditions are more closer to what I'm looking at 1,200 years ago. And this makes it really interesting. In a way, when you start a research project, you always look at, for example, ethnographic sources, you look for the historic sources and everything, but it's all right there. And it's not that I have to open a book. I just write an email or call another participant of A Year on the Field and I might already get an answer to it.
Pete: The technology is astonishing and just wonderful. Forty years ago, I worked in international agriculture in a project that was showing farmers who already had beef and dairy cattle, how they could use them to increase power for use in field work. They certainly could have used tractors if they wanted to, but in that particular area they were hard to acquire and maintain, they were costly. So using a resource was important. Yet, we and they didn't have the advantage of the kind of communication that's possible, via this podcast, via all the technology that's behind A Year on the Field and the communications. I think of the yoke designs that we used and how much better they would have been if we had been able to access information the way we're accessing it today. Museums are loaded with examples of yokes from all over the world that farmers may be interested in as they're designing and improving the ones that they're using today. We don't necessarily think that farmers today need oxen to farm, but that is certainly the case. I believe the UN FAO says that more than half of the world's food production is accomplished by hand and animal powered, or very small machinery. So that tells us that, in order to feed this world, there are going to be energy sources, hopefully renewable ones, that are gonna come into play.
Phoebe: A question that's kind of related to what you said is, can this project contribute to conversations about global sustainability and in what kind of ways? You have already touched a little bit on it, but I'd be really interested to hear a bit more.
Claus: When you think about the vocabulary of the discussion when it comes to sustainable or regenerative agriculture, you have some stuff like minimal invasive agriculture, as in plowing not that deep furrows, you have the question of how many crops you use in a system, if you have to widen that scope. You have grazing schemes included in farming schemes as you graze fallows to bring in manure, for example. All of that can be seen as something well, really, innovation, but when you look back from an historical point of view, it's all been there and it's not just, this is something which was done by some, no, it had to be done by everybody because this was the only way in a subsistence system, in a circular economy, to actually have a chance for survival. When I look at our research, it shows that there were so many risk minimization strategies when it comes to field systems, when it comes to the selection of field crops, that you not only had three, but maybe ten in a row you would grow on a field. You had a better pest control, you used animals on the field which also provided manure and you could eat them even after they were not able to work anymore. So there's a lot of value in it, basically. And there's a lot of deep roots in agriculture, which are..., you don't have to plant a tree new, you just need to find that old roots and connect it to what you're doing now. So it's always worth to look back to learn something about sustainable agriculture now, and even in future, when you ask me.
Pete: That's a fascinating point. We're asked almost daily by visitors if the farming we do at Howell Living History Farm, which presents and interprets the agriculture and lifestyle of a typical New Jersey farm at the turn of the 20th century. And, you know, as you probably know, that was sort of the end of the era here for oxen and steam. It was a horse powered farming world at the time, but there were gas engines on the horizon, but visitors who are unfamiliar with agriculture -and that's the norm here in the US- wonder and they ask: is this an example of a self-sustaining farm? Is this an organic farm? Is it a regenerative farm? There's an awful lot of interest in food production and what's required to do it, but in our education system we somehow don't learn all of these things. But it is clearly important that we do, so that we understand that, when we decide to buy a product that is organic or that was farmed sustainably, we're making a choice that supports environmental protection and the stewardship of the resource that's critical to all of this food production. We often say at Howell Farm that many of the principles of organic farming can be found in history when we look back. You're opening my eyes every day, Claus and you know, I think, oh, they go back to, in New Jersey maybe the 18th or 17th century. You're going a bit further back and doing research that tells us that there are clues there as to how we can farm sustainably. And that's just a fascinating concept and certainly one that EXARC is going to carry forward and I think make very important as far as the information that's available to us and the kind of research that we want to do.
Claus: The other thing, which I think is key in that respect is that when we think about A Year in the Field as a networking platform and as a possibility of many different organizations to work with each other, especially when it comes to museums, be it historic farms, be it the actual museum or an archaeological open-air museum. This project can help us to create a louder voice, when it comes to visibility of museums in that sustainability discussion we're in right now, because even in the field, in the actual field in countries where basically people are still working with draft animals, for example, if they want to continue with it, might get in trouble when it comes to judgement from official sides, that it is something, well, basically, looking back at something from the past, we don't need that now. And if we can make clear from a museum point of view, that what was back then is still of value for today, we can even maybe help that farmer in a country where he or she is still using that same technology. So I hope that with this project, we will be able to raise our voices and create more impact for museums and historical sites to play their role in all of that sustainability.
Pete: That brings to mind discussions I've had with fellow ALHFAM historic farmers. Its members of more than 200 institutions do all kinds of farming, different time periods and different areas. We talk about the material culture of farming and how we, as curators of it, have responsibility for its care, its interpretation, its future use in research and we also then speak about the skills that go with it. The intangible stuff that makes living history living. And that's a much harder entity to preserve. The skills that go along with using that plow or that seeder or the tools in a kitchen that are used to prepare food or in a mill that are used to process grain are material culture, the tools themselves are, but the skills are not. How do we preserve and pass on those skills and make those skills available to people who would be interested in applying them in new ways. And I think of the example of a young man who came and spent the summer with us, he was from the hills outside of Quito, Ecuador. He had grown up on a farm. His grandfather was the one who used to farm it. His father had gone into dentistry and advised his two sons not to go into farming, that they would be far better off going into a profession like dentistry. Neither one was interested, so the one brother stayed and was helping grandpa with the farming operation and the other came and spent time with us because he wanted to learn how to use oxen. And the question came up, why would you use oxen? You're farming right next to a big city, Quito, you obviously have resources that would let you farm. And he said, oh, well, he said, we farm on very steep slopes. And one of the biggest constraints to raising cattle and particularly dairy cattle is the geography. Tractors just aren't going to work there and we need to use oxen. Grandpa's too old to show us, and there's no one in the community who remembers how to train them. So here, in just one or two generations, the skills, the knowledge that went with something that had been a tradition for probably centuries, was gone. So how do we preserve those skills and ensure that they too are available in the world of research that will make for a more sustainable world. The reason by the way that the two brothers were interested in increasing their milk production was because they had a very lucrative contract with The Hilton Hotel chain. In Quito they were selling organic milk. So we did everything we could to show the young man what we knew about oxen and I'm sure he improved upon it and used it in very different ways and perhaps his grandfather said, well, gee, that's not the way we did it, but, you know, the world of farming is involved with, or based on changes and improvements. And I think as historians, we certainly stand to help with those improvements by doing our duty as curators of both material culture and the skills, the intangible culture that goes with this agriculture, so that it's available for whomever, whenever.
Claus: That's so true and a great story, Pete. It all comes down to, well, value of what you do. And as all of us know, when you look at open-air museums, living history farms and whatever, people have the tendency to smile at you and say, well, yeah, that's funny. You're dressing up and you're playing around in the past, but I can easily and strongly answer: no, I'm doing really something of value here, value for an international community, value for basically modern day agriculture and challenges we have in the 21st century. So, yes, I like to do what I do and it's not playing around in the past. It's learning from the past for the future.
Pete: Claus, I've often wondered about the origin of the name of the historic site- I believe it's a World Heritage Site- where you are the director and you're based. You call it a laboratory, right?
Pete: I've often wondered how your Lauresham has come to be and why it is called a laboratory. Can you tell me about that?
Claus: Well, it's not that easy to answer but I'll try my best to do so. The core unit of it all is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lorsch Abbey, an Early Medieval manorial site, which was destroyed and dissolved in the 16th century, but is still, and today a World Heritage site. Lorsch Abbey had belongings which reach from the coast of the North Sea down to the Swiss Alps and all of this had to be organized in a manorial system. And the thing is that because all of it now is basically gone and a lot of the evidence, written evidence, is gone, when you think about explaining everyday life, crafts of back then and agriculture, usually you have to go into a model in the museum or have posters of Early Medieval sources. And so we had the idea why not, if we ever have enough money to do so, create a scale one-to-one model of an Early Medieval manorial site, which could showcase and research both manorialism of back then and also agriculture and crafts. In the crisis of 2008-09, when the investment bubble exploded and everything, there was an investment program from the German government for a UNESCO World Heritage Site to apply for, to strengthen the accessibility or the visit experience. And we applied and the biggest project of it was to actually do what we were talking about years before: create that one-to-one model. And that is what we did and now we're that experimental archaeological site on one hand and also an open-air museum, trying to reconnect our visitors to that early history of the manorial site.
Pete: Thanks for explaining that. Now I have another question. In one of our discussions you were talking about some of the archaeological work and the evidence regarding, I think you called it ridge plowing... ridge and furrows, yeah. That's something unfamiliar to turn of the 20th century New Jersey historical farmers. But it is an example of archaeological evidence that seems to hold a value for sustainable farming methods. Can you tell me again what you see in ridge and furrow plowing that is so important to us as interpreters of sustainable agriculture?
Claus: An interesting aspect and connection to A Year in the Field is that we use, on our wheat fields in the open-air laboratory, that ridge and furrow system. And we have the great opportunity to do all that scientific monitoring of what we're doing and now have a great insight about the resilience in agriculture back then, because creating of a system of ridges and furrows next to each other creates a microcosm of its own. So when you think about the furrows in between ridges and you have, when it comes to a really dry year, still a zone in your field which keeps more moisture, but also, it's more humid and keeps more water in the ground. So in the years 2018, 2019 and 2020 with the drought, we had double the yield in these furrows than on the ridges. And when we look on the last year, where it was really wet, we have the complete different result. We had more yield on the ridges and less on the furrows because it was too wet there. So we have a system of risk minimization going back more than 1,200 years, which gives us a possibility when we think of it clearly, to have something to react on climate change, to at least take this idea of farming seriously, seeing also the disadvantages of the system as it is quite... well, it's a lot of work to create these ridge and furrow systems, especially when you think about a team of oxen, which has to do it. But nevertheless, I learned a lot about possibilities to react on weather extremes. And this is basically something which shows that the people back then, they weren't in that primitive, simple world of the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages as sometimes it's called. They were as smart as we are, maybe even smarter, and knew exactly what they were able to do within their framework of technology to get the best out of it. Of course there will always be good and bad farmers, skilled and unskilled, or more fortunate and unfortunate ones. But we see, looking back, that there's a lot of potential and this is why I find this so fascinating, this ridge and furrow system.
Pete: Well, I sure find it fascinating! What a great and thought provoking example of the riches that history holds for us and not just the ones that are above ground or in our museums. When you started A Year on the Field, you chose wheat as the first crop that we would share information about. Was there a reason for that?
Claus: Yeah, actually, there was a reason for it. I was sitting and thinking what would be the best choice to get as many partners, both from an historic perspective, but also from a global perspective, to join the project. And when you think about wheat, of course there are regions in this world, especially traditional farming schemes in Asia, that don't really grow wheat, but, looking at what we've come up with right now, having four continents on board, underlines the decision to choose a field crop which is really widely cultivated throughout the world. Not because, it is..., well, put on a throne and said this, among rice and maybe corn, is one of the most important field crops in the world, this is why we have to push research on it and everything. No, also historically, it is just something which was important in historic agriculture for centuries. And it gives us the possibility to start, not a really specific field crop where we only maybe would find some broader insight in the history of the cultivation, but basically now we can say, okay, we can start in the Neolithic and go to the 21st century. If you take tobacco, for example, as an interesting thing to cultivate and to research in a historic way too, but then again, from a historic point of view you're limited a lot because, as we all know, this wasn't something which usually was cultivated in Europe before the colonial era and the slow globalization of food production and also of specific crops like tobacco.
Pete: This is perhaps an unfair question, but, as I was talking with my wife about today's podcast yesterday she said, oh, well, it seems like a perfect choice. What is he going to choose for next year? Now, I don't want to get out the cart ahead of the horse, but, you know, you'll have decisions to make each year and are you planning to rely on the participants and the agricultural community to do that? Or is this driven by some research plans and strategies that you can share with us?
Claus: Well, I'd say we wait a little longer to actually do the decision. We would need to start looking for possible growers not that late this year, but I think we still have a couple of months to go before we really do the decision. And I of course would want a field crop which is, like wheat, well distributed around the world in order to get more participants on board. But on the other hand, maybe we need to choose something more exotic to sharpen the scope a bit to get even more, or squeeze even more information about something that is not as broadly distributed as wheat, so still wide open!
Pete: I was thinking of Phoebe's question too about sustainability... making this project visible is critical, I think, to its future and to the degree of success, but the question comes to my mind, in choosing the next crop, given the importance of questions about sustainability, will you be thinking about crops that call that question and bring it to the table more so than other crops? Is rice for example, or is corn for example, or is tobacco, for example, more detrimental to the environment? Do we study it? Does it hold more potential for us to discover new and better ways to cultivate the soil or to use ridge and furrow plowing? I think it's a fascinating challenge to make a decision like that. And I would expect that all of your participants in this first year will be very, very interested in the process that may involve them in another year of this. And there are many more farmers out there who are waiting for opportunities to share their knowledge about other crops and ecosystems and farming systems with you and EXARC.
Claus: I think what you said with the connection to sustainability is really key and it should be for the selection of the next field crop. What we have to keep in mind with this whole project is that, when you change the perspective a bit, it doesn't really matter to some extent what field crop we choose. The database of skills and sources we produce when it comes to soil preparation and when it comes to some, well, sowing techniques or harvesting techniques, they can be the same, no matter what the field crop is. Of course there will always be specifics, but the thing is that we're able to, or will be able to create that vast database, which can be searchable for everybody. I imagine this to be something where a person can type in some day: 'plowing', '17th century' and then 'oats' and will find valuable information about that. Although it will be not easy to choose the right crop, it will always, to some extent, be the right crop because it'll add onto the database. And some years we will have more and some years we will have less additional participants, but, I always think that this will be a growing community.
Pete: Well, I love the play on words there, that a growing community is key to our future!
Claus: Oh, that's true. I haven't even thought of that, well, yeah, that was planned of course!
Pete: I thought so!
Phoebe: You touched, Claus, a bit about you're building a kind of database of all of your results and information for people to be able to access. Do you have any results that people could access now and in the future where are you planning to have this database accessible?
Claus: The main resource right now is the website and the blog and we use texts for different aspects. Let's take soil preparation at Barrington Plantation, that's a blog post we just put online. So I would put in tags like we have 'Texas' as a state in the US as a tag, we have 'wheat', we have that specific plow, 'horse plow', we have 'horse farming' and all these different keywords, which can be searched through the website. So it's not a classical database, a search engine, but already a well searchable website due through all the texts. And of course we will have to think about possible ways to actually publish the results of all the work, because of course, it's more data we produce than we put on the website for now. But I think that's still a little bit music for the future, because it is already quite a challenge to actually get all the data together and not every grower is possible to invest as much time as maybe the other one can. Sometimes you have to be really pokey to actually get the person to give you the information. Not because the person doesn't want to give it to you, but it's just too busy and it'll take some while to work it all up, but I'm sure we will be able to also publish something on it. And we'll also create a set of skill clips as part of the project, already started to do so, so that we will create research also searchable on other channels like YouTube, but also maybe on the website, so that you can also, well, as the project goes along, learn something about the cultivation and processing of field crops around the world.
Pete: You mentioned skill clips. We're very interested in the potential of using video technology and documenting, especially the skills that we preserve, just because the motion is so instructive.Can you tell me what skill clip you're working on right now? You mentioned one.
Claus: Generally, we're still trying to stick with what we're also publishing right now, with the preparation of the soil. We already have a lot of footage which was basically connected with the submission of the data we got from the growers. But what are we trying to do now, or just started off with, is that we combine the video footage also with the historic knowledge, but also with good images of the plow, for example. Try something new in the way of combining the video image itself with the historical data and additional photographs, for example. So it's all about soil cultivation with different plows and to some extent also on preparation of soil when it comes to harrowing, for example. The challenge still is that the amount of footage that we get is not as big as we wanted it to be. It's no judgement at all to all the growers but, when I asked for a picture of the plow people were using to plow the fields [it took] months almost to get the images or if I even got one, when it comes to some examples. I think if we take our time and put everything together, there's a lot of potential to create really, really detailed skill clips to preserve really petite details of a plow or a harrow and as we are going along the way through the cultivation cycle, harvesting, sowing and everything. It's still a learning curve, I think. And I also think we need to learn to ask the right questions in the right way and mobilize people to actually just take the camera and... don't judge the quality of filming, before you do it. So just motivate them to do it anyway and we'll sure have a valuable source of information on skill afterwards. And let us do the editing, for example. This is something you know very well as we're both in the skill training and preservation committee within ALHFAM we're trying to cope with that issue for a long time. You basically were the one who invented this idea of skill clips and we're trying to adjust and transport this idea to the A Year in the Field project. And we're really fortunate that ALHFAM decided to fund an intern who now is a colleague and already started this work, Anne-Lena, who will do specific skill clips for A Year on the Field.
Phoebe: They sound like they're going to be super helpful and really interesting. I've already been looking at some of the blogs on the website and they're really interesting blog posts and I like how they're written as well. So just as a final question before we finish up: what are the plans for the future for the project and yourselves and how can the EXARC community help to make a difference in regards to all of the things that we've discussed today?
Claus: It's not really clear what the future will bring to this project. So coming back to the terminology of farming I think we have sown a quite well variety of field crop there and we already see germinating everywhere and we see rising interest in this project. And as we go along the way we should try to activate as many resources as possible. So one way EXARC members can contribute is that when we think about a specific aspect of cultivation of the land, like the plow, why not look at what you have in your museum or what you have for experiences when it comes to testing of tillage implements that could be another valuable resource we could collect for A Year on the Field. So it's not just about growing and growers and actually being a farmer. It's also the museum professional, which has that specific yoke in his collection which could be of value for the whole discussion of harnessing for that Year on the Field project. So every single step of the cultivation and processing cycle of that field crop should be and could be interesting for EXARC members. We're only waiting for them to join in and add new information. Despite the focus on historical farming or farming in general, this could be an example of how deep networking across borders and country lines could work, because this is the true potential of it. So many great resources, so many professionals, practitioners, scientists, but they usually don't talk to each other or even sometimes don't understand each other. So when you are talking about the term farmer, that doesn't necessarily mean archaeologists understanding the same, in a sense of definition, than the historian does. And so it's working together, reaching a common goal that is the true potential.
Pete: That makes perfect sense to me. You know, I love the sort of organic nature of the project, that it will grow in directions that will become evident as different growers and resource, people and partners, begin to contribute.
Phoebe: So thank you both for joining us today and for sharing your experiences with the project and your expertise. I've been really enjoying listening. Thank you to everyone else for listening to this episode of #FinallyFriday by EXARC. If you would like to become more involved with EXARC, why not become a member? Alternatively, you can make a small PayPal donation through the website to help support EXARC in its endeavours.
Outro by Matilda: Join us next month for another episode of #FinallyFriday and learn more all about the world of experimental archaeology, ancient technology, archaeological open-air museums and interpretation. Don’t forget to follow the show through exarc.net and our associated social media channels.