Restoring and managing Kirkharle: a perpective from owner John Anderson
I would like to remind you that Kirkharle is but a piece in a much larger jigsaw; its importance lies not just in the tangible way it marks Brown’s life, but also by virtue of it acting as an interface between the rural economy and the wider general public. Unfortunately over the years, farmers have increasingly become disengaged from their ultimate customer, the consumer. As such the effort and care that goes into producing high quality food hasn’t been adequately appreciated; neither has it been reflected in the price at the farm gate. With a much keener interest in cooking and the quality of ingredients, together with a growing concern as to the security of food security, this lack of perception is starting to change. Equally farmers and landowners have not been good at encouraging people to enjoy the countryside, almost viewing land as their total private preserve; yet we depend on customers buying our food, as well as being willing to subsidise its production. We need to realise that by way of return, we must be perceived as looking after our precious landscape, as well as the living creatures and plants that go to make it so interesting and enjoyable; and above all, people need to feel welcomed.
Kirkharle will never represent one of Brown’s greatest works; its modesty rather pertinently reflects that we are in an age of austerity. However its creation is a statement of hope for the future; with free public access the intention is that people of all ages and abilities can visit and witness its development over the years; in so doing, we hope very much they will enjoy the experience. It is what Lancelot Capability Brown would have wanted with his vision all those years ago.