Ancient tradition to bless new farming year at Ripon Cathedral amid a challenging climate

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A service is to be held at Ripon Cathedral in celebration of farm businesses and the farming families, the “crucial stewards” of Yorkshire's farm-producing landscapes.

All are welcome at the service which will take place on Sunday January 14, at 3.30pm, and is supported by Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

The service begins the year which brings fresh opportunities and challenges for British agriculture, during a tradition that has been experiencing a renaissance in recent years.

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For many farmers, 2024 means looking for the best ways to adapt to new government policies, and adopting increasingly innovative approaches to farmland management, and food production.

Ancient tradition to bless new farming year at Ripon Cathedral amid a changing and challenging landscape.Ancient tradition to bless new farming year at Ripon Cathedral amid a changing and challenging landscape.
Ancient tradition to bless new farming year at Ripon Cathedral amid a changing and challenging landscape.

It may also mean pursuing ways to secure their futures by diversifying what they farm and adding value through new ventures.

Farmers set out to do so during a period of uncertainty ahead, with a general election to come and unpredictable weather patterns amid the changing climate.

Allister Nixon, Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, said: “As crucial stewards of the nation’s precious food-producing landscapes, farming families will continue to have the support of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society whatever the year ahead brings.

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“So, in time-honoured tradition, we partner with Ripon Cathedral for its Plough Sunday Service where blessings will be offered to those who farm the land.

"We wish our farmers and their families a productive and fulfilling 2024.”

As well as organising the 165th Great Yorkshire Show, which this year runs from Tuesday July 9 to Friday July 12, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society will offer events, training, bursaries and grants to support agriculture in the North of England throughout the year.

Until January 8, the society is inviting applications for its new Goodall Agri-Development Pathway, a fully funded training programme to support the development of farming’s next generation.

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Plough Sunday is an ancient festival which was revived by the Victorians.

Traditionally it is celebrated on the first Sunday after Epiphany.

In the Medieval period, when there was only one plough in each village, the village plough was brought into church for a blessing before ploughing began on Plough Monday, the first working day after the 12 days of Christmas.

In days when work was scarce in winter, the observance looked forward to the time of sowing with the promise of a harvest to come.

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The Dean of Ripon, The Very Rev John Dobson, who will lead the service, said: “We at Ripon Cathedral always rejoice in organising this service in partnership with the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

“It is a highlight of the early months of the year, a great opportunity to celebrate the contribution made to the common good by those who farm and work in food production industries, as well as many within rural communities.

“We pray for God’s blessing on their efforts, as well as on our attempts to care for the environment.”

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A reading will be given by Future Farmers of Yorkshire, a thriving network of farmers, vets and industry professionals supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

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To mark the occasion, a tractor will be positioned outside the cathedral, courtesy of Ripon Farm Services and the Highside Longsword Dancers will be performing.

Anyone wishing to attend the Plough Service is invited to gather from 2.30pm for hot pork rolls and drinks, before the service begins at 3.30pm.