” …. now they’re digging ancient summers, bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the fiery sheaves (Tams).”

Welcome to the Living Field web site

Latest ….. Ancient and modern – techniques with wool in textile art by Ruth Black …. Winter solstice revisited …. Gool rider Gool rider! will this weed-seeking tradition return? …. Society for Ecological Restoration’s call for action, check the News page …. SEDA Land Conversations – background and future ….. DIARY21 for events in climate, land and food, local and global ….Jean Duncan’s In the Kingdom of Roots video of art exhibition at Josef Stefan Inst Slovenia ….. Medicinals through the Ages 1 . …..the revitalised Hospitalfield garden Arbroath  ….. a growing community in Strathnairn – Fearnag Growers ….. Pictish knotwork drawn by K Owen …latest articles in the Climate and Sustainable Food series on the Long Cool Summer effect and the Water Cycle …..  Repurposing grass pea for embroidered textiles and hand-made paper …. Agrostographialessons from the 1800s for re-diversification today …. From a muddy field – Gladys Wright’s contributions to the Living Field …

Under a cloudless sky, four days before the solstice, the water of Loch Gamhna, with its reeds and surrounding ancient pine, reflects the hills above (www.curvedflatlands.co.uk)

The Living Field is run by staff at the James Hutton Institute, Dundee, UK. We work through outreach, education and shared experience to promote sustainable production of food and other products from the land.

The web site opened in spring 2014 to celebrate 10 years of the Living Field Garden. We hope you enjoy visiting the site. You will find news and updates of all current activities (Regular Content) and reports of long-running themes and collaborations (Projects and people, below).

Haar, a sea-mist, frequently extends several miles inland at this time of year. Even if the ground is soft, water sometimes freezes on the trees and crops, as here on a winter cereal field.
Regular content
  • New images, articles and opinion pieces are posted frequently under Notes and Images, the most recent listed in the left hand margin.
  • DIARY21 lists this year’s news and events, local and global, in climate, land, ecology and food.
  • Climate is a new series of articles, beginning and ending 2021, covering climate and production, past events and trends, current status and action for the future.
  • The News page links to what’s going on in the Living Field project, updates to the web site and matters topical.
  • The Garden relates the evolving habitats and and living plant exhibits in this centrepiece of the project, created in a corner of the Institute’s farm in 2004.
  • The Year records the seasonal cycle in the croplands through the quarter days and cross quarter days.
  • Our About page gives more on the history, aims and funding of the Living Field.
The autumn and winter of 2012 gave some of the highest rainfall and severe flooding of the past few decades. Crops failed, harvest ruined, yield depressed; some winter crops were resown in spring 2013. Here’s farmland around the Isla on the last evening of the year (www.curvedflatlands.co.uk).
Projects and People
  • 5000 years is a long term project on the innovations that have sustained life in the maritime croplands and more widely since the neolithic. We begin with 5000-Plants – fibres, dyes, weeds, and coming soon  – cereals and legumes.
  • People profiles collaborations with the Living Field in art and science, including Jean Duncan (archaeology, food, Capsella), Tina Scopa (plant pressing workshops) and the family of Slovenian artist Vida Fakin.
Dave Roberts crafted this sculpture in wood of a dragonfly. It was sited in the middle of the small meadow in the Living Field Garden, near Dundee. Here it was, a few minutes before sunset at the winter solstice, 21 December 2017.


The Living Field exists through the efforts of many people. It was until recently managed by Gladys Wright and Geoff Squire.  For more information on its origin, aims and charitable funding, please see the About page.

Gladys wright, who had been involved since the beginning of the Living Field in 2001, retired from the James Hutton at the end of 2019.  We hope she will continue to be part of the Living Field community.

For now, all enquiries on the Living Field project, garden, CD, study centre, web site, The Year, the 5000 Years project, contact: Geoff Squire at geoff.squire@hutton.ac.uk or geoff.squire@outlook.com.

The plants at the Living Field garden near Dundee are left after flowering and fruiting as food and shelter for the many insects, birds and small mammals that live here. Among the herbs, composites, such as thistles and knapweed, and the umbel-bearers (as in the photograph) keep their seeds well into the new year,

All images on this site are taken and prepared by the Living Field team unless stated otherwise. Please respect our ownership of these images . The Living Field is funded by charities and is not profit-making.

Photographs on this Welcome page change with the turning of the year. Those above were taken at and around the winter solstice, 21 December.

Quote at the top of the page is from John Tams’ song ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’.

Sunrise in the days before the winter solstice is before 09:00 here, but the woods and lakes of Rothiemurchus do not get their first direct light until after 10:30.

Living Field images (top right): drawn or painted by members of the Living Field community. Today’s is one of Jean Duncan’s etchings of root cross sections. Jean has worked with the Living Field for many years, organising workshops and study visits and showing how to make paper from natural materials.

sustainable croplands