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

Welcome to the Living Field web site

Latest ….. the Bere barley landrace at the Living Field for #SeedWeek 2021 ...New pages on Climate and sustainable food production …. Celebrate the year’s turning Through the Solstice …. News from Common Grains and Seed Sovereignty projects on upcoming events in cluding the 2021 Seed Week …. No new planting or ground care in 2020 ….. Food systems are adapting to the pandemic…so far ….More online learning at the News page  ….. Hutton wildflower seeds 2020 ….. Grannie Kate’s Spicy two pulse patties ….. at the News page, update on LEAF Online Farm Sunday and Farming Fortnight, and resources for home-education in crops, soil, environment, farming, archaeology and baking  ….. Agrostographia – lessons from the 1800s for re-diversification todayFrom a muddy field – Gladys Wright’s contributions to the Living Field….. Chickpea gram flour flatbreads ….. Edible campus? Visit from Transition St Andrews …..Five spheres: City Uni food chain diagram ….. Key pattern in natural fibre from Ruth Black ….Nourish Conference 2019 – lessons for the Living Field ….. Tina Scopa’s Makdome exhibition on plant formLiving Field to M15 (latest from the astronomers) ….. 

Magnificent beech tree at Dron, view towards Dunsinnen Hill, late afternoon on the 12th day after the solstice (Living Field)

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).

Autumn-sown crops of wheat, oat and barley suffer repeated wetting-freezing cycles through the winter. The young plants lose leaf in the process, but in most years enough survives for the crop to take advantage of the rising temperature and sunlight in late March.
Regular content
  • New images, articles and opinion pieces are posted frequently under Notes and Images, the most recent listed in the left hand margin.
  • 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.
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.
  • Global field presents an occasional series of articles through  Urban-field and Water-field, for example: Inle Lake Burma, Dundee’s waterfront, winter floods in the croplands and the hills around the Parthenon.
A sea mist or haar rolled down the Tay and covered parts of the Carse of Gowrie with an icy cold, the afternoon 19 January 2012. Foreground green is a winter cereal., hills just visible over the harr are in Fife.


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.

Two trees that have grown into each other on the Institute’s farm on the Carse of Gowrie, photographed in 2010, in the period of Nautical Twilight after sunset, hardly visible to the eye, but revealed by ‘brightening’ the image.

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. The current images were taken in December and January around the winter solstice.

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

Living Field Images (top of right hand column): current image is one of Slovenian artist Vida Fakin’s painting of hay racks in the landscape. Clicking the image leads to Vida’s page on this site. 

The heavy and persistent rain towards the later part of 2012 saturated soil and led to extensive flooding of agricultural land. This is land in Strathmore by the River Isla just before sunset on the last day of the year.

sustainable croplands