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

Welcome to the Living Field web site

Latest …. online ‘Conversation’ on carbon tax for land usage organised by the newly formed SEDA Land, check the News page …. Jean Duncan’s In the Kingdom of Roots video of art exhibition at Josef Stefan Inst Slovenia ….. Medicinals through the Ages 1 ….. DIARY21 for events in climate, land and food, local and global …..the revitalised Hospitalfield garden Arbroath  ….. a growing community in Strathnairn – Fearnag Growers …… additions to the Bee plants page: borage and teasel …. 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 ….. …the Bere barley landrace at the Living Field for #SeedWeek 2021  …. 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 ….. Food systems are adapting to the pandemic…so far …. Agrostographia – lessons from the 1800s for re-diversification todayFrom a muddy field – Gladys Wright’s contributions to the 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).

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.
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.
In some areas of the Highlands, land that had been under ‘rough grazing’ for many years has been vacated, leaving a large store of organic carbon and the vegetation to regenerate into a mix of grasses, whin, juniper and hardwood saplings. It’s facing an uncertain future – the worst outcome would be destructive sitka planting and the land-scouring that precedes it.


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.

One of the plants grown for many past years in the Living Field garden, this dyer’s chamomile is a short lived perennial of the composite family.

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 show some of the plants flowering or seeding around the autumn equinox in September, when leaves are turning and most grains matured.

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

Sunset at Broken Creek in Victoria Australia, taken 8 am UK time, by our correspondent gk-images.

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