DID you, like me, devour Enid Blyton books as a child?

Did you, as a result, grow up with an idealised image of life on a farm, like lovely Aunt Linnie’s in the Six Cousins stories?

A farm with a bit of everything, like those toy ones with the little plastic model animals we used to play with? Cows, sheep, pigs, geese, turkeys, hens, horses, trees laden with rosy red apples?

A farm that couldn’t be further removed from today’s agro-industrial landscape with its hedgeless prairie fields, its oil seed rape crops sprayed several times a year with chemicals that do goodness-knows-what to our environment and our own health?

You think that’s all very well, but no-one could make an old-fashioned living like that these days? Well, here’s a thing.

Tom Mettyear and Mark Sparrow, the guys who brought Neal’s Yard to Salisbury and their award-winning Angel Cottage chicken to our farmers’ market, are doing just that, down at Haddon Copse Farm in the Blackmore Vale.

A visit at the weekend for one of their pop-up dining evenings gave us a fantastic five-course feast and a lot of food for thought into the bargain. A pre-dinner stroll round the fields they’ve rescued from overgrown scrubland showed what can be achieved in just six years with a combination of vision and hard work.

Everything we ate was either their own organic produce, or locally sourced – where possible, from other organic producers.

And yes, they really do manage to fit all the things I listed above on their 30 or so acres, along with a wildlife pond, bell tents for glamping, and a cabin-style home.

Of course, not everybody can afford organic food, but that doesn’t make drenching crops with insecticides or raising animals in factory conditions good for us or for nature.

John Glen wrote recently about an “eye-opening” tour of an organic farm in Cholderton, and his hope that we can find “sensible ways to reset our relationship with the natural environment...beginning with coming to terms with the massive implications of our addiction to cheap food.”

We have to trust that his colleague Michael Gove’s warm words about environmental protection amount to more than just words, given the pressures Brexit is likely to put on our farmers.

But on this I agree with our MP. It’s inspiring to see what can be done.

Phone sense

NOT before time, a head has stood up to the tyranny of the mobile phone (see news story, page 9).

Teachers tell how exchanges of text messages can lead to outbreaks of appalling behaviour, disrupting whole classes.

Where there’s an urgent need, parents and children can contact each other via their school’s receptionist.

Banning phones won’t stop the bullying, the inappropriate sexting that can so damage young people’s lives.

Those things will continue outside lesson time, human nature being what it is.

But it will help staff get on with on teaching, instead of policing.

A great example from Trafalgar’s Stewart Roderick.