From Floodplain Farm to Feet

We found a new way to wear a floodplain meadow recently at the inaugural Farm Sneaker workshop with Andrew Rumming at his family farm in Wiltshire. 

This was a team day out and we gathered on a lovely September morning in an open barn to learn how to make our own shoes from Andy's 100% pasture-fed, vegetable-tanned leather. The cattle are grazed on species-rich meadows and fed on hay cut on Cricklade North Meadow – a fabulous floodplain meadow, famous for its annual display of snake’s-head fritillaries each spring. After a warm welcome with tea and biscuits, we heard from Andy about the characteristics of different parts of the hide and how it was treated and prepared. 

The part of the hide we used was from the neck of the animal, which is stiff enough for hard-wearing footwear, but still retains some stretch for comfort. Whilst commercial footwear usually has the surface removed to take away any imperfections and then re-textured with a skin-like appearance, this natural leather retains the signs of a real animal that lived a healthy outdoor life. And it had been tanned the slow way, using tannin-rich tree bark rather than chemicals that create problematic effluent that can be damaging to the environment, often in parts of the world with lower environmental standards than the UK.

Andy and pasture for Life (PfL) have been working with the fashion industry to explore how to reconnect sustainable, short-supply-chain leather with consumer demand for ethical products. Much is made of promoting ethically sourced meat – but where there is meat, there are hides. Read more about this project on Andy’s blog

We had already chosen our own colour combinations for the leather and laces so we got to work cutting, punching and sewing our very own pair of unique handmade shoes using comfy rubber soles from SneakerKit. Andy also had a selection of bespoke stamps so we could emboss our new kicks with fritillaries and cows. These have to be the most environmentally friendly, short-supply-chain shoes it’s possible to stroll around in. And a lovely way to spend a day, connecting with Andy and the team in the fresh Wiltshire air.
An excellent new strand in Andy’s farm diversification, there is nothing ultra-processed about these shoes - from Floodplain to Feet!

Left: Fritillaries in flower at Cricklade North Meadow. Middle: Shoemaking in progress at the farm. Right: From floodplain farm to feet - finished!