Yalding village uses the three field system. An autumn crop of rye or wheat is sown in the first field. In the second field, a spring crop of barley, oats or peas is sown. The third field is left fallow for the animals to graze on and to help it regain its fertility. Every year, the field that grows the autumn and spring crops and the one that is left fallow, is changed.
The people of Yalding grow their crops in strips. Each family had a number of these strips in each field. They are scattered about so that no one gets all the good land or all the bad land. This is very important in Yalding as the land closest to the River Beult tends to flood after heavy rain.
The people of Yalding grow five main crops: wheat, rye, barley, oats and peas
Wheat: Wheat flour makes the finest, whitest bread but only grows on soil which has been well-manured.
Rye: Rye flour produces a very dark, heavy bread.
Barley: Barley is fairly easy to grow and is used to make bread and ale.
Oats: Oats are used for porridge and animal food.
Peas: Peas are particularly suited to the soil in Yalding. Peas are grown to feed both humans and animals.
People in Yalding also grow meadow grass. When dried, meadow grass becomes hay, and is used to feed the animals during the winter. Yalding also has several patches of land that are not used for growing crops. These lands are called the commons. The lord of the manor, Hugh de Audley allows the people of Yalding to let their animals graze on the commons. They are also free to pick wild fruits and collect wood from this land.
2. (a) Study the crops that John Giffard and Alice Taylor grow. What type of bread do you think these families eat? (b) Now study the crops that you grow. What type of bread does your family mainly eat?
3. Most people in the 14th century preferred eating bread made from wheat flour. However, many people made bread from barley or rye flour. Can you explain why?