A study carried out by Defra back in 2013 showed that in 2010 the average age of farmers in the UK was 59, unchanged from 2007.
The industry faces many challenges and it’s struggling to recruit younger workers, but my personal journey shows that if you’re passionate and resourceful, farming can be a dream job with the power to change the future.
I come from a farming family. My grandfather and father were both farmers and I always had a particular idea of the type of farming I wanted to get into.
After completing my Agricultural Engineering degree, I was inspired by the book “You Can Farm,” by Joel Salatin, a farmer in Virginia who uses “holistic management” and claims to be “beyond organic”.
This was back in 2010 when I began my journey into farming and had 22 acres of permanent pasture – the remainder of the family farm following the sale of my father’s milking herd.
I knew that I wanted to be environmentally responsible – even giving more back to the land that I farmed, and with this in mind I set about looking into the possibilities of regenerative agriculture and 100% grass-fed.
It wasn’t until 2014 that I secured the tenancy of a 125-acre Somerset County Council farm, whereby I could grow the business and do what I had always strived to.
The Government does provide incentives for young farmers, but you certainly don’t choose this way of life for the money!
As most farmers get into farming through their family connections, there aren’t many non-farmers who move into this line of work.
For me, farming was about making a difference. There are battles every day, but creating a better environment and showing there are other methods that challenge industrialised farming is what keeps me motivated. I see how people respond to the 100% grass-fed way of farming, and I know that this regenerative method is a model for the future.
We hope to have the farm shop here at Farm2Fork in the not-too-distant future, and that is just one way of diversifying from traditional farming, along with our unique methods of grazing and our innovative chicken “tractors”, we are keen to challenge the “norm”.
We welcome other young people as well, in the form of Wwoofers and volunteers keen to learn about our ways here at Farm2Fork.
It can be exciting and varied, and you need to have your business head on, but hopefully with the right encouragement and the knowledge that young farmers can drive real change, we’ll see an increase in young people taking on exciting roles within agriculture.