The Lord Mayor’s Show is a huge event held in London, but it is no ‘new kid on the block’, this procession has been held every year for over 800 years and for some reason the NFU have asked me along for 2018! It’s not just me, there are seven other great young farmers, each representing a different region of the UK and on Saturday the 10th of November, we will all be marching together through London next to a MASSIVE tractor (a Massey Ferguson, aka my daily drive, no less!). And I am bloomin’ proud to have been chosen!
British farming really needs our support and if it takes me and a handful of others closing a few roads and stomping around London with a tractor to remind people to do so, then so be it! I would love the image of the tractor, and us British farmers beside it, to remind people to look for the ‘produced in the UK’ label on their food and perhaps even inspire the public to think about buying direct from farmers at their gate, at farmer’s markets or in local shops.
Not only do I want to spread the message to the public about backing British Farming and supporting our great industry, but I also have a few other messages that I want to get across…
Firstly, just look at the diversity of people working in farming. There are huge variances in the different backgrounds, cultures and ages of those employed in British agriculture. All too often, the stereotypical image of a middle-aged, slightly balding, tweed cap wearing, male farmer pops into people’s heads but I am here to prove that you can grow up in a commuter town, train to be a teacher, work in an office, be a GIRL and be under 30 and still want to farm! There are so many women, so many young people, so many first-generation farmers in British agriculture and so many reasons to be proud of our sector and its increasing diversity!
This nicely leads on to my next point, which is that there are a huge amount of jobs within agriculture. I spend most of my time doing what the general public would probably consider to be a typical farmer’s job – driving a tractor, feeding animals etc. but I also have to have a wide range of skills to work on my boss’s beef cattle farm and run my own smallholding. For instance, I have to know how to promote products, buy and sell, complete paperwork, develop websites, general accounting, administer medicines.. the list goes on! Not only does each individual have to possess a wide range of skills in your traditional farm role, there are also a huge amount of people in the British agricultural industry who have less traditional roles, yet are just as vital i.e. social media managers, butchers, estate managers, machinery engineers, farm secretaries etc.
I also want to remind people, and I think the NFU have done a great job of this already by choosing farmers from every corner of Britain, that farming is present across the whole of the UK. I remember once someone being startled at my Southern accent (alright, Essex accent) when I stated I was a farmer in the South East! Shock horror, it happens! Believe it or not, there are farms within London too! British agriculture is such a huge employer nationwide, just because most folk imagine hill farming in Wales or crofting in Scotland, it doesn’t mean I’m not turning grass into beef on the side of the M20 (don’t worry there is a barrier…).
Another reason I want farming to be seen by the greater public, is for people to realise that farming is a real career choice. When I was growing up, farming was never shown as a career option and you only went into farming if you grew up on a farm. This should not be the message we are promoting to young ones! Farming is a real career choice, it is a path you can choose to go down and it should be respected by educational institutions and friends/family alike. I have never been happier at work than when I entered farming; my office is the Garden of England and my colleagues are a herd of cows and a collie – what more could a girl want? Let’s get schools, colleges and universities respecting farming career paths (Adam Henson, how’s that agriculture GCSE coming along?)
So yes, I will be waving the flag for British farming come the 10th of November, but I will also be waving several other mini flags (subject to hand space) for young farmers, Southern farmers, first generation farmers, those that work in agriculture but don’t wear wellies, women farmers and farmers that went ‘Sod this for a game of soldiers, I’m becoming a farmer’!
Hope to see you there, or if it is too much of a trek (for all the farmers outside of the M25 haha!) check out BBC one at 10:45 on Saturday the 10th of November. Look for the tractor!