Life on the farm is a full time job, but unfortunately there’s not always enough income (especially on small family farms) to support a full time wage, let alone a whole family. To help boost their income and add an extra bit of financial security to help the farm through the leaner times far, a lot of farmers are now beginning to diversify their business. Some invest in renewable energy or add value to their current product (For example, turning their milk into cheese or ice creams to sell directly to the public), while others make their farm a tourist destination by opening camp sites or farm parks.
One Welsh Hill Farmer has decided the best way to diversify was to carve out a successful career as a television personality.
For those of you who don’t know, Gareth Wyn Jones first appeared in the public eye during the devastating snow storms of 2013. His tweets, showing the devastation and the ongoing fight to save his livestock, attracted widespread media attention and threw Gareth into the limelight. A best selling book and hugely popular BBC documentary series on his life on the Carneddau soon followed.
Now Gareth has embarked on a new mission, exploring the food industry and attempting to change the way we use local produce, in his new series The Farmer and the Food Chain.
The first episode aired last night on BBC One Wales (Thankfully, we can get BBC Wales here through the wonders of Freesat but for those who missed it you can catch it on BBC iPlayer HERE) and saw Gareth meet local producers before opening a pop up shop in Bangor to supply fresh produce direct to the general public.
The show was really interesting and well worth a watch, but I couldn’t help get infuriated by the way the wonderful, fresh local produce is treated. During the show, Gareth went fishing off the Lleyn coastline, catching wonderful fresh crabs and lobsters. As someone who loves seafood (especially crab!) it blows my mind that the vast majority of that catch would be shipped straight to the Continent!
Buying local, fresh British produce is not only vital to the continuation of British farming but can also provide a major boost to the local economy. Fishmongers, Greengrocers and Butchers are rapidly disappearing from the British high street, thanks to the domination of the supermarkets, but by simply sourcing some of your weekly shop from these passionate local businesses go a long way. I’m sure you’d struggle to match it for quality and value for money too!
One of the biggest problems today in this industry is education. People simply do not understand where their food comes from and the hard work, blood, sweat and tears, that goes in to putting it on their supermarket shelves. Thankfully, people like Gareth are working hard to give the general public an insight into the work behind the produce, by sharing their daily lives with the general public (both via twitter and TV.).
Once again, I urge you to catch up on last nights episode. Even for Iona and I, who live and work within the farming and food industries, it was a real eye opener!
Gareth is also great on social media too, so why not give him a follow!