“Farming” is the activity of growing crops or keeping animals on a farm, according to Collins
dictionary. But what does the future hold for farming?
Recently, there seems to have been an onslaught of negativity towards farming practices. Every time
you open a paper, switch on the TV or look at social media, farmers are being blamed for climate
change, destroying nature, polluting rivers. We’re led to believe eating meat is bad for us, and as a
result the masses are reducing their meat consumption or choosing a vegetarian or vegan diet. This
combined with the major reduction and phasing out of direct support from government over the
next few years paints a pretty bleak picture for the future of farming.
Both Chris & I were born into the Exmoor farming life, with parents, grandparents and great-
grandparents working the fields to feed the nation. We met, as many farming couples do, at a Young
Farmers disco many years ago. Farming is in our blood. From early childhood we helped our parents on the farm, evenings, weekends, school holidays spent feeding or tending to the animals. It is a way of life, our home, our business wrapped into one. But times are changing. Farming is no longer just about caring for our animals or land.
When Chris & I took over the management of the farm from Chris’s Dad, Robert, 10 years ago, we
set about reviewing the business performance and quickly realised change was needed to ensure
our future survival. With the phasing out of direct government support a big chunk of farm income
will be disappearing, so a plan was needed.
We’ve tackled everything, looked at incomings and outgoings to see where gains or cuts can be
made, monitored stock performance, changed our grassland management, sat through farm
resilience and farm for the future programmes. We’ve considered various farm diversifications, but
with limited resources always felt it was too much of a gamble in time and money. Eventually,
though, we took the plunge and sunk a large amount of our hard-earned cash (well, we haven’t quite
earned it yet!), time and effort into a new project.
Orchard Escapes Exmoor, our glamping adventure, was born after seeing glamping pods on a
“study trip” to the Royal Welsh Show with the Exmoor Hill Farm Network. Our hope is that this is
part of building a resilient future, creating a new revenue stream alongside our ever-changing
farming business, and hoping that we can continue producing high quality, nutritious food whilst
caring for our beautiful landscapes on Exmoor.
I’ll finish with a few quotes that recently came up on my social media.