Boots and Heels: The town and country Yorkshire podcasters who educate their audience about farming

A young female duo from North Yorkshire could be the farming equivalent of television’s Trinny and Susannah with their no-nonsense and friendly style of interviewing that has seen their latest YouTube videos reaching 70,000 views.

Becca Wilson, a farmer’s daughter and now fifth generation farmer at the family’s 600-acre Hunday Field Farm in Grafton, and Lizzie McLaughlin, a self-confessed townie from Middlesbrough, came together when working for a poultry company and are now embarking on a third season of their Boots and Heels shows that started as podcasts during the pandemic and have now turned to video.

Lizzie said that although she is not from a farming background she fell in love with the people whose produce feeds the nation through her role with a poultry company based near Thirsk.

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“I had always seen farmers as the stereotypical older gentleman in a field in his flat cap. That’s the depiction we are always shown in children’s books.

Farmer Becca and townie Lizzie met when they worked for a poultry company in Thirsk

“Meeting farmers I realised they were not like this at all, that there were many different job roles and that there were also fantastic women in agriculture and I became interested in their stories.

“I’d started writing articles and press releases celebrating women in agriculture, especially in the poultry industry and had a lot of questions for Becca.

“It was at this time that we thought about what was out there for those who didn’t know about farming, and how we might be able to engage them positively.

“All I’d learned about farming in early years at school was the sound a cow made and at secondary school that cows were a problem for the environment but that was it, but the more you get into farming, the more you realise how much you don’t know.”

They now have a podcast and Youtube channel

Becca said she quickly found she hadn’t all the answers that Lizzie was seeking and that their combined inquisitiveness led to trying to fill a void they found existed in asking the questions.

“It’s important to say I didn’t know all of the answers.

“It’s often felt that farmers know about farming but there are so many areas and sectors of different types of farming.

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Their guests have included TV farmers and shepherdesses

“I know a fair bit about arable and sheep farming because that’s what we do at home but when I joined the poultry company I knew nothing about poultry and when Lizzie and I visited a dairy farm it was new to both of us.”

Lizzie said Boots and Heels, the title borne out of someone coming from a non-farming background and someone from the farming world, engages the public.

“There are questions that both of us ask that can come across as really humorous and can sometimes come across from me as playing some dumb blonde routine but I’m an intelligent person with a university degree and it’s neither a lack of intelligence nor ignorance that brings the questions about, it’s a lack of education about agriculture.

“That’s the same for our audience. We looked at what was out there for the general public that engaged them with farming in an accessible way.

“We’ve recently interviewed Kelvin Fletcher about his farm and he’s actually asking the questions I am.”

Becca said it can all come down to something as basic as asking the question of what is a Choc Ice cow?

“It’s a saying that some farmers know, but if we ask the question on our show and then we get the explanation that it is a breed of cattle called the Belted Galloway we can then engage the public with understanding a cow breed. By knowing the breed by name and what it looks like you can then add knowledge such as it being a native breed, why it is reared and it builds a picture that remains.

“If we can do that with one small piece of information that could engage somebody then we’ve done our job with Boots and Heels.

“We just want to provide answers, through asking the questions with farmers and farming celebrities such as NFU president Minette Batters; Will Evans from Wrexham who launched his Rock ‘n’ Roll farming podcast; Zoe Colville, the chief shepherdess and Emma Gray from the Isle of Bute and the This Farming Life TV series.

“We are using our platform to kickstart conversations about farming. I can’t believe in anything other than supporting British farming because I live it, breathe it and I’m fully invested in it every day."

Becca said she came back to the farm when her father Nick was unwell and had wondered whether that meant it was the end of the Boots and Heels shows.

“Lizzie and I decided we could fit it in around our other work and we then had a major farming magazine interested in taking on our shows as they loved what we were doing and we were reaching out to an audience they didn’t have.

“We’ve now shifted our emphasis from podcasts to videos which we upload to Instagram and are available on YouTube.”

Lizzie now writes full-time on the people behind the produce on farms and farming’s next generation as well as putting together Boots and Heels with Becca, which has also brought about one of her childhood ambitions.

“I’ve milked my first cow! It had been my dream since I was about 10 years old and I got to do it on the dairy farm Becca and I visited for the latest series.”

The girls have also touched upon mental health and wellbeing of farmers and help promote the Yellow Wellies website and were involved in the recent Mind Your Head campaign.

Lizzie said it is a subject close to her heart.

“I have always struggled with anxiety, but it was until the pandemic when I felt so isolated at home that I sought help. Many farmers feel loneliness too.

“The message I want to get out is that it is not a weakness to ask for help.

“Mental health should not be something mentioned once and never talked about again.”