Meet the East Yorkshire pig farmer who has set up his own videography business to educate people about food production

Finding ways of educating children about farming and the countryside is one of the guiding principles of the Driffield Agricultural Society and former pig farmer Richard Dee has been commissioned to produce a series of videos which will be available this month.

Richard Dee has pivoted from pig farming to videography and drone flying

Richard has been a member of the society for over 40 years, he sits on the Education Committee and has been responsible for the livestock sessions on the society’s Education Days held over the past six years. He also runs a photography, virtual tours and videography business.

Richard said the videos that he is currently editing, featuring a dozen sectors of the farming world are a direct and positive response to the society not being able to host their school days that attract 1,500 pupils each year, for the past two years.

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“Three thousand schoolchildren have missed out on the education days where they learn much more about agriculture by attending the event at Driffield Showground than they would by being in a classroom. They get to see the animals first hand, and the farm machinery involved in producing crops.

Richard's current project is making education videos for children about farming and food production

“Obviously, we’ve not been able to host it because of the restrictions due to the pandemic and that’s what has brought about the videos which I am putting together on everything from dairy farms to pig farms and peas, sprouts, eggs, carrots and cereal crops.”

Richard had already built a significant reputation working with farmers in providing them with an all-year-round view of their own farms through photography and video camera work. He said the videos have proved a natural extension to his work and that schools are already asking when they will be available.

“Providing videos that show how farms work, whether that is working the land with a power harrow or plough, or harvesting grass for silage, wheat, barley, oilseed rape and vegetable crops; or milking cows, raising beef animals, shepherding sheep or producing eggs is at least something we can provide in the meantime and can add to the schoolchildren’s education.

“I’m trying to show how each form of farming is produced and consumed. At the end of the video about eggs, filmed at Elliott’s Eggs in Bewholme, we show the packing lines and then we show a number of the different things eggs are used for such as scrambled eggs on a plate, boiled eggs, fried eggs and even Yorkshire Puddings so that schoolchildren can begin to understand their importance in cooking.

Richard with farmer Charlie Buckton, of Rise

“As well as filming the wheat and barley growing in the fields and combine harvesters working, I have also included Bradshaw’s mill in Driffield and then show the products the crops go towards such as flour, biscuits and beer."

Richard said there is much education needed, not just of schoolchildren but often of adults.

“When we have the education days there are questions that sometimes scare you, such as what is the difference between a mother and a lamb? Why is a particular sheep small and another one big? But one of the most astounding came from a teacher who, after watching a replica cow being ‘milked’ to give hands-on experience, said: ‘Where do the eggs come from then?’

“What we are trying to do with the videos is to provide programmes of around twelve minutes that can really show not just what goes on within farming but why it goes on and what food and drink is produced.

“I’ve been fortunate to catch Pete Burdass, a dairy farmer from Harpham, who bottles his own St Quintin’s milk, as he has been changing his cows over to robotic milking. I’ve filmed various breeds of sheep at Richard Jackson’s farm in Grindale and Charlie Buckton’s at Rise plus Vicky Morgan’s Pockthorpe Pigs. It’s important children know that not every lamb, pig or calf is the same.”

Ideally, Richard would like to see a return of the Education Days, which should hopefully be revived next year, but through his filming on individual farms he also feels that real farm visits would be another great extension to Driffield Agricultural Society’s future educational programme.

“It would be good for schoolchildren to spend time visiting farms when they are 10-12 years old right across the Wolds and Holderness, with someone on a coach providing a commentary on what are in the fields on their way, explaining the crops and the livestock and why the animals are there and why certain places are better for things than others.

“We had one story of a young lad from the centre of Hull who came to our last Education Day and who had never been out of the city.

“When the school bus or coach left the city behind he’d asked his teacher why there weren’t any houses. That’s why we must keep giving schoolchildren as much as we can.”