Farming warrants greater exposure on television because there is a growing appetite among viewers for more information on food production, according to Countryfile’s Adam Henson.
The TV presenter shared his thoughts with The Yorkshire Post ahead of his latest programme which will be broadcast from a Yorkshire farm next week.
Springtime on the Farm will be filmed at Cannon Hall Farm in Cawthorne near Barnsley and will be aired on Channel 5 at 8pm between Monday, April 9 and Friday, April 13.
In its latest TV project, Daisybeck Studios, the Leeds-based programme makers behind The Yorkshire Vet series, aim to celebrate the hard work of British farmers by capturing “the heart and soul of families around the country”, many of whom are third or fourth generation farmers who battle year round to produce food for British shoppers.
Anchored by show host Mr Henson alongside Springwatch Unsprung’s Lindsey Chapman, it will document the arrival of new life, explore the challenges facing farmers in spring and tell of how farms have diversified to ensure their survival.
Helping to tell the story will be The Yorkshire Vet stars Peter Wright and Julian Norton, TV presenter Gloria Hunniford, former Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher, JLS popstar turned farmer JB Gill and actor Charles Collingwood, the voice of farmer Brian Aldridge from The Archers.
Mr Henson believes the show will feed a growing demand.
“I think the whole idea of the general public about where their food comes from is getting to be a hot topic. Programmes like Countryfile have large viewing figures and hopefully, through Springtime on the Farm, we are able to show all the ins and outs and what’s going on on farms.”
It will be the TV presenter’s first visit to Cannon Hall Farm but it will be a familiar setting nonetheless. Mr Henson’s father, Joe, diversified his farm in 1971 by opening Cotswolds Farm Park, which was then the country’s first open farm park. Rare breed farmer Mr Henson now runs it alongside his business partner and a farm manager.
Cannon Hall Farm is operated by the Nicholson family. They have transformed what was a small, struggling farm into a popular tourist attraction and it won Rural Tourist Attraction of the Year in The Yorkshire Post’s 2017 Rural Awards.
Mr Henson said he was looking forward to his visit.
“They are doing a really good job. I’m excited to go, partly because it will have similarities to back home and because it will be a good set-up to have animals giving birth and a studio with a live audience.
“Hopefully the show will be a great success, people will enjoy it, and it will lead to more programming of this kind and more people talking about farming stories,” he said.
“Farming is getting on TV more and more because the general public is very interested in food production and I would like to see more of it on TV. If I can be part of it, all the better.”
The programme features a pig farm run by the Morgan sisters in Driffield and visits to Our Cow Molly dairy farm in Sheffield, Wensleydale Creamery and Yorkshire’s Rhubarb Triangle. It also charts the toughest start to spring for decades at three farms in the Scottish Borders.
Sebastian Cardwell, channel manager and commissioning executive at Channel 5, said: “During one of the busiest times of the year for farmers, we wanted to celebrate their incredible work and shine a light on the industry. Yorkshire was the perfect area to anchor the show given the number of thriving farms, fascinating people and stories in the area.”
SCRUTINY OF HOW FARMS OPERATE
Farmers are trying to get on as best as they can amid the uncertainty over what government farming policy will be after Brexit, Mr Henson said.
“At the moment it is about crystal ball gazing,” the TV presenter said. “It is really difficult to manage a farm business at the moment. A lot of farmers are looking at their land use and their buildings, how they manage their farms, and looking at diversifying into things like tourism and energy production, something outside of traditional food production, as well as being careful about their costs.
“No one knows what is going to happen, whether it will be a land of opportunity, but it will be really different.”
A Whitehall consultation on farming policy closes on May 8.