Precision Grazing – Meet the Farmer – Will Evans – For the love of farming.

Precision Grazing – Meet the Farmer – Will Evans – For the love of farming.

Every generation of farmer has had different opportunities and therefore different decisions to make, be it taking advantage of grants to establish a suckler herd, to improving grazing land by making fields bigger or by introducing continental cross cattle.  Today as subsidies and markets change many are taking it all back to basics and simplifying the system to improve profit and lifestyle.

Will Evans, 4th generation farmer at Hendreseifion near Machynlleth, along with his wife Nia and 3 young sons,  is taking a different approach to the farm than his father and grandfather, wanting to work smarter, not harder whilst aiming to bring a better balance to the family, work, well-being and the bank balance as government incentives lessen and change.

‘I like to think we weren’t lazy before, but wonder if we were busy without needing to be THAT busy’.

10 years ago Will received a HCC Scholarship, which took him to South America to see cattle finished off grass, even then, something was not sitting right with him, one being that Australia, America and South America took our Hereford genetics to grow beef and finish off grass, and we moved to continental breeds and finished on concentrates.  This started some changes on the farm, a move away from Lim X Belgium Blues to a Stabiliser suckler herd, tweaks to the sheep flock, and time ticked on and they continued to do their best.

Eventually Will invested his time, joining the Farming Connect ‘Profit from Pasture’ course which introduced him to James Daniel and Rhys Williams from Precision Grazing, along with other independent expert speakers on grassland and soils. the course really opened his eyes to what could be done with pasture.

Filled with confidence in Precision Grazing, Will knew they were the right team to bring onto the farm to help make the big changes required. The initial conversation of where the farm wanted to go and how PG could help them get there, saw some pretty bold thoughts; get rid of the suckler herd, sell the machinery, use contractors and most importantly; keep it simple.

We thought we had already narrowed our costs down, introducing the Stabiliser cow, finishing off grass, however by taking a whole systems approach Rhys has helped us get the input costs down even further’.

It’ll come now… next year it’ll come good

We felt we were on stand still going, nowhere’

They started by reviewing the accounts using Xero accounting software, which meant they could really dissect the costs of each enterprise down to the last £1 and determine what was actually making money. That was the start, Rhys helped them to make a plan based on improving grazing management and pasture productivity to off-set some of their input costs. 

Precision Grazing really have the farm and families interests at heart, they have moved us forward and we feel we are now getting the rewards from our their hard work with the finances and farm in a much healthier place.

In his wildest dreams Will never thought he could bring Kiwi X dairy heifers to a block of land 800ft above sea level. Quite the view, the trees growing on an angle show the extremes, traditionally set stocked with sheep and cattle; finding water where they could, now it has been converted into a successful paddock grazing system which is about to go into its second rotation. 

Kiwi X dairy heifers – B&B on the hill

The land had been rested for 2 months, which was longer than Will anticipated, so a good wedge had grown, but in hindsight this was invaluable during the dry summer we’ve had. Kiwitech fencing system was used, 3 strands of wire cutting the block in half, this semi-permeant fence provides power to feed a pair of temporary electric fences used to create the 1-2 day paddocks, the size of which is varied according to pasture available.  Currently the 125 R2 heifers require 0.7ha per day.  A 5000 litre water tank is fed from the spring, and blue pipe goes all the way down to the lower paddock, with Kiwitech water hydrants feeding off it, to feed 2 paddocks with 1 Kiwitech drag trough, this trough holds 100 litres and fills quickly.  Having a smaller area to graze means the stock can drink whenever they want, as individuals, as opposed to a herd going off to drink together meaning this small trough can be used (providing flow rate is sufficient).

The difference in the 1st grazed and last grazed paddock is impressive. The last paddock has been grazed, trampled and residue left, the 1st paddock has fresh new growth, having taken advantage of nearly 2 months rest and soil organic matter built up from the trampled grasses, which have taken advantage of the little rain we’ve had.

Electric fence set up – with the help of Precision Grazing

‘I’m so excited to see what has been done in 2 months, I can’t wait to see what changes will have happened by next year’.

And here is the problem, excited farmers, literally watching the grass grow and improve before their eyes, for the benefit of them, their family, the livestock and their business. A problem, why may you ask, because with this new found freedom of time and finances, they can really get serious about making other beneficial changes and take back control over their farm.

You can’t manage the grassland if you don’t have the right infrastructure

This system is an investment, it does take time and money, it takes help and guidance to get it right, BUT, the benefits soon become apparent. A system that works, makes life easier, is dependable, safe, saves money, improves the health & fertility of your livestock and means investment can be made elsewhere in the business.

Rhys said working with us  will cost X – but we’ll save you or make you at least double that to begin with! – once you start it creates a snowball and you are benefiting all the time from the advice received.

Will decided to meet with Precision Grazing once a month, either in person or on-line, as he wanted to make big changes to the business relatively quickly, allowing them to adapt to the situation that is a likely reduction of subsidy payments and rising input costs.  

Having someone to hold your hand through the process and be accountable to, has been key in this process, from initial big ideas, setting up the paddock system, sharing data and taking the business forward, Rhys from Precision Grazing has been an integral team player, always wanting the best for Will, his family and farm business.

Another benefit of being part of Precision Grazing has been joining the discussion group, they’ve been benchmarking their figures, and being able to see where you can get to is inspiring Will and others, whilst being able to learn from each other and see what has worked and what hasn’t. The language used is also changing, looking at soil biology, as opposed to fertiliser, kilos and pounds per hectare, not pounds per hd.  Focusing on pasture first changes the way you look at things and opens your eyes to new systems and a new way of thinking.

Reward yourself

Any job needs a reward, but that reward has been missing from farming for many years. Here is a system that you can reward yourself with a healthier bank balance, a better way of life, but it all needs to be earnt and worked at. Will knows how lucky he is to live here at Hendreseifion, the farm, the lifestyle, but he believes as farmers we need to stop taking it for granted;

You can’t just have it or be it, you have to work at it to be here and work the land and doing what we are doing is  earning our place here’.

It does need to be financially viable; it needs to be worked at, smarter and simply, and this is what Precision Grazing can help you achieve.

Hearing Will say he has the love of farming again was so great to hear, taking pleasure from moving cows through the paddock system, and rearing an animal to the high spec the owner wants them, is making him very happy, coupled with a clear vision of where he now wants to go and how to create a healthy and sustainable business  has bought the joy back into farming.

But this joy has been lost by many, continued stress the strains, feeling helpless, but as farmers you can take that power back, you CAN make positive changes to your business, you CAN change your mindset and you MUST so you can have a healthy, future proof, business. 

Precision Grazing is a company that wants the best for you, that can see your business through fresh eyes, here is a company you can have confidence in, and who will back you as far as you want to go.  As Will said there is no shame in getting rid of the suckler herd, no shame in making decisions that are best for you and your business and there is certainly no shame in asking for help. Reaching out to ask for help, having someone who wants to have your back is vital in the process, by taking that first step, picking up the phone, with that action you are taking back your power, and giving yourself the freedom of time and money.

Visit www.precisiongrazing today to book your free consultation today!

Farm facts:

East of Machynlleth

Flat lying land – improved grazing rising to upland rocky outcrop pastures

25ft – 800ft ASL

1200mm rainfall

125 – Kiwi X dairy heifers – contract rearing

1350 – Improved welsh ewe X HillPro Performance recorded ram

            Flock A – Improved Welsh x Performance Welsh ram

            Flock B – Old ewes x ram

100 Stabiliser suckler herd and followers – to be dispersed

175 acres rented land – upland – dairy heifers – Precision Grazing system

320 acres – owned – improved grassland – next to be set up to the Precision Grazing system

1000 acres – owned – Snowdonia National Park – Dinas Mawddwi – weaned ewes

450 acres rented land – sheep – moved weekly.

Blue pipe, feeds water held in a tank at the top of the hill, down to the Drag and Drop trough.

Words and Images by Sian Mercer, My Rural Tribe

To listen to our full conversation click the logo below

Movement, Rest, Root

Movement, Rest, Root

Blog by Sian Mercer – Photo also by Sian Mercer! x

In the world of holistic grazing the aim is to move livestock daily, rest the swards and allow the herbs and grasses to put down deep roots.  Movement by hooves help break up gapped soils, muck and seeds, movement is key to a healthy sward.  Rest is critical to allow the sward to recover, to allow it grow tall, to break the worm cycle, allow dung beetles, insects, birds and pollinators to come in a thrive in this diversity, and finally, rest will enable the roots to penetrate deeply into the soil, creating strength, water infiltration, nutrient uptake and mycorrhizal communities, a whole network is created.

Movement, rest and roots isn’t just for swards, it’s for humans to.

Daily movement is SO important to our body, mind and soul.  Keeping our bodies moving, keeps it strong and in good condition, it helps our mind, keeping depression and mental health issues and it helps regulate our gut, or first brain, helping us feel strong in body, mind and soul.

Rest. Not just getting 8 hours of sleep a night, but taking a rest day, or a nap for even ½ an hour can be life changing. I recently listened to a ‘We can do hard things’ podcast with Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry. She speaks of the importance of rest, how it heals us, lets us dream and become creative. Modern life has made us hustle and grind, to become just another number on a pay-roll, to forget our dreams and desires, to keep us in a place of exhaustion. If we do not take ourselves off the wheel of exhaustion and must do and must keep up and must do more…. We will never make the changes we so desperately wish for. Think of when you are on holiday, all the dreams you have, the ‘what ifs’, the desires to change your life, are because you have rested, you have given yourself the ‘gift’ of time, time to take it easy, to lounge, to rest your eyes, to stare and the sea, to just be. 

When did you last rest? Take a listen to the podcast and let me know what you think.

Roots, family, community are the core to what makes us human. Humans need humans, and yet, in this modern time of all the technology to link us together, we have never been lonelier. When did you last feel rooted to your land to your community? Deep roots allow us to feel strength, better health, diversity, greater communication, the sharing of ideas, understanding of how we are all different but yet work together for community good.

Modern society has pushed us down individualism, be independent, self-reliant, go go go! And yet, we have a mental health crisis, we have youngsters who don’t know how to talk to people, we have elderly people who can go weeks without seeing or speaking to another. We have fracture the very essence of what makes us human.

When did you last move your body?

When did you last take a rest?

When did you last create community of tribe?

Put some music on and move to the beat….

Turn off your phone, TV, radio, all the distractions, sit and close your eyes and rest….

Go outside, find some grass, take off your shoes and socks and walk slowly, barefoot, and be rooted to the ground beneath your feet…. Thank me later

Thoughts and words written by Sian Mercer – www.myruraltribe – Inspired by nature, books, podcasts and conversation.

Sian Mercer

Precision Grazing – Meet the Farmer – Philip Hughes -Keeping it simple for pasture and farm performance

Precision Grazing – Meet the Farmer – Philip Hughes -Keeping it simple for pasture and farm performance

Trying to make himself redundant from his own business is what Philip Hughes is trying his best to do with the help of a paddock grazing system and Precision Grazing consultants James Daniel and Rhys Williams.

Philip HUghes standing with angus cross dairy beef
Phillip Hughes with his Angus X cattle

Philip is running a diverse family business; sheep, beef, a thriving caravan park and his new ventures of anaerobic digester, data centre and soon to be growing pharmaceutical crops. To ensure all are successful, they need to be well run with a simple business plan that his (expanding) team can take the lead on whilst they perform financially, socially and environmentally. Aiming for redundancy will allow Philip to further grow and diversify the family farm.

Once a traditional welsh hill farm, with suckler cows, store cattle, a Welsh hill flock and lowland Texel flock, set stocking, feeding cake and creep feed saw them doing their best and just getting by. But then in 2019 two things happened, they learnt there would a new subsidy regime and tax went digital.

No more receipts being sent off to accountant in an old shoe box, the different livestock enterprises were inputted into Xero accounting software, figures analysed, costs seen and the figures were sobering, suddenly they could see what the subsidy was hiding, they were making a loss, they were spending £3 external investment to make £1 turnover which was financial madness.  Things needed to change, and quickly.

Sarah, Philip’s wife encouraged him to attend the Farming Connect Master Grass programme which was facilitated by James Daniel from Precision Grazing, this 2 day intensive course was the start of turning the farm business around, to a place where they could make a profit before subsidy. 

On his return home Philip bought some electric fence and trialled it out on a small part of the farm, and the changes were quick, the pasture recovered quickly but he knew if he wanted to get to the next level, he would need help to get there.

Moving to rotational grazing is a fundamental change to a farming system that has been generations in the making on our family farm;  it is a massive change, and I genuinely wouldn’t have made the changes without the external help of Precision Grazing.

Angus dairy beef enjoying paddock grazing.

Rhys Williams (Precision Grazing) helped design the paddock grazing system on the Ffridd and lowlands of the farm, working together with Philip to create a plan, which is reviewed each month on Zoom or in person, along with the grazing & pasture management and business performance budgets & plans. The result, more forage than they knew what to do with! For instance one block of land that once held 120 ewes now holds between 180-200. They are working towards doubling the farm’s output through extra pasture production whist eliminating the need for purchased inputs.

Furthermore the pasture is of much higher quality, lambs have increased daily liveweight gains and now B&B Aberdeen Angus X dairy calves have been introduced into the system to increase stocking rate and improve the soil biology even more.

Having water in the right places is key. Water and fences are an investment, there is no getting away from this, but it makes life easier and the job doable and the achievements greater.

Challenges were faced in the start of this journey, but good changes came from them. Under and over grazing, poor grass quality, too much grass and scald were frustrations, but with the help of Rhys they overcame them as they got in sync with the system, and now the rewards far outweigh these initial challenges. 

A simple system that everyone understands makes the system work.

Bringing the family and shepherds on board has helped create a simple system that they all understand and can buy into.  Communication has increased and improved the farm business, now a daily team talk in the morning and a 1hr once a week in the office conflab ensures everyone is heard and can feed into the business with their ideas and knowledge, this has been a game changer and has benefited the business more than that hour would have by carrying out physical farm work, so much so Philip will be increasing this to a 2hour office time.

It is key to have a detailed measuring plan – if this is neglected you get ½ of what it can present.

Precision Grazing provide the tools to help implement a simple system, Philip uses an excel sheet to input animal numbers and demands, plus grass metered data and information on each paddock. Grass metering the farm once a month is key, not only does it get you into your farm it confirms what you know but also shows the improvements which is a massive boost. Philip was very aware of rotational grazing systems that have been adopted into many dairy farms, but before meeting Precision Grazing he did not have the confidence or knowledge to introduce it in to a beef and sheep farm with multiple mobs on such varying land types. With the help and guidance of Precision Grazing he now has the knowledge and confidence to work this type of system.

Soil sampling and liming are key to good grassland.

Soil samples are carried out each year with lime spread in the September so it is ready for the crops uptake in the spring, seeing optimum investment in the pasture and swede crops. Before starting rotational grazing and inputting AD, the farm historically spread 20.10.10 as a standard fertiliser and soil PH was in the low 5’s, and Index 2-3 for Phosphate. Now soil PH is around 6.5 and phosphate index 1, and the grass keeps growing, showing that the soil biology has woken up, is alive and doing its job.

The farm has historically been low production, set stocked leys but with the guidance of Precision Grazing he is now implementing a 2 Track approach;

Track 1 – Improve the grazing management by using Precision Grazing. Apply digestate to improve the soil biology and nutrient content and leave a profitable and productive farm.

Track 2 – Rejuvenate pastures by seeding new grass leys in a 7 year rotation along with swedes and Redstart (hybrid fodder rape and kale which keeps growing) by direct drilling (to keep carbon in the soil). New grass leys are more cost effective than buying cake. Swedes are costing 3.5p per ewe per day, which is a massive saving on winter feed costs and will offer 80% DM with the remaining 20% DM received from silage. At the moment new grass leys are based on a Rye grass, timothy, red & white clover mix, but Philip is interested to try herbal leys and this is where the advice from Precision Grazing is key, they are learning and gaining knowledge and expertise which they pass on through their consulting work.

Fat lambs grazing Redstart – a hybrid rape and kale

What will be really interesting is can we get to the quality of grass and farm performance that we need with good management alone or do we need to rejuvenate with new seed mixes – time will tell.

Can you put a cost on changing and transforming a business? As consultants they keep expanding and changing the thought process to keep us moving forward and evolving our business, and you can’t put a number on that!

Among the “hard to quantify benefits to the business is the Prosper From Pasture discussion group which Precision Grazing facilitate on behalf of Farming Connect.   A network of people coming together to share their data, farm figures, the good, the bad and the ugly has shown Philip what can be achieved. When he joined, Hendwr was at the bottom of the league table, and now with the help and encouragement of others he is improving and in a better place. Learning from external speakers and having someone to pick up the phone to has opened many new doors as being the only one in the area paddock grazing can be lonely, but the discussion group has stopped that happening.

Having a Precision Grazing ‘pasture first approach’ means control has been taken back by the farm business. Suddenly the external pressures are not there; the high feed and fertilizer prices etc. which means that money can be spent where they want it to be.

I feel more in control and therefore more relaxed knowing what the plan is, and I can see a way through to the future.  I want to hand the farm over, to whoever that is, in really good shape; financially, productively with enhanced biodiversity and using this system will ensure that happens.

Key Tips

  • Get the infrastructure set up quickly – boundary fences, paddocks and water
  • Get to grips with measuring and planning as early as possible – use a simple excel sheet
  • Get to know your farm – walk it with you plate meter
  • Communicate with your team – get them on board and buying into the system
  • Keep it simple – farm for your farm.

Just do it! Try it on a small block of ground, grow your confidence and knowledge and once you have that you will keep on going.

The benefits of having extra team members through working withof Precision Grazing is so beneficial. Change is hard but you don’t need to struggle, help is there with expertise, knowledge and guidance plus a whole network of other farmers who have been there and are getting the T’Shirt.

Farm Facts

  • 4th Generation
  • 400ha (1000 Acres) – 60% Berwyn Mountain, 20% Improved Ffridd, 20% Improved lowland grassland
  • 500ft – 2800ft ASL
  • Soils – lowland loamy gravels up to mountain peatlands and all in between.
  • 65’’ (1650mm) average rainfall
  • 1000 Welsh ewes
  • 400 Texel ewes (to be dispersed)
  • 120 AA x dairy calves with aim to more than double


  • Farm – Welsh Hill flock, B&B AA x Dairy calves
  • Caravan park – which was set up in the 1960’s
  • AD Plant fed on slurry and broiler litter
  • Data Centre
  • Moving into growing pharmaceutical crops

Words and Images by Sian Mercer, My Rural Tribe.

To listen to our full conversation follow the logo below

Are you born with it, or learned with it?

Are you born with it, or learned with it?

Are you born a high achiever or is it something you pick up from those that surround you?

So often the words ‘high achiever’ are said as a negative, but what if we turned that around, that to be a high achiever takes ambition, goal setting and hard work, then THIS would be the truer version of those words.

Mark is a high achiever he has monetary goal he wishes to achieve, because why else would you get up at 3.30am every day to milk cows, if you aren’t being rewarded for it? To strive to be the best farmer he can, producing high quality milk, high yields, healthy cows and being able to reward himself and his family with the best lifestyle he can.

All the family get involved in the day to day running of the farm, even Sadie!

Mark was born into the farming life, taking good grounding from his granny who rented 2 farms, and sold eggs into Chester whilst raising a family. The opportunity to buy her own farm, saw her diversify into selling chickens and to start the dairy enterprise. Savvy business decisions meant a 2nd farm was bought, allowing the 2 sons to farm in their own right, under the one business name, which has led to healthy competition between the two farms.

Lucy, Marks better half, is not from a farming background, has ‘married’ into the farming life and she loves it! Lucy main role is looking after the youngstock, milking and of course looking after Sadie, their daughter who is always with them and is involved in all the jobs – a true childhood of dreams!

You can really see that they both love what they do, and this is seen in the quality of the stock, machinery and the farm, which are all looked after to a high standard.

Lucy with her 2 favourite girls, Sadie and Donkey!

4 years ago they decided to start using Cross Bred cattle in their all year calving system. They have gone for a Montebeliard x Swedish Red and wish they had done this sooner. Sexed semen is used on the heifers and better cows, and they have seen increased fertility and milk solids and have seen improved health and feet.

Calves are born and then go into an individual pen, where the Stallion Individual Feeder is used with the pink teat. Using the individual milk feeder means that they can ensure the calf has drunk all the milk and is getting 1:2:1 attention and illness such as scours can be isolated and treated. Once they are feeding well, at about 7 days old, they join a group of 5 other calves, based on their size, and get fed milk in a trough with ad-lib course mix. Heifers stay housed until they calve.  This system works really well for them, as they can control the feed intake and it saves time and labour.

The @KiwiKit pink teat makes feeding easier!

The calves are tagged with Datamars Tags, and they can’t be more pleased with them, as they rarely ever come out, so much so they don’t freeze brand as they are so confident in the tags doing their job! Heifers are tagged with 1 yellow management tag and 1 coloured, each year has its own colour, for ease of management. Only once the heifer has calved, does her coloured tag get replaced with a yellow tag, and she officially becomes a cow!

The cows are producing milk with excellent fat and protein levels, this is attributed to the good quality grass and maize silage that is produced. They take at least 5 cuts over the growing season and use SafeSil by Kelvin Kave which is a preservative and keeps the silage fresher for longer once it has been fed out.  The grass leys are ‘renewed’ every 3-5 years, by direct drilling perennial grasses into the sward, and then ‘topped up’ every 2 years, this system pays for itself massively and is worth the investment.  The fields are rotated from Day and Night fields, with the cows getting disgruntled if they are in the wrong ‘time zone’!  By the time the parlour is turned on and a few jobs done the cows have bought themselves in.

3 years ago, all of the grazing fields were re-electric fenced around the field boundaries and a PEL system put in place, to run off the mains.  They are really pleased with this system and use the electric fence tester to ensure power if going through and any faults can be found. Before turn out Mark spent an hour checking all the fences and finding any fault, so quick and easy to use. When they need to reduce a paddock size they use the PEL Solar panel, which is reliable, and you know it’s not going to run flat! It just makes life easier.

PEL Solar panel

Lucy is a HUGE fan of the Kiawaka Ladies Storm Coat, as chief scrapper driver, she needs to ensure she is kept warm and dry, and along with her Bib & Brace, this is ensured! Rain runs straight off the coat and the rubber cuffs ensure not water is running down her arms! The length is great as it covered her bum and keeps everything toasty!

The Bib & Brace has been a game changer, it is such good quality and again does the job it is supposed to! Lucy just couldn’t be more pleased with her kit… much to Marks disdain as she raves about it ALL THE TIME!

Everything we have had from KiwiKit has been so good, we’ve never had any issues or needed to send anything back. The staff are all really helpful – which just makes it easy!

Trusting in your ability to achieve your goals, is more than mind-set, it is knowing you can trust in the decisions you make for your stock, trust in the machinery to keep the farm moving and trust in the kit that you use to manage the cattle and to trusting in what you wear to keep you warm and dry! All these decisions make for a well-run farm business.

The Kaiwaka Ladies Storm Coat keeps Lucy warm and dry, especially important when you don’t have a cab!

@kiwikit @datamars @thefarmslife @kelvinkave

Do we really care about where our food comes from, how it was raised and produced?

Do we really care about where our food comes from, how it was raised and produced?

This week I was interviewed for a media scholarship with Jeremy Hayes BBC Editor… Wow WEE! My scenario was based on what Tim Leunig had said the week before – how the UK should import in all its food…. Say what?! 

Of course, I went in with explaining that Singapore is an island city and only 559km sq in size, so a fraction of the UK… was Mr Leunig getting confused that there is no Britain outside of London?! 

The UK agriculture and food industry only equates to 1% GDP, with 1.5% of the workforce looking after 69% of the land. 1.5% of the population looks after 69% of the land… so few are doing this… surely THIS is to be celebrated, that so few do much for the many of us… why are we not praising this, instead of trying to take away the foundations of this country?

The UK is agriculture, it is what our landscape has been created by, the fields, the hedges, the stone walls, the buildings, the livestock grazing, fields of crops. We love to drive through it… unless you a sulky teenager who quite frankly hates going anywhere with the family, and even less so if it involves the phrase ‘look at the view’, we love to holiday in it, walk in it, visit it, and some a lucky enough to work in it. 

What would our beautiful country, and yes, it is beautiful, we have glorious seasons and there is nowhere better to be on a sunny day, be without farmers? Who would manage the land, who would grow our food?

The world is vulnerable… I think we can all feel it, climate change or something is happening, corona virus has many in fear and yet in the UK our self-sufficiency has dropped to 60% from a previous 80%… should we not be trying to reverse this, to be as self-sufficient as we can be? Import all our food he said… in a time when we should be reducing travel, reducing the transport of goods, in a bid to save our plant. Instead our farmers are under attack, do some people not realise that if the farmer is gone so is our food, without food we die. Our supermarkets hold 4 meals…. If U boats suddenly returned to our seas our bellies would soon be hungry. 

Balance IS needed, the land needs protecting, but it also needs protecting from urbanisation, industry and developed… progress people! Progress! But is it? Where I live, 4000 houses are to be built, on land that grew crops, where a blue bell wood thrives and a barn owl makes her morning swoop across the fields…. To lose these is not progress in my eyes. 

But do we REALLY care or can those will money only care when it comes it buying British food, because of the high welfare and produce standards, British grown produce is more expensive than the cheaper imports. Why are they cheaper? Higher stock numbers, lower welfare standards, greater use of chemicals and antibiotics, lower labour costs, less red tape? All these add up. But at the end of the day, do we really care or do we just want cheap food? 

There is a real disconnect about food, it has become a throw away commodity, 3 for 2, ‘fast food’, ready meals, Best Before dates, Use By dates, gone are the days when most of our wages went on food, where nothing was wasted, the fridge was not stuffed, and we were not hungry or on a constant diet… 

Respect is needed for the food we eat, this life force, food should not be a throw away commodity, it is sacred, it is to be respected, it is to be eaten and savoured.

But do we really care? I hope we do, because if we don’t we will be vulnerable and we will lose the few who do so much for us. 

Cultivate your land, cultivate yourself….

Cultivate your land, cultivate yourself….

Last week My Rural Tribe was privileged to photograph Cultivate 2020 – The Rural Growth Summit, which took place at Heaton House Farm, an ex-dairy farm turned award winning wedding & conference venue.

Culitvate is not your usual farming conference, no industry specific talks, no science and very limited tweed! Cultivate was setting a new agenda, a new type of agricultural conference, bringing the city to the countryside, and with it – SO MUCH FRICKING INSPIRATION!

Cultivate – The Rural Growth Summit

The venue looked amazing, were we in Manchester or rural Macclesfield? The stage set the tone for the event, this was a professional event, aimed at the farming community.

An early start for breakfast and networking…. Breakfast was cooked by Stable Yard Catering ,using local produce, the Staffordshire Oat cakes wrapped around cheese and bacon, were amazing!  This was networking at its best… but people stuck with those they knew….this wouldn’t last long. 

Only 4 speakers… at a paid for conference, with no industry specific talks, from 8am – 5pm…… huh?!

Malcolm Smith – Mind Games Management

The room came alive..

Malcolm Smith was amazing, the FCUKS were flying around but boy the room was buzzing with energy, the audience were challenged, they were engaged, there was laughter, conversation, and just A LOT of WOW! I was totally blown away, how someone can be so engaging, so inspiring! Notes were being written, quotes photographed, learning was taking place….. 

A break… from a quiet breakfast to an increase in volume, conversations were happening, people were talking, loudly, the laughter was carrying on…. The buzz….. to see and hear it… WOW

Networking and conversation!
Brad Waldron – Intelligent Inspiration

The names Bond, James Bond…

Brad Waldron – was exceptional.  From where I stand behind the lens, you see a different view… I must admit, I was worried, there wasn’t the laughter, where was the energy?…. But then BOOM! There is was… the room were listening, intently listening, engaged and focused.  The audience, were not allowed to relax in their chairs, they are up, doing tasks, engaging with each other, there was fear on some faces – no one wanted to the chairman, laughter was had – they all wanted the Ace, and wrist arm wrestling…. you can never get some sights out of your head! James Bond, the ultimate role model, gets in, gets the job done, gets home and still makes his lady feel special, all while being an Ace.

More energy, you could feel it, you could see it… people were sitting taller, engaging with others on the table… wow… just WOW. 

Ross McMahon

Broaden yourself, travel and see what people want..

Ross McMahon…  bought a Heinz factory for a £1 and started producing – Kendalmil baby formula. Ross, originally from Ireland and having worked within the food processing industry for years, was epic…. Quietly spoken, not sticking to script, and so very interesting… when they say surround yourself by influential people, he did this from a young age, you surely cant’ go wrong having Barry McGuigan as our best friend!  

Ross became a Twitter sensation in China for flaunting his tins of baby formula, a market who have a huge appetite for the stuff! Insightful, inspiring, thought provoking… there are markets out there for British meat and dairy, countries who hold our produce in high esteem, because they know it comes with such high standards, of welfare and production.

The time is now, to step away from the farm and to look in other directions to find a new way for your produce. Ross spoke of how travel is invaluable, to learn from others, to attend food trade fairs, to find out what the next ‘trends’ will be and to meet your consumer.

Jane Lane – Tebay Services

A family journey, full of passion and grace..

Jane Lane, of Tebay Services, surely the best services EVER?! Gave the most beautiful, graceful and passionate talk, about the ‘Why’ behind the services. Started by her father, they took advantage of the M6 going north, cutting through their land and bringing the tourist with them.  

Community is at the heart of all they do, the community that work for them and the community of local producers that provide, from the bread, the sausage rolls and the beautiful gifts.  The farm is still very much part of the Tebay story with all their own beef and lamb being sold through the Tebay shops.  A story of thinking outside the box, looking towards opportunities, and how to influence and work with your community.  

Lives will be changed..

This day will have changed the lives of the people in the room, they will have be inspired, they may have gone away with realisations, the light bulb moment, or they may have gone away just thinking what a great day they had… BUT in the coming days, and weeks, they will remember something that was said, their actions, language and energy  may change, and this will have affects not only on them, but all those around them.

Who thought talks of ‘chunking’, telling your neighbour how great you area, James Bond and a deck of cards could be so powerful?!  To be inspired by other farmers who have made a massive impact on their communities, a community they created or one they grew up in? 

But what is it all about? Energy! Engagement! Purpose! Your Why! and Your Community… 

For most of the year they will have cultivated their business, the land, the livestock, but for this one day, they cultivated themselves, their thoughts, their actions, the land has been prepared and from that great things will grow.

I can’t wait for Cultivate 2021…. Can you?!

Team Cultivate! Well done!