When is a farmer really a farmer?


Today I was told ‘I’m not a farmer therefore I do not understand.’
This to me came as no surprise. I’m used to the uninterested looks when people discover I do not own thousands of acres of land and that I am effectively, a smallholder.

I consider myself very lucky to be in the position that I am- with a few acres of land, able to keep a fair few animals without worrying about the financial side of things.
Like many I can only dream of one day owning my own farm. Well a real farm anyway.

Even when the TV series First Time Farmers aired there was the resounding “when are they going to use proper farmers” echoing around my Twitter feed.

I’ve grown up with dung in my hair and cows as best friends, I’ve seen the destruction of Foot and Mouth, I’ve said since I was about five years old that I would be a farmer. I studied Agriculture at Hadlow College; this led to me obtaining a degree in Agriculture from the Royal Agricultural University. I’ve lambed god knows how many thousand sheep, been voted runner up Britain’s Sexiest Farmer and I’ve reared my own livestock. Yet, my identity is still floating round in an abyss between non-farming folk seeing me as an agricultural encyclopaedia, but actual farming folk looking at me like a naïve girl desperate to be something I’m not.

It’s hard being a new entrant, and it’s also hard being a female. It seems to me, unless my father owns a farm which I work full time on and will one day inherit, I am pretty stuffed. If I marry a farmer I’ll of course be a farmer’s wife. Being a farmer, it would seem, is a very exclusive club.

I don’t think my dream of having my own farm, or at least enough sheep to not be looked at like a farmer might look at a strand of blackgrass in his wheat, will ever go away and nor will that desperate need in the pit of my stomach.
There is a fear I am going to be haunted with the ‘smallholder’ title for the rest of my life, but in the meantime I will continue to be an advocate for British agriculture, and in fact agriculture all over the globe, and do what I can to show just how hard farmers (you know, real farmers) work every day to feed the world.

thank a farmer

3 thoughts on “When is a farmer really a farmer?

  1. Hi Alice
    Sorry this is completely unrelated to your article. I’m in my final year of school, and I’ll shortly be applying to study agriculture at undergraduate level. Harlow and RAU are both places I’m looking at, I was wondering if you had any advice or similar on the subject.

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