I grew up on the farm, it’s always been a part of me, and when I went away to study civil engineering I knew my life would one day circle back to it, but I didn’t think it would be so soon.
I was a project manager for a big engineering firm and about to emigrate to Australia when my dad suddenly died. There was no question, I moved home to help my mum on the farm. Tragically mum was also diagnosed with cancer and they passed away within a few years of each other.
But if farming teaches you anything, it’s about the cyclical nature of life – the seasons, the growth, the harvest, the bare winter and the springtime sowing. My parents loved the land, they loved sharing food and having a laugh with family and friends. Which is why I did two things when I took over the farm. Firstly, I made it organic. Secondly, I started a festival!
Farming should be a conversation with nature
Organic farming is really important to me. Everything in life has to balance. For generations we’ve just taken from the land and not put anything back. We shouldn’t be poisoning the land, farming should be a conversation with nature and done in harmony with the land and wildlife.
To farm the way that we farm is good for the health of humans and the planet. That’s partly why I do Valley Fest. I want people to think about the environment and where their food comes from, and the impact that has.
The Community Farm is very much about coming to shake the hand that feeds you. Having a festival on a working farm means that people can come and get a better understanding about farming, they can run their hands through the soil. They can do foraging, have a look round the farm, meet the farm animals, pick veg, and enjoy talks and workshops on everything from fermenting to cider-making. This is why it’s a great family festival – to show kids where their food comes from and teach them about the land is wonderful – this is the next generation of environmental stewards.
And of course my parents knew how to have a good knees up, and I grew up going to Glastonbury every year since 1989 – I love music festivals as much as I love farming, and it’s my mission that everyone who gets on my land for Valley Fest has the time of their life!