River Cottage Farming Inspiration

Farming Inspirations

Everyone idolises heroes or outstanding people in their desired field, and farming is no different. We have farming inspirations that have contributed to out interest in farming and the methods we intend to implement.

Having a farming inspiration has helped me formulate ideas, see what farming may really be like and also work out what not to do!

So far most of my farming inspirations have been TV presenters. I’ve read plenty of books, and enjoyed understanding theories and reading farmers’ stories (I’m looking at Joel Salatin, in particular). However, I’ve not been as attached to those farmers as I have to the presenters listed below. Perhaps it’s the quality of the TV production, or perhaps I’m just more of a visual person.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Hugh is not strictly a farmer – rather a gentleman farmer. He has his own place in the UK called River Cottage. Hugh is a great presenter, and makes his shows more enjoyable with ridiculously bad puns (which he revels in).

Generally, Hugh’s shows will focus on a couple of different steps in a process. An example would be when he begins the day fishing for trout in the local stream. Meeting locals, he might detail some good tactics to catch the fish. Later in the day, he’ll go back to his kitchen, gut and cook the fish and then have a competition with his chef over who can cook the best fish meal. Having the opportunity to view the whole process is a refreshing change for me and I love it!

River Cottage provides a range of goods and services to people interested in real food. There’s a restaurant close to the farm (which my brother Cam has visited). There are also a range of courses provided on site. Cam did a butchering course at River Cottage and thoroughly enjoyed it. River Cottage also provides a range of books on topics including mushrooms, smallgoods, bread and many more. Cam’s received a couple of books from River Cottage, and I guess we all get to benefit from the food when he practices on us with the recipes.

In some sense, I’ve enjoyed Hugh’s TV show and also some of the overview of his farming/entertainment operation. Learning a bit about how to incorporate a number of services and make the farm more sustainable can only be a good thing and seeing a variety of operations mean Rach and I can see what works for us and what doesn’t.

Jimmy Doherty

Jimmy’s Farm was a documentary series on the BBC network in the UK. Aired in 2002 or thereabouts, it’s somewhat dated when viewing the series these days. But it is certainly entertaining.

The premise is pretty simple. Jimmy Doherty is a young lad who wants to start his own pig farm. Without any experience, he throws in his PhD research in Entomology, leases some land in the country and jumps right in. Everyone – including his parents – think he’s going to fail.

From the first episode where Jimmy accidentally starts a fire destroying much of his own paddocks and almost destroys his neighbour’s wheat crop, there is always something entertaining going on.

Jimmy makes lots of mistakes, and makes decisions on a whim. It’s really a lesson in what not to do when farming. But his passion for his pigs and the farm is endearing and reinforces the point that one could make farming a success provided enough effort is put in to it.

Since making the original Jimmy’s Farm series, Doherty has created a number of other shows showcasing UK farming. The farm itself appears to be quite successful too – despite the nervous start!

Matthew Evans

The Gourmet Farmer, based in Tasmania. Matthew Evans has taken viewers watching his show on SBS through the process of going to the farm in Tassie after leaving his food critic role in Sydney. I’ve enjoyed watching Matthew’s journey to Cygnet in Tasmania and Fat Pig Farm. Getting to see a much more local farming journey has been really interesting, and Matthew tends to find locals who are good at producing specific types of food or drinks and shares their experience with the viewer. Much like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Matthew often shows the whole process in an episode.

At the same time, I’ve found that Matthew’s temperament and on-screen personality is a bit different to the other two. I like my farming inspirations to be a little quirky, weird and funny while Matthew is not really any of those. Passionate, knowledgeable and keen are probably attributes that can safely label Matthew instead. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy watching his show – he’s just not as enjoyable as the other two.

Notable mentions

Without Foxtel, I’ve only seen an episode or two of Matt Moran’s Paddock to Plate TV show. From what I’ve seen, it’s been a great show exposing local Australian farms to viewers and showing people what can and is being done in the country. I’m hoping to see a bit more in the future.

So there’s a list of my farming inspirations. All of the above are well worth having a look at if you haven’t seen them already. Watching others on their farming journey has made Rach and I interested in creating and sharing some videos of our journey to our own farm. Whether we do that we’re not sure just yet, but if you have an opinion either way please share below!


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