CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Adam Henson: Question Time

PUBLISHED: 11:51 26 October 2016

Countryfile Live 2016 at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Countryfile Live 2016 at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Candia McKormack

Visitors to the inaugral Countryfile Live event showed a thirst for knowledge and jumped at the chance to ask farmers and producers about their food

The simplest ideas really can make the biggest difference. As I discovered at Countryfile’s first-ever public event, held in the Cotswolds.

It has always impressed me that whatever we buy, there’s almost always someone on hand to answer our questions. Whether it’s a new car, a vacuum cleaner or a set of saucepans, the manufacturers are virtually falling over themselves to give us the information we need. Even booking a holiday or buying music online comes with page after page of reviews and recommendations.

So it’s all the more remarkable that so much fresh food is bought without a second thought being given to answering shoppers’ enquiries about who produced it and where it came from. As a nation I think we’ve become more curious consumers and now we’re certainly more interested in issues like animal welfare, traceability and food miles than we ever have been before. The Red Tractor logo on some British food has tapped in to that desire for knowledge and Farmers’ Markets, like the UK’s first in Bath and the award-winning one in Stroud, have helped link food and farming. But how many shoppers, out buying their weekly groceries, would love to be able to talk directly to the men and women responsible for supplying their meat, fruit, vegetables and cereals? If only there were growers, farmers and producers available in the supermarket aisles ready to discuss farming methods, food production, harvesting, processing and packaging. Of course that just isn’t possible. But we had the nearest thing to it at Blenheim Palace when we staged the inaugural BBC Countryfile Live event.

Our brilliant team from the Cotswold Farm Park had been making plans for the livestock area of the show for months, and with a lot of help from other farmers and breeders, they put on a really impressive display. There were forty four breeds of rare, native and commercial farm animals including pigs, poultry, cattle, sheep, goats and even rabbits. But from the outset we thought the event would also be the perfect opportunity to get farmers and their customers together. ‘Ask the Farmer’ was an ingenious and very straight-forward way of putting UK agriculture to the forefront of shoppers’ minds and getting the message across about some great British produce. So as tens of thousands of people poured into the Duke of Marlborough’s ‘back garden’, I was there with an army of fellow farmers, some from the Cotswolds but many from much further afield, to answer visitors’ questions and queries face to face.

During the four days of the event, we introduced people to almost 300 farmers; all of them responding to questions about their farms, their livelihoods and their role in a very modern agricultural industry. The farmers were divided into their individual sectors; Dairy, Sheep, Beef, Poultry and Pigs. We knew that colour-coding the teams in yellow, red, blue, pink and black would help the public identify them, but I had no idea that their bright, logoed T-shirts would prove such a hit. Pictures of them have been sweeping social media and the Twitter statistics for #AskTheFarmer hit well over 4.7 million impressions. It’s been quite astonishing. I think one weekly agricultural newspaper summed it up perfectly when it pointed out that consumers at the show had displayed a “thirst for knowledge”.

Meanwhile hundreds of people have commented on the way ‘Ask the Farmer’ connected the public directly with the producers. Among them was dairy farmer James Robinson who spent two days with us at Blenheim: “We have a duty to tell our story. We can’t wave goodbye to our produce at the farm gate anymore”. James’ view is spot on and it’s been confirmed that Countryfile Live will be back in 2017. I think we may have started a trend… and not just on Twitter.

Follow Adam on Twitter! @AdamHenson

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One hundred years ago this month the guns fell silent, marking the end of what was to become known as The Great War. Stephen Roberts remembers the impact the war had on Cotswold lives from 1914-1918

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Being a region so steeped in history, there are plenty of locations in the Cotswolds with spooky stories from over the years. From bloody executions, eerie apparitions and headless horsemen, we pick 23 of the most haunted locations throughout the Cotswolds to visit if you dare

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New bat cams installed at Woodchester Mansion help study protected breeds while also becoming an added attraction for visitors. Jo Barber looks at the work of one of the UK’s foremost bat experts and the mansion’s valued volunteers

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From an all-boy, all boarding prep school for just 30 pupils, to the quietly trailblazing yet still traditional school it is today – here is a snapshot of Beaudesert over its 110-year history

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Of all the castles in the region, none have seen as much war, romance and royalty as Sudeley over its dramatic 1,000-year history. And with such a colourful and eventful past, it is easy to see why some people believe there could be spirits from bygone eras which still wander the halls and corridors to this day

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Following a record year for ‘visitor giving’ donations via local businesses, applications are invited to fund conservation projects

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

What started as a business ploy by one Cotswold firm has developed into an inspirational garden

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

If a bit of English eccentricity is your thing, spend an enjoyable afternoon exploring the delightful follies of Faringdon

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

Visitors to the village of Bourton-on-the-Water can now escape the well-trodden tourist trail at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s beautiful Greystones nature reserve and its newly opened visitor centre

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search