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What does it take to be a…Farmer? By Jimmy Doherty

Suffolk farmer Jimmy Doherty captured the nation’s imagination with his show, Jimmy’s Farm, sharing the world of his family-owned Essex Pig Company. This month, he opens the gates for Jimmy’s Harvest Festival of Sausages and Beer on 23-24 July. We chatted with him about life on the land


What’s the story behind the Festival of Sausages and Beer?

We started the festivals ten years ago and they’ve grown bigger and bigger naturally. We have a permanent infrastructure with the farm and everything else has just grown around it. It’s also extremely good fun and an excuse to have a party!

Give us a flavour of what’s going to be happening, and who’s coming?

People have a passion for great food when it’s combined with a festival. I think it’s in our social psyche and county shows play a part in this, but when you combine music and food it takes on a whole new form.

We’ve got all sorts going on at the farm with the animal park open, a wandering theatre group, plus JB Gill from JLS on the farm too – ticket sales have been flying! There’s also a rare breed pig show and sheep shearing, so plenty of traditional farming entertainment, a great big food market area and, of course, an array of sausages and beer. We’ve got an acoustic stage in the garden, and on the main stage Chas & Dave will be appearing, it’s going to be fantastic.

What’s it like to be a modern man of the land?

The whole celebrity chef thing has been massive but there’s been a leap from just cooking food to looking at the origin of food. People are more in tune with where their food comes from. We can see this in the rise of farmers’ markets, gastro pubs and street food too.

Supermarkets are disengaged from the process of where food comes from, but when you shop at a butcher, fishmonger or greengrocer you can find out about its origins. Increasingly, people want a shopping experience that includes an education and even a bit of entertainment too!

My anchor is the farm, it keeps my feet on the ground.”

I constantly drive my wife and general manager mad because I come back from doing television shows and travelling around with big ideas. I’ll want to put in an apiary or try aquaponics on the farm, but it’s the perfect blend.

What can we do to support UK farming?

Always source locally and buy British where you can. Often the person making the cereal earns less than the person who designs the packet, and farmers are operating on really small margins, so look for the Union Jack and support growers direct.

To find out more about Jimmy’s Harvest Festival of Sausages and Beer on 23-24 July, visit jimmysfestival.co.uk


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