by Rebecca Hadaway - The Prince's Countryside Fund
At Le Chameau, we are proud to be on the feet of many farmers across the world and even more proud to support the work of The Price’s Countryside Fund (PCF). Read on to hear about some UK farmers giving back to their local community, and how The Prince’s Countryside Fund support our rural communities to continue with their incredible work and way of life.
Farmers are the backbone of our rural communities. They support in ways big and small – from volunteering at the local sports club, maintaining public footpaths, coordinating village activities, or clearing the roads in bad weather. Often, farmers contribution to rural life can go unnoticed, but without them, our rural communities would look and operate very differently. They are the beating heart of our countryside.
Meet some of the many incredible farmers working across the UK to ensure their community not only survives; but thrives. Hear about the joys of working in farming, how proud they are to be a part of, and serve, their rural community, and their efforts to share and spread their passion for food production with others. We have so much to thank our farmers for – read on to find out how some of the PCF farmers are making a difference.
Sam is a fifth generation farmer from Knutsford, Cheshire. His love for agriculture began at a very young age – in fact he was out on the family farm from the moment he could put his own wellies on! Sam started breeding Hereford cattle at the age of 11 – and he now has a 15-strong herd of his own.
As well as being a farmer, and working full time at a local farm park, Sam volunteers on the council for the Royal Cheshire Show and sits on the sub-committee for the show’s Agri-centre. Sam explains: “Giving back to the community is really important to me – not only organising the show from a practical standpoint; but sharing my personal knowledge and experience of farming with the visitors too. The show is a fantastic platform to teach young people about where their food comes from and the excellent farming standards we have here in the UK.
My favourite part of volunteering is seeing young people from an inner-city background meet a cow or sheep for the first time. It sounds unbelievable but a lot of children who come to the show on a school trip have never been out into the countryside. The joy in their eyes is infectious and I find it incredibly humbling”.
Sam is a keen Youtuber – and feels a strong sense of social responsibility to ensure his content accurately reflects his life as a farmer. “I want my channels to be educational, interesting and factual – it’s amazing how many people you can reach, and it does change how people view the sector”.
Finally, Sam presents on local Cheshire radio – teaching a non-farming audience about some of the topical issues in the industry.
When asked why he does so much for the community (and how he as any time left for himself!), Sam replied: “ultimately, I love what I do. But it’s more than that - farmers play such a key role in the community, from volunteering, to clearing roads, to being on the local sports council, and it’s so important members of the public know about it. Even as one person I feel I can make a difference. The rural community relies on farmers – which is why I am so proud to be one!”
Victoria & Chris Eveleigh
Victoria and Chris run an Exmoor Hill Farm near Lynmouth, Devon. They raise pedigree Exmoor Horn sheep both for meat and wool, and have in recent years diversified to offer farm tours for tourists and school children. Hill farming is notoriously difficult, but as a result there is a tight-knit community of both farmers and rural residents that support each other when times are tough.
Both Victoria and Chirs care for the community in a number of ways. Victoria explains: “Chris is a director of the Exmoor Hill Farming Network and I have been on various committees over the years, from The Friends of Lynton Library to the Exmoor Pony Festival. Supporting others in our community gives us friendship and a sense of belonging. Communities are all about helping others and being helped in return.
In recent years, we have started to provide farm tours for visitors, which is a great way to engage the public and wider community with what we do here. The tours also contribute towards the diversity of activities for holidaymakers and locals, bringing in money for the rural economy”.
Victoria and Chris also mention the ‘little things’ that often go unnoticed but are so important in a rural location: “When it snows, we clear the drifts in the lanes and do the shopping for elderly residents who don’t have four-wheel-drive vehicles. Sadly, there are so few working farmers with tractors left in our valley that there’s a lot to do when it snows!”
When asked why they do so much, the couple explained: “It’s what communities are all about! Small things matter; and helping each other will be even more important in the challenging times ahead”.
Sophie is the owner of Bow in the Cloud vineyard, a family start-up business in rural Malmesbury, Wiltshire. Following the passing of her father in 2018, Sophie decided to develop it into a community business – with a lot of support from local people.
“I honestly don’t believe I would’ve survived without the community here, without people to volunteer, to come on farm and help me. Following my dad’s passing, the vineyard wasn’t in a good state – there was a lot of work to do. He had never opened it up to the public before, but I knew that in order to thrive, the business needed to be a local business.”
Sophie welcomes volunteers onto the vineyard to help with day to day management of the vines and, importantly, harvesting. She explains: “It’s a great way for local people to meet one another, form friendships and a support network, and that’s so nice to see. People keep coming back, and they tell me of the benefits that being outside, working with others, has on their mental health. It’s hugely encouraging and tells me I’m going in the right direction”.
The vineyard offers space and facilities for local groups to meet and socialise, including a local church group and carnival open day. “I have a responsibility to give back to the community in any way I can”, explains Sophie. “These groups have done so much to help me – it’s small thing I can do to make a difference”.
Sophie continues: “I think as farmers we have a social responsibility to engage our communities – I want to ensure they support what I am doing and encourage them to be involved. I am so lucky to have space and facilities and I feel very strongly about sharing it all with my community.”
When asked why she feels so strongly about ensuring the community feel connected to the business, Sophie explained: “It’s not tokenism – the people here have genuinely made a huge difference to me. We have a mutual relationship – they assist me with practical things, and in return they feel a real connection to the vineyard, to their fellow volunteers, and to us as a family. Community is about supporting one another – and I think Bow in the Cloud really helps to bring people together”.
About The Prince’s Countryside Fund
The PCF is the only UK-wide charity that empowers family farms and rural communities to ensure their future. Over the past decade, the PCF has invested more than £10 million to over 400 projects working across the UK which improve service provision in rural areas, support farming businesses and rural enterprises, and provide training opportunities for young people. In addition, they’ve supported nearly 1000 farming families to take charge of their business through the Farm Resilience Programme, and working with their Farm Support Group Initiative, helped countless others to access local support when it’s needed most.
The countryside, what it does, what it produces and what it offers, has an impact on us all. The PCF wishes to see a thriving countryside – a living, breathing, working place that it is there for everyone. In July 2021, the PCF partnered with Le Chameau – a brand that closely shares the charity’s vision of a sustainable countryside and farming sector.