A few days in the life of a LEAF Demonstration Farmer

Robert Kynaston Nature of Farming winnerGuest post from Rob Kynaston. Rob farms Great Wollaston Farm, a 240 acre mixed family farm in Shropshire. He joined LEAF in 1999, became a Demonstration Farmer in 2002 and is now LEAF’s Vice-Chairman.

Three visits in three days plus other things to stop me farming, apart from the weather.

Harper Adams sustainable farming MSc students with Martin Hare.

Harper Adams sustainable farming MSc students with Martin Hare.

Let’s start on a Friday just over a week ago. 5 students studying sustainable farming MSc and a lecturer from Harper Adams University came for a look at how Integrated Farm Management and sustainability worked together. It was a dry day but very wet under foot, in common with the rest of the country. The discussion revolved around modern farming and its reliance on finite resources and how to change.

Humans have been farming for about 10,000 years and for all but about the last 100 years have been sustainable; that is pretty well farming using only renewable resources. I must admit I also said that when the real problems start I will be dead and turning to humus. But perhaps not; for the following reason!

The weekend. This was taken up with celebrations for my Dad’s 90th birthday. He has slowed up and does not now help out on the farm which I take to be slacking. His mother lived to be 107 and her grandmother also lived to be over 100. So I might have a bit of time to run barring the dangers of farming.

Monday. I am meant to have a visit by Welsh farmers that are interested in environmental farming methods. But there aren’t any! Well there are, but like welsh sheep on tack (paying guests), you can never get more than 3 in one place. So it has been postponed until the organiser can get a good dog to round up a sizable bunch. This new found free time allows me to do something more than just milking and feeding, so I go wild and trim some cows’ feet.


Representation of A level students trying to thaw out after a farm walk

Representation of A level students trying to thaw out after a farm walk

Tuesday. An educational visit by A level Geography students looking at land use, resources and farming now and in the past. That bit I liked because I could do my ‘when I were a lad…’. Unfortunately it was a bitterly cold day and like most teenagers they had dressed for style rather than the weather. I did the walk in record time to return to the meeting room heated by logs from the farm. Again the discussion came down to the use of finite resources for everything we all do, and what the future holds if we, as in everyone, do not change how we consume. I am beginning to feel like a stuck record.

Wednesday. And now for different locations; I talk from time to time on Cross Compliance regulations around the West Midlands and on this day I had not one but two Green Futures meetings. One in the afternoon at Stoneleigh, which was snowed off a few weeks ago, and an evening session at Hawford by Worcester. It was snowing again but it was decided to press on. I met the lovely Donna from CLA who was also speaking and drove to Stoneleigh through swirling snow. The other speakers from Environment Agency, Natural England and NFU made it as did over 50 farmers. We then moved on to Hawford for the evening and the performance was repeated to a new group of farmers.

Thursday. I decided to have some time off (?) and go to Energy Now at Telford to look into biomass boilers; but wished I had stayed at home. That is another story!

Other posts featuring Rob Kynaston:


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