Mar 21, 2018
Tonight I'm delighted to be heading up to Malham in the Yorkshire Dales to talk to beef and sheep farmer, Neil Heseltine.
And yes, first of all we start off talking about how a rugby playing upland farmer called Neil ended up with the slightly confusing twitter handle of @hilltopfarmgirl ;-)
After clearing that up though, we move on to talk about the farm that his family have been at for several generations, hilltopmalham.co.uk and the challenges of farming at 1200-1800ft above sea level, as well as discussing his early life and his time studying agriculture at Seale Hayne in Devon.
We talk about his return to the family farm, and the changed he's made since, including the reintroduction of cattle, the traditional British Breed of Belted Galloway, some of their characteristics, and the reasons behind that decision. We also chat about the Pasture Fed Livestock Association and how they're producing meat more sustainably from grass.
We talk about how they reduced their Swaledale sheep numbers from a high of 800 to 200, and how their entire farming system is now based around the natural environment, which has seen flora and fauna, hares, and birds such as lapwings and curlews return to the farm.
Neil tells us about the Nature Friendly Farmers Network, the recent surge of interest there's been in this relatively new organisation, and why he believes that increased focus on the environment in farming can lead to a more sustainable and profitable business.
We talk about the importance of selling their produce locally, and the social and community aspect of this, before moving on to talk about some of the scepticism he's encountered with regard to his way of farming.
We also discuss mental health in the farming industry, and how we must address the terrible accidental death and suicide statistics that are the largest of any industry in the UK.
All this and much more. Neil's a great guy, farming in a really interesting way, and it was an absolute privilege to get to know him better tonight. Check it out folks..