Hello, I’m Chris Kneale a neighbour of and friends with Al and Rach and this week’s guest blogger!
I am involved in the Agricultural industry, farming, diversifying into alternative crops (Quinoa) and running my own “Rural Business Consultancy” business following 8 years as the Governments Senior Agricultural Advisor. As a result, I am lucky to work with some exceptional Island people – Farmers!
Last weekend, at the Islands food and drink showcase event the “Food and Drink Festival” the organisers celebrated 10 years with guest celebrity and farmer “Adam Henson” who presents for the BBC primarily on the rural news programme “Countryfile”. I was honoured to have been asked to look after Adam during his time on the Island visiting four of our Islands Farmers and ensuring he was at the right place at the right time at the food and drink festival.
WOW, I had a brilliant and inspiring time with Adam as it was quickly apparent that he is a true farmer at heart and we got along so well that everyone thought we were brothers! From spending a couple of days with Adam it was clear that like all farmers, he had a real grasp of the important role farming plays contributing to community, contributing economically and the role the farming industry plays in ensuring the environment is well looked after. The three areas go hand in hand and I feel are all equal as without one the others will struggle.
Throughout the weekend, from visiting farmers to speaking with producers at the Food and Drink festival three things Adam said have stuck with me, “what fantastic farmers you have”, “The Isle of Man Food and Drink Industry has so much to shout about” and “Celebrate the Positives”. I think sometimes we are all too often guilty of working hard and trying to fit so much in that we forget to take stock of things we take for granted.
Family, heritage, community, business and environment were the five main themes that shone through for me over the weekend. The people and the businesses that I introduced Adam to were clearly about family and building on that family heritage to create a business even if they don’t always realise it. They were engaged in the community and that was clear to see behind the scenes at the Food and Drink festival whilst developing and doing business. It was also evident at the combined Manx National Farmers Union and Young Farmers charity auction and fundraiser evening on the Friday night which was a great celebration of the rural community – well done to all involved that made it happen.
This to me is what the Biosphere is about, and it wasn’t until I listened to Adam and I put all these things together that I thought I starting to finally understand what being part of the Biosphere means to me! For me it’s not solely about protecting wild life and preventing change its about enhancing our lives, the environment, good business, embracing change and celebrating the place we all call home.
I am still smiling from the weekend, Adam was a farmer who also did a bit of TV work and he recognised the value of family life, good business and looking after the environment. He is passionate about educating people especially children on food and the environment and how important good food, food safety, the environment relies upon profitable farming. Without profitable farming, corners get cut, conservation efforts reduced and the social fabric of community life declines.
I think we have some fantastic farmers and businesses on the Island; amazing locally produced food and we all live in such a beautiful place. Fingers crossed Adam will return with the BBC film cameras!
A big thank you to Al and Rach for asking me to contribute to Farmer Al’s weekly blog, let them know if you’ve found it interesting and maybe they will ask me again!
A short clip of the Friday travelling around with Adam meeting some of the Islands farmers can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eR2dtYFAhPY&feature=youtu.be