Farm lifeAgriculture & Food, Asides
I’ve just applied to go on a programme called “Farm Life”. I figured the answers were quite interesting (especially if contrasted with Ali’s).
EXPLAIN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CO-APPLICANT.
Ali and I have been going out for about a year now. She’s lovely. Such a great friend and ally to have in this adventure. We compliment (and complement) each other well. We think alike, yet sufficiently differently to make a good team.
WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION? PLEASE DESCRIBE:
I help clients make better use of the internet to perform their business. Mainly this means building websites or pointing them in the right direction; but more interestingly also means things like building web applications to do clever things and process information, and to help them adapt their business models to better suit the internet market.
I designed the application which helps London manage its emergencies, for example. That was fun.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN FIRED?
No. But I do also ensure I only do good things for good people.
WHAT MAKES YOU THINK YOU’RE RIGHT FOR THIS PROGRAMME? PLEASE EXPLAIN ANY HOBBIES, EMPLOYMENT OR EXPERIENCE YOU THINK MIGHT INTEREST US.
I’d like to run a small farm, and I think you’d could have fun in the edit suite with me. There’s enough in what I say to make me sound like a public school idiot or a renaissance zen genius.
My hobbies are generally learning and thinking, perhaps whilst out for bike ride or a run.
I hold a world record for the fastest time across the Channel in a dragon boat.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT THE RURAL LIFE?
Birdsong. And simple chaos. It’s a beautiful complex system obeying such simple rules. It’s so elegant. Violent yet serene, hostile yet welcoming, thrifty yet abundant. I think the more we can live in the way we’ve evolved to live, the happier we will be. Living from the earth makes me happy.
WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECTS OF RUNNING A FARM?
Working when it’s cold and dark. I’m not so good under those conditions. But as trade-offs go, it’s pretty good. I used to cycle across London to get to work when it was cold and wet, so I’d rather be in those conditions on a farm than.. well anywhere.
IS THERE AN ASPECT OF OWNING A FARM THAT PARTICULARLY APPEALS TO YOU?
Mind and body working in harmony to accomplish the same goal. Farm life is pretty much the very definition of the experience one feels when in “the zone”. Using wisdom, judgement, and insight to do the right thing at the right time to make the biggest difference.
Of course, right now I’m pretty naive and unaware of what the “right thing” to do is, but I’ll learn.
HAVE YOU EVER LIVED ON A SMALLHOLDING OR FARM BEFORE?
No, but I grew up in the country so have been mucking out horses, wielding chainsaws, and butchering roadkill since I was about 7. I have always sought out the country life, and we are currently living in a barn in the French Pyrenees, teaching ourselves the practicalities of permaculture.
DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD BE GOOD AT THE BUSINESS SIDE OF RUNNING A FARM? IF SO, WHY?
I think that very much depends on the type of farm and the type of market we’re operating in; and if our goals are to maximise profits, or simply stay healthy and in business.
I’d like to think I have the wherewithal to work out a lot of it, but also the wisdom to realise there is a huge amount I know I don’t know.
IN AN IDEAL WORLD, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE THE FARM’S CORE BUSINESS TO BE? I.E. PIG REARING / APPLE ORCHARDS / FREE RANGE EGGS.
In an ideal world, I’d like for there not to be a ‘core’ business. It seems to me that farms have the opportunity to be an excellent model of resilient efficiency where outputs become inputs, waste is minimised, land use optimised, and as much as possible is producing as much as possible for as much as possible of the year.
So in an ideal world, I’d like to demonstrate that permaculture can be run at a farm scale, and provide a working model for small farmers facing changing times.
WHAT ARE YOUR AMBITIONS?
Hell, I’ve rather blown my load on that previous question! My ambitions are simple: live a nice simple life, sustainably and in keeping with my ethics, and work to help others achieve the same. It strikes me as a colossal tragedy that although we have come so far and accomplished so much as a species, and have such incredible intelligence and capabilities, and yet we seem to be content to rest with the most inefficient, poorly designed systems to underpin our societies. We have a huge gap between ‘what we do’ and ‘what we know to be the smarter way’. Our whole world is permeated with unbelievably weak answers to very simple problems. It’s embarrassing.
I’d like to help tidy up.
WHOSE OR WHAT JOB WOULD YOU MOST LIKE?
I’d like to be the Chinese Premier. Imagine the difference you could make to the future of the world. HUGE. Absolutely HUGE. And because it’s not really very democratic, that better future can begin right now – no messing about, just pure action. 1.3bn people working for good. EPIC. That’s a LOT of scientists working on solar power and algae systems.
ARE YOU A VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN?
No, but I don’t eat a lot of meat. If buying meat I try to buy only from sources I trust to be local and well cherished.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING PART OF A PROCESS WHICH INVOLVES THE SLAUGHTER OF ANIMALS FOR FOOD?
In principle, not a problem at all. I eat meat and have killed and butchered animals myself, so it’s just the same. If it’s a battery farm, for example, or the conditions are clearly not as good a they should be, then it’s very uncool. I doubt you’d be filming such conditions though, so I suspect we’re good.
IF SELECTED YOU WILL HAVE TO SPEND UP TO 6 WEEKS AWAY FROM HOME, LIVING WITH YOUR CO-‐APPLICANT IN A CARAVAN. THE OTHER CONTRIBUTORS WILL ALSO BE LIVING NEARBY. HOW DO YOU THINK YOU WILL COPE WITH THIS?
I boarded at public school, so spent 5 years doing much the same. I suspect it will be quite good fun – living closely with other people in the past always has been.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD COPE WITH BEING CONSTANTLY FILMED FOR UP TO 6 WEEKS?
I’m expecting it to be a little peculiar for a few days, getting slightly paranoid and then spinning out on the concept once or twice (I mean, a team of people, filming everything, for 6 weeks? What a weirdly awesome planet!) but after that I’m guessing they’ll just fade into the background.
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WILL FIND MOST DIFFICULT ABOUT BEING AWAY FROM HOME FOR UP TO 6 WEEKS?
Missing my own garden. I’ve lived away from home a lot, but only recently have I had a garden.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CHARACTER? HOW WOULD OTHERS DESCRIBE YOU?
Normally this is a really difficult question, but I did a Johari experiment about 18 months ago so have the answers!
I’d describe myself as competent, idealistic, ingenious, logical, trustworthy, and generally quite relaxed.
Others would add energetic, independent, spontaneous, helpful, and intelligent.
ARE YOU A TEAM PLAYER OR DO YOU WORK BEST WORK ALONE?
That depends on the job. If it’s something for one person, I’m good on my own. If it’s a task which is better accomplished by more than one person, or made more fun to be working together, then team up.
WHAT RELEVANT TV PROGRAMMES DO YOU WATCH?
Very few. We don’t own a TV so, not much. “The Edible Gardener” is probably the only relevant thing we’ve watched of late.