National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

25 January 2013

Wedmore YFC member and dairy farmer James Hole made his television debut last week on Channel 4 in the documentary series First Time Farmers.

The five-part series, which aims to look at all aspects of farming through the eyes of the younger generation, revealed all about James' life in rural Somerset.  

James, who is 26 years old, got involved in the show after the production company visited a Somerset Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs meeting to discuss the concept for the programme and picked him out from the crowd.

“I talked to the production company about what we do as they were a bit green about what farming is about,” explained James who is a naturally outspoken and funny character and was the only person at the meeting that was chosen for the show. “I’m not the world’s best teacher. If I can do it, I think everyone else can as well. Trying to explain to a Londoner how we do it, why we do it and what we do could be frustrating sometimes.”

As a ninth generation farmer on his family farm in Blackford, James works with his dad, uncle and younger brother on their 600 acres, looking after 200 milking cows and rearing heifers.

“Filming wasn’t the easiest thing,” said James who married Alice, a vet and an associate member of Wedmore YFC, during the show’s filming last summer. “It was sometimes difficult to get the perspective of where the producers were coming from. The hardest bit is when they ask you to do something again because they weren’t filming. It was priceless the first time, but you could sell it cheap the second time round.”

As a proud member of Wedmore YFC since he was 14 years old, James invited the film crew down to the County Rally. Unfortunately it didn’t make it into the final edit but James hopes he has represented the Federation well.

“I hold the torch high for Young Farmers,” said James. “Normal education didn’t work very well for me but Young Farmers has helped me to get my NVQ in calf rearing and hedgelaying, the equivalent of an A’Level, and also given me public speaking skills. I know people who have become more confident people through being in Young Farmers.”

And while James has had to campaign recently over milk price cuts he is quick to recognise he is in a stronger position than new entrants to the industry.

“I think there is a future in farming – but it’s a very difficult future if you’re not from a farming background. I am fortunate as we have a strong base of a business that we’re able to work off but even we can’t withstand having huge pay cuts.”

Programmes like First Time Farmer have opened up the conversation about agriculture and the opportunities for young people wishing to break into the industry. Very timely, with the Government currently undertaking a Future of Farming Review –  a drive to get more young people working in the agricultural industry.

During the show, Twitter was active with comments from members and other young people interested in farming.

Hannah Gordon from Staffordshire tweeted during last week’s show: “Best thing on telly by far! It makes a change to see a positive representation of farming in the media. Young farmers do it best!”

James isn’t sure if he could adapt to life as a TV star but he has already been interviewed by a national newspaper.

First Time Farmer is on at 8pm on Channel 4, or catch up online.



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