Adam Henson may be beamed into living rooms on Countryfile every Sunday night, earning himself a wider presenting portfolio and a modicum of fame in the process, but in his heart he’ll always be just an ordinary farmer trying to make a living on his tenanted farm in Gloucestershire.
Which is why he’s so keen to help other farmers in his latest Channel 5 farming show Our Family Farm Rescue. The four-part series sees Adam lend his entrepreneurial expertise to four struggling farming families across the UK, as they risk everything to save their farms with money-making ideas ranging from alpaca trekking to glamping pods.
Here's everything we know about Our Family Farm Rescue and an exclusive chat with Adam Henson, who reveals more about the current financial struggles facing farmers, what he makes of Jeremy Clarkson’s latest farming venture and why he still struggles with the idea of fame…
Our Family Farm Rescue release date
Our Family Farm Rescue with Adam Henson is 4-part series running on Channel 5 from Tuesday 20 July at 9pm. The show will later become available on streaming service My5.
Adam Henson on why he's excited about Our Family Farm Rescue
Adam Henson says: "Farming isn’t easy — 68 per cent of farmers have had to diversify because they can’t make money out of straight farming and a number of family farms are really struggling across the UK. My dad opened the Cotswold Farm Park, our rare breeds centre, in 1971, and I’ve been brought up with farm diversification and thinking fairly entrepreneurially in terms of improving income streams.
"We’ve got an awful lot going on on our farm, so to have the opportunity to meet some other farmers and advise and guide and encourage them when it comes to diversification was something I was genuinely interested in. It’s been an exciting project!"
Adam on the four farming families he meets…
Adam says: "They’re all livestock farmers and they’re all struggling financially. But they’ve all got different ideas of how they can take their businesses forward, from alpaca trekking to setting up a smokery. So for the first episode I’m in Greater Manchester with cattle farmers Ian and Karen.
"Ian’s quite set in his ways and not a great one for wanting change, but even though they’re approaching retirement Karen still gets up at 2am to do a local milk delivery! They have a beautiful stone barn that I’ve encouraged them to turn into a wellness venue. You’ve got to be brave to diversify, though, as it takes quite a bit of investment."
Adam on the financial challenges faced by the families
Adam says: "In Wales I meet Iwan and Katrina, who are long-term beef and sheep farmers. They borrow a significant amount of money and decide to go into glamping, but while we were filming they had lots of problems with Covid and their loans. I still think they’ll end up making an awful lot more money in glamping than out of sheep, though!"
Adam on touching mental health issues in farming in one episode…
Adam Henson: "Yes, there’s a huge amount of trouble in farming at the moment with mental illness, and suicide is quite prevalent, too, which is horrible. In Scotland I meet James, whose father recently died, and James suddenly found himself having to run the family farm by himself. He really struggled and began to suffer both financially and mentally and ended up in hospital feeling suicidal. It’s a really emotional episode following him and his partner, Karen, as they try to turn their business around selling their wonderful beef and lamb products straight to the consumer."
Adam on why there’s such an appetite for farming programmes at the moment?
Adam Henson says: "I think Countryfile has been such a huge success that other programme producers have seen how it gets five and a half or six millions viewers a week and thought, ‘we could do that!’ So yes, now you’ve got Our Yorkshire Farm, Springtime on the Farm, and 101 different farming programmes. They’re all slightly different, but there’s definitely an appetite from the general public to watch them. We’re all very conscious about climate change and the environment at the moment, so there’s this hunger to learn about the great outdoors and farming and where food comes from, which as a farmer is music to my ears!"
Adam on watching any other farming shows
Adam Says: "I’ve watched a bit of Jeremy Clarkson’s show, Clarkson's Farm on Amazon Prime, it’s absolutely hysterical! But he does show how complicated and difficult and expensive it is to run a farm. My family gets a bit bored of me watching farming shows, though, so I tend to watch them while they’re out. Otherwise, I normally watch gritty crime dramas like Line of Duty and Unforgotten."
Adam on unwinding from juggling his farming and presenting hats
Adam says: "It’s also the old adage of ‘there’s no place like home’ that rings true for me. I really love being at home and going for walks with the dogs, the family and my partner, Charlie. I’m just so lucky to live and work in such a spectacular environment."
How Adam thinks Countryfile has changed him
Adam says: "I get recognised all the time, which is still really weird even after 10 years, and I still have to pinch myself. But people are always so friendly and they treat me like a friend, I suppose because I’m in their living room every Sunday. So I get lots of kind comments, but I also get some constructive criticism, too, which is fine — we’ve all got to keep on learning! The media world is very fickle, though, and I know they’ll drop me one of these days. But I’ll just get back to being a farmer full time, which is fine by me. I’ve always been just a normal farmer really — it’s what’s written on my passport!"
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