Celebrity farmer Jimmy Doherty to help farmers diversify

Jimmy Doherty, famous for being on-screen with chef Jamie Oliver, will help farmers diversify
Jimmy Doherty, famous for being on-screen with chef Jamie Oliver, will help farmers diversify

Celebrity farmer Jimmy Doherty will be investigating different ways farmers can plan diversification activities to support their farms after Brexit.

With Brexit approaching and changes to farm support looming, farmers are considering how to future proof their farms.

For some, diversification into non-farming activities offers a lifeline to keep the farm viable and provide opportunities for family members to work in the business.

In a series of five videos in collaboration with NFU Mutual, Jimmy Doherty, one of the UK’s best known farmers, will be investigating different aspects of planning and running a diversification enterprise alongside farming activities.

Mr Doherty took on 100 acres of run-down land in Suffolk and over a decade has developed a successful diversified farm which includes an award-winning restaurant, a nature trail, an a butterfly house.

He also holds numerous science and food festivals throughout the year.

'Impressive skillset'

Mr Doherty said that if farmers have confidence in their abilities, then the opportunities to diversify are endless.

“Farmers already have a wide and impressive skillset, I don’t know many people who can turn their hands to such a range of activities,” he said.

“At Jimmy’s Farm, we’ve done everything – from rearing rare breed animals to hosting educational visits – but have had particular success with running events, such as weddings and festivals.

“My experience developing a visitor attraction and wedding venue has taught me that unless you have vast amounts of money, you can’t set up an all-singing, all-dancing wedding venue or festival straight away.

He added: “Running an events space is a big commitment and responsibility and to have long-term success, your events need to be consistently special and run without a hitch, or your customers will leave dissatisfied.”

Mr Doherty recommends farmers start planning by walking round their farm with a notebook to identify buildings, land and natural features which could lend themselves to a public-facing diversification.