Somewhere Over the Atlantic

May 25th, 2016

Despite travelling to 10 countries throughout March and April on my Global Focus Programme (and with the seven guys who made that trip so memorable), today I feel like my Nuffield Scholarship is only just getting started.

This is the beginning of my solo adventure, my individual study of how farming issues are communicated in the news media. I am heading for Chicago where I will hire a car and drive out West to farms and newsrooms in Illinois, Iowa and South Dakota. I’m going to meet the people who produce the food – that’s arable and livestock – and the people who report the news on newspapers, TV and radio.

In between meetings I have vowed to consume as much news as I can. I don’t care how many times I have to hear Trump’s voice or how many infuriating commercials I’m forced to endure. I will do this in the name of Nuffield!

So what have I been doing since returning home from the GFP? Aside from feeling a little shell-shocked and lost? Seriously, it took some time to re-adjust to normal life without the routine of the Countryfile rota. The office job structure has gone out of the window and, suddenly, working hours are ALL hours. It’s like being a farmer!

To help me navigate this brave new world I visited my Nuffield mentor Nic Snell at his business Certainly Wood in Herefordshire. This former fruit farm now deals in firewood. About 15 years ago Nic and his brother George had a genius, Dragon’s Den-style idea to kiln-dry hard wood and sell it people with log burners. Everyone wants a cosy log burner these days and the business expanded rapidly. They’re now drying 20,000 tonnes of sustainably-sourced British timber a year, producing logs, kindling and natural firelighters called ‘Flamers’ (a great alternative to those stinky, squeaky polystyrene-like things).

Anyway, Nic and I had a look around the yard (still on the site of the family farm) and chatted about Nuffield. He had a useful piece of advice for me – write shorter blogs more frequently. He is absolutely right so, in the spirit of Nic’s tip, I am signing off from the skies over Newfoundland.

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