It has been months since I wrote on this blog, something that has been difficult to swallow, for it was here that I began publically thinking about and discussing issues connected with the countryside in the first place, almost seven years ago. I have titled this post ‘writer’s block’ but that hasn’t been the reason for silence – far from it, there has been an overload of topics to discuss this year. The difficulty has been fitting writing in on top of my other commitments – both new and existing – and my writing has, regrettably, suffered as a result. To try and rectify this I have begun a course in freelance and feature writing with the London School of Journalism and I look forward to increasing my writing and research output in 2021, perhaps returning to the essence of where I started in 2013.
2020 has been a year unlike any other. Personally I have had a year of turbulence, but a lot of positive to draw from it. I have rarely been busier in terms of work and podcasting especially has pushed to a whole new level. I hadn’t predicted that in 2020 I would begin making and presenting podcasts for a number of new clients, and learning new skills when it comes to audio production. With this in mind I am excited where the future of rural communications is going, and this was echoed in comments last night when I recorded a podcast with Jane Craigie of Jane Craigie Marketing. I believe we have only scraped the surface when it comes to the ability of rural businesses getting their messages across and strengthening the rural voice and story.
On the farm we faced the most difficult growing year in my memory, with a wet winter resulting in almost exclusive spring cropping and then a dry spring leading to in further complications. Further, pollination of our sea buckthorn crop was impacted by strong winds in March, resulting in a disastrous harvest. All in all, I won’t be sorry to see the back of 2020. This said, we were able to establish a new outdoor gym and activity centre on the farm (Thrive Outdoor’s Wild Gym) which, despite complications with lockdowns and COVID has been a great addition to the farm. I want to focus on food, conservation and community on the farm and this pushed us miles forward when it comes to the community wing, especially giving families in the area something that bit different, getting kids outdoors and getting back to basics.
On the horizon is Brexit and, over seven years, a transition to a new agricultural policy framework in the UK which will transform the agricultural world, and indeed, potentially the landscape itself. We are (still!) yet to see the detail on what the transition will look like and your guess is as good as mine when it comes to the impact of Brexit on the marketplace, but one thing is for sure at the moment and that is that uncertainty is the word of the day.