Known as Farmer Tom, Tom Martin is the co-founder of FaceTime a Farmer, and farms cereals and sheep in north-west Cambridgeshire
Before answering the call of the land, I spent 10 years working in an office in London, and the friends I gathered there are among the best a man could wish for. These are, in many cases, people of influence, occupying high- powered roles, they’re clever… but don’t half believe some rubbish when it comes to where their food comes from.
I am told all manner of things, and regularly see videos of pigs, filmed in the dead of night, squealing in terror. I, of course, reply that if anyone found masked strangers in their house
in the middle of the night running around and shining torches in their face, they would be a little afraid too.
Those same pigs, when visited in the light of day in the company of the farmer, are lucky enough to be part of a highly regulated system in a country that is one of only four graded ‘A’ on the World Animal Protection’s global index.
You see, when people are removed from the truth, and their perception of the world is formed through social media newsfeeds and anthropomorphic hoardings on the London Underground, they can develop an outrageously warped perception of reality, and it is this ‘reality’ that affects how they lobby government – and how they vote politically – and informs their buying decisions – how they vote with their money.
Our challenge at a time when we need the public on side more than ever, is to share the truth of a food production system that they can be proud of – world-leading standards, and our first class stewardship of the nation’s rural heritage.
Some years ago, on our farm, we launched a programme called FaceTime a Farmer, where we link with a school some 200 miles away, and video call them, using FaceTime or Skype once a fortnight.
The teacher lets us know what the children have been studying in class – weather, pollinators, genetics, life cycles – and we position ourselves somewhere on the farm that links to that. There ensues a 10- to 15-minute interactive conversation, with some fantastic questions, and an opportunity for the children to see, live on screen, a real farmer, on a real farm, with real livestock and/ or crops. In short, the living truth straight from the horse’s mouth… or the farmer’s.
This project is now running nationwide, with 300 farmers already linked to their own classroom, and around 9,000 children paired to real farmers. And I wonder, would you join us? It’s free, fun, and just requires a smartphone with some mobile reception and 10 minutes of your time every other week. See www.FacetimeaFarmer.com – you can sign up there too!