Fraser Valley Veggies

Clarkson’s Farm – The Absurdity

I just finished watching season two of the Amazon show Clarkson’s Farm and I’ve got some thoughts.

I will open with the admission that I only know the story of Clarkson’s Farm as told by Jeremy Clarkson on his Amazon tv show. I do not know what motivates the local council.

Let’s start at the start of season two of Clarkson’s Farm. Britain has recently left the European Union, you know that Brexit thing, and the farmers of Britain will no longer receive EU subsidies to help keep their farms profitable.

It seems that farming in Great Britain is not a particularly profitable enterprise. Once the subsidies stopped, the farmers asked their government how they are supposed to keep farming – how are they supposed to keep producing tghe food that the people of Britain need.

The government told them to “diversify”. So that is basically what Jeremy Clarkson of Clarkson’s Farm tried to do.

First, Clarkson applied for a permit to open a vegetable stand on his farm – a farm-gate sales business so that he could cut the middleman out of the action and have customers come to the farm to buy produce.

He was allowed to do that as long as the produce and goods sold in the shop was locally produced. So they brought in bread from a local bakery, milk products from a local dairy, and had loads of produce from their own farm.

However, customers were not allowed to park along the public roads. So he let cars park on the Clarkson’s Farm property.

Not allowed. And, he was not allowed to have a green metal roof on his shop. It had to be slate. To add a slate roof they basically had to take the roof off the shop and rebuild all the trusses. They did it.

But no parking. Of course his farm is in a rural farming area so there are no walk-by customers. The no parking essentially kills the business.

Next move, he decides to get beef cows. Unknown to him, there are countless badgers living all around the area of Clarkson’s Farm and badgers carry and transmit TB to cows.

You might think that they would try to get rid of the badgers. Oh no. Badgers are a protected species and if someone is convicted of killing a badger they are liable to be fined 10K pounds and spend up to a year in jail.

Instead, the government has spent something like 150 million pounds culling the herds of cows infected with TB.

Clarkson does the math on raising beef and realizes that raising beef to sell to a slaughterhouse is not a moneymaker for a farm. However, if he can sell his beef in a restaurant on his farm, then he can earn 10 times the value that he would receive from the slaughterhouse.

He also reaches out to his neighbouring farmers and connects with a farmer who grows “wonky” veggies – misshapen veggies. The grocery stores sell their wonky veggies at a steep discount, even though it costs the farmers the same to grow wonky veggies as it does to grow “normal” looking veggies. They agree to partner with Clarkson.

Same with the pig farmer who can’t sell their pork because the pork imported from Europe sells significantly below the price that the local farmers can even raise their pork for. Remember, the farmers in the EU are still receiving farm subsidies. British farmers – no more subsidies.

Same thing with a poultry farmer who can supply chickens and turkeys. Dairy farmer who can supply milk and cheese.

Clarkson’s restaurant idea becomes an incredible opportunity to support many of the local farms and farmers. There would also be spin-off jobs in the community by the restaurant on Clarkson’s Farm. Jobs and profits for local farmers. Seems like a great idea.

And then just like his application to add parking for his farm shop, the application for a restaurant is denied. Denied partly because a restaurant might add light to the night sky and local people might not be able to enjoy the dark night sky.

The council’s mantra is “application denied” as Clarkson tries to diversify the revenue his farm and his neighbour’s farms can earn.

The absurdity of it is breathtaking. I won’t tell you how season two ends but it certainly did put a smile on my face.