British farmers are becoming Instagram stars – gathering thousands of devoted fans

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Meet the British farmers who are taking social media by storm, with thousands of Instagram fans following their updates and farming tips.

Swapping glamorous city careers to tend the land, beef and arable farmer Ben Andrews, 39, who has 47,000 followers, and meat and dairy farmer Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, 63, who has 10,000, have never looked back.

Former marketing expert Ben, who lives on a farm in Broadward, Herefordshire, with his GP husband, John, 41, tried city life for 18 months before swapping the hustle and bustle for farming life in 2007 – launching an Instagram page to show people where their food comes from.

Ben runs an arable and beef farm, which has been in his family since the 1930s. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Ben runs an arable and beef farm, which has been in his family since the 1930s. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He said: “Living in London, I found there was a lot of disconnect between the general public and food productions. I worked in food and drink marketing and was amazed to meet food journalists, really intelligent people with good knowledge on food, who had no idea how their food was made.”

It was a natural career path for Ben, who grew up on his parents’ farm, which he now runs.

He said: “It’s my family’s farm – we don’t own it, but we’ve been tenants since the 1930s, so it feels very much like ours.”

Ben now has 47,000 followers who keep up with his daily posts. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Ben now has 47,000 followers who keep up with his daily posts. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “We supply a mix of beef, vegetables and cereal crops and we’ve been organic for 20 years now.

“It’s very busy on the farm, especially at this time of year. Right now, we’re in the field picking lettuce.”

London life only served to intensify Ben’s love of farming.

Ben swapped the hustle and bustle of London for his family farm in Herefordshire. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Ben swapped the hustle and bustle of London for his family farm in Herefordshire. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He said: “City life wasn’t meant for me, I’m much more at home running the farm.”

Gathering 47,000 followers since starting his Instagram page in 2016, his daily posts are hugely popular.

He said: “I like to be transparent and hopefully educate people about food production.”

Ben has been overwhelmed by the positive feedback he has received online. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Ben has been overwhelmed by the positive feedback he has received online. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “I want to use my own voice to tell people how farming works.

“But the huge interest on social media was quite a shock. I think people find what we farmers do fascinating. I hope my Instagram provides my followers with some insight.”

Overjoyed by the positive feedback he has received, social media has been a definite force for good for Ben.

Ben says he set up his Instagram account because he noticed a disconnect between the public and their knowledge of food production. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Ben says he set up his Instagram account because he noticed a disconnect between the public and their knowledge of food production. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He said: “I feel incredibly lucky. You hear about the negativity people endure on social media, but the followers I have on Instagram have been very kind.”

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, who came to England from Jamaica at the age of four, as part of the Windrush generation, swapped a high-flying career in TV production 25 years ago for farming.

Attracting 10,000 Instagram followers since launching his page in 2012, he says owning his meat and dairy farm on the Devon and Cornwall border, in Launceston, has fulfilled a lifelong dream.

Wilfred hopes to inspire other aspiring farmers who are unsure of how to get into the industry. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Wilfred hopes to inspire other aspiring farmers who are unsure of how to get into the industry. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He said: “Everything I did in life was so that I could save up to buy a farm.”

The father of two grown up children, his company is called The Black Farmer and he loves overseeing the day-to-day business of his farm, which he bought in 1996.

He said: “After moving to the UK, aged four, I grew up in the inner city of Birmingham, as one of nine children.”

Wilfred is now a successful businessman with his brand, The Black Farmer. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Wilfred is now a successful businessman with his brand, The Black Farmer. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “There was no access to farmland, but I loved helping my dad on his allotment as a child. From that moment, I knew I wanted to be a farmer.

“I took a long time to get there. In fact, it took me 35 years to make it a reality.

“I left school without any qualifications and I could hardly read and write because I’m dyslexic.”

Finding a job as a runner for TV, Wilfred worked his way up the ladder, becoming a TV producer for the BBC.

He said: “I had a great career in TV, but I always knew the end goal was to leave, so finally, once I had enough money saved up, I left to buy farmland.”

Since then, Wilfred has become an internet celebrity, with his social media updates about his farm gaining him thousands of followers.

Wilfred says it was helping on his dad’s allotment as a child which ignited his love for farming. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Wilfred says it was helping on his dad’s allotment as a child which ignited his love for farming. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He said: “I set up an Instagram to promote my business, but I never imagined it would gain the following it has.”

“Ten thousand people follow my posts and updates, and I just hope that I can be an inspiration to other aspiring black farmers out there.”

While he feels that being an immigrant made owning a farm more difficult for him, Wilfred wants people to be inspired by his success.

He said: “If you want to break down barriers then you have to be determined.

“There was a lot that put me at a disadvantage when it came to buying a farm. I think most immigrants are at a disadvantage with that, because often farmland is passed down through the generations.

“I’ve had to forge my own path in order to succeed.”

Wilfred left his career in TV to buy farmland on the Devon and Cornwall border. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Wilfred left his career in TV to buy farmland on the Devon and Cornwall border. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “I haven’t come from a farming background and the odds were stacked against me, but if I can do it, anyone can.”

*You can follow Ben on Instagram here: instagram.com/bentheoandrews. And Wilfred on Instagram here: instagram.com/theblackfarmer

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