A lake-shore business in Cumbria is offering the opportunity for the most famous fictional agricultural community in Britain to come and experience the reality of farming today.
Shayla and Jonathon Batty, who run Bank Ground Farm at Coniston, sent an invitation to the editor of BBC Radio 4’s daily soap opera The Archers.
“We know it’s a tough life in farming these days and we thought we could share our experiences with folk in Ambridge,” said Shayla.
In The Archers Ambridge, home to the Archer clan, features a number of farming issues, from Brian and Jennifer’s large scale operation at Home Farm, to Pat and Tony’s organic Bridge Farm.
That family is currently arguing about an offer to buy some of their land from an entrepreneur.
At Bank Ground Farm in the Lake District, the family have diversified in a number of exciting ways, to keep the business growing and profitable. Along with Aberdeen Angus Cattle, Jacob sheep, and a family of alpacas to guard the lambs, there’s also a guest house, holiday cottages, a tea room and restaurant, a small shop selling homemade crafts, and boats and bicycles for hire. Everything is managed in the most sustainable way possible.
There’s also occasional events such as lakeside regattas, poetry workshops, and cycle sportives. The farm is used to dealing with fiction as well as real life; it was the location for Arthur Ransome’s “Holly Howe” in the classic children’s story Swallows and Amazons.
“We have expanded and diversified the farm business, which has been a great learning experience,” said Shayla. “We would be delighted if any of the production team – or the cast – wanted to come and visit to see how we do things at Bank Ground Farm.
“Our ethos is to farm in a sensible and sustainable manner so whilst not organically certified we farm a low input system that is mainly organic in character allowing us to develop the highest possible quality grass finished beef and lamb.”
And the response from Ambridge? “Thank you for your invitation and if we’re ever in the Lakes (how lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country) we’ll pop in,” replied The Archers’ editor Huw Kennair-Jones.