From not a lot to Diddly Squat – what ‘Clarkson’s Farm’ reveals about diversifying19/07/21
The divisive Jeremy Clarkson’s recent Amazon series ‘Clarkson’s Farm’ has been a hit with farmers and non-farmers alike. It has been praised for raising awareness of the difficulties of running and working a farm, especially against the numerous rules and regulations. Not to mention seasonality and unpredictable weather cutting into productivity.
Although Clarkson approaches making his new farm viable with his characteristic slap-dash manner, there are several ways in which he attempts to diversify which could provide ideas to help to make other farms more profitable.
We’ve summarised some of the elements considered in the series, as well as provided a few of our own suggestions, for how these could work for you and your farm, land or smallholding:
One of Clarkson’s fields was dedicated to storage. Large metal containers littered the area. The precious commodity most of these enclosed? Of course, it was his cars. However, providing a storage service for people looking to store valuable goods and belongings in the long and short term is an ideal way to generate further income from a piece of non-arable land.
Anything from cars and motorbikes to off-season motorhomes and caravans (don’t tell Clarkson) or even boats, to other goods and gear, can be stored onsite or in containers, existing outbuildings, or in newly-built sheds. Just so long as decent security can also be provided to keep these belongings safe.
With people keener than ever to buy local and know more about where their produce has come from, many farms have embraced providing a farm shop, and Clarkson’s farm is no exception. The Diddly Squat Farm Shop not only sells its own food and goods, but also supports other local producers from the area. This is the ideal way to diversify your own farm shop to include more items which people might like to buy, but which you don’t have the resources to produce on your own farm, such as craft beer, cheese and preserves, to clothes and home gifts. By charging commission on these other goods sold, it’ll continue to make your farm shop more profitable.
Although not part of Clarkson’s Farm, right next door to the Diddly Squat Farm Shop is a caravan site. With travel abroad still facing restrictions for the time being, holidaying in the UK has never been more popular. Tapping into this growing demand by running a campsite will take advantage of this UK-centred holiday market, as well as utilising your land in a new way. This could be extremely popular if your farm is in a natural beauty spot or near to tourist attractions. Whether it’s creating a site for tents, caravans and motorhomes, or converting buildings into self-catering accommodation, the staycation possibilities are endless.
If you’re not looking to rear and shear sheep like Clarkson did (unsuccessfully), then keeping alpacas is a perfect source of alternative revenue. From keeping grass trimmed without damaging a field, to fetching a high price for their fleece and wool, as well as for their young (crias), alpacas practically pay for their own upkeep, meaning more profit for you. Alpaca walking is hugely popular, and might be the perfect selling point to attract holiday makers to your new caravan site.
TV & Film
Although not everyone can have a TV show like Clarkson, allowing your property and land to be used by filmmakers can be an exciting and lucrative option. From period dramas to rural shows, even derelict barns can play their part in post-apocalyptic scenes. Registering your land or farm could mean it is featured in the next viral music video, award-winning TV series, or blockbuster feature film, and high prices are often paid for land’s use.
Rewilding is not only helpful for the environment and reducing the decline of native birds, animals and insects, but with many forms of funding and grants available, rewilding can be a viable decision. Mid Wales alone received £3.4 million in 2018 for a rewilding scheme. Despite getting stuck and initially churning up the surrounding area (maybe a wet winter was not the ideal time to begin this endeavour), Clarkson created a tranquil area for rewilding on his farm. He made a large pond, which he then dedicated to keeping trout, to sell to local pubs and restaurants for extra revenue. Clarkson also planted new trees and sowed an area of wildflower in his fields, to encourage declining wildlife, including bees.
Despite a few nasty stings, Clarkson’s bee keeping was one of the most successful things that he tried on his farm. From buying five hives and a quarter of a million bees, the honey they provide from the wildflowers on his farm is then collected and sold at The Diddly Squat Farm Shop. This cycle of Clarkson’s rewilding through flower planting, to creating a farm shop, to having the bees to stock the shop with honey, is the perfect demonstration of how finding new ways to diversify a farm can all have lasting beneficial and monetary gains.