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Farming Matters: Rona Amiss - 'A spoonful of tea and hot water can deliver real profit'

Yippee, it is silly season down here in Cornwall as the great and not so great arrive, smiles on their faces and wallets open.

Farms in the Lizard have diversified since Poldark’s time into the crafty art of relieving upcountry people of their holiday spending money in the nicest way possible.

 

But tourism is a bit like haymaking in that it is weather dependent, has long hours and is over too soon, so August is the time to get our heads down and earn money.

 

Our farm is beautiful, with spectacular views and an amazing coastline and we are privileged to pay a massive rent to be able to enjoy this. Unfortunately many, many people want to enjoy it as well and trying to farm alongside all these jolly holidaymakers can sometimes become interesting.

 

To keep sane we try to focus on the economics of a spoonful of tea and hot water being better profit than rearing sheep or cattle.

 

Cattle

 

But, when you have chased those cattle round the village for the fifth time in a weekend as the gates are left open, it is hard to keep calm.

 

Most tourists genuinely love the countryside and that is why they are here. They are interested enough to watch Countryfile each week and think farmers are the salt of the earth.


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A few are confused as to why we lack mobile phone coverage and we do not grow avocados, but they are mostly harmless. Then we get the switched-on vegans we just send up the road to our neighbour’s cafe.

 

It is rare to have any who do not have some sort of interest in what we are doing.

 

Operation Tregullas Farm is about grabbing that interest and educating, starting with signs on gates about what is in the field, notices giving up-to-date info on calving or lambing, scarecrow messages, open days, kids’ farm school and our biggest event, Open Farm Sunday.

 

Weirdly, it is actually quite enjoyable not chasing cows but talking to people and explaining what you are doing on the farm.

 

People are impressed and it is nice to feel proud of the good bits. As peasants we have lots of bad bits as well, but the same people are very understanding and appreciate that at least you are trying and do realise why you seem to be obsessed with when it is going to rain again.

 

After spending a small fortune living the Cornish dream for a week, they head back to their sand free, wi-fi perfect homes clutching their Cornish fudge, cider and hopefully a boot full of our lamb.

 

Knowledge

 

Next time Countryfile comes on the television they will have talked to real farmers and their knowledge will be a little more.

 

Imagine if we all did one or two little things such as putting a sign on a gate just to engage with those customers, instead of moaning about the BBC.

 

How about fighting back and telling your side of the story? Remember, tourists do not bite – not usually, anyway, but they do lots of very funny things that possibly are not suitable for the back page of Farmers Guardian.

 

Enjoy your summer.

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