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Young farmer focus: Ben Robinson - "I left city life and earned money on farms"

Ben Robinson, 30, calf rears and keeps store cattle and sheep on 243 hectares (600 acres). He also runs a vineyard and winery, with arable land contracted to a neighbour.

Countryside: I have always wanted to farm.

 

My early teenage years were spent hand rogueing, cleaning grain stores and lambing before progressing to harvest tractor work.

 

My degree was history and Scottish Gaelic at Glasgow University – a fantastic city and one I still try and visit at least once-a-year.

 

Every holiday I left the buzz of city life and earnt money on farms.

 

These jobs led me to a one-year postgraduate qualification at the RAC before spending two years as an assistant manager on a large dairy farming estate in Dorset.

 

Before returning home last year I spent three years managing accounts for a dairy chemical manufacturer – a fantastic way to see farms across the country.

 

Ewes: Last year I started a North Country Mule flock, 240 ewes and rising.

 

The ewes are put to a Charollais but I intend to tweak my breeding to produce a lamb with better conformation for the market.

 

Store lambs and tack sheep are run on stubble turnips and arable cover crops over winter.

 

I also rear about 70 calves on milk a year, sourcing them from a nearby dairy farmer.

 

They are run on to 10-12 months old before being sold through Salisbury market.

 

I run the ‘farm’ side of the business, tending the livestock, making forage, organising contractors and doing the office work.

 

The other side of the business is our vineyard and winery diversification.

 

This is broadly overseen by my parents, although I do get involved when required for grape harvest, meetings, tours, sales and events.

 

It is a fast growing industry in the UK and we are particularly proud to say that 40 per cent of our sales are exports.

 

Young farmers: I am currently South East area Young Farmers Club (YFC) chairman.

 

It is a very powerful organisation reminding youngsters they are not alone in their passion for the countryside.

 

Although at the tail end of my YFC career, I enjoy helping to organise events as well as stewarding and judging the competitions.

 

My original career paths were either teaching or farming, so my involvement in YFC combines the two quite well.

 

After a number of challenging years in my home county I am glad to see Hampshire netball and men’s tug of war teams in the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) finals this summer.

 

A massive well done to Alex Drake from Romsey YFC too – this year’s winner in the NFYFC junior clay shooting competition.

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