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Young Farmer Focus: Nicholas Bell - ‘Young Farmers are challenging stereotypes’

Nicholas Bell, 26, is a soon-to-be photojournalism graduate from the University of South Wales, Cardiff.

 

He spent four months with young farmers, hearing and photographing their life in the industry.

credit: Aiyush Pachnanda
credit: Aiyush Pachnanda

Photography: I am from rural Wiltshire and have been studying photojournalism for three years at the University of South Wales, Cardiff.

 

When I moved to Cardiff, Brexit was a pretty fresh topic, and one issue that kept popping up was the impact a hard Brexit could have on agriculture.

 

I noticed stark differences of opinion between politicians and economists. On top of that, the farming community seemed torn over the issue.

 

At home, I have always been surrounded by farming and understand its importance to rural communities.

 

So, I decided to look further into the issue to find out how young farmers in Wales feel about the future.

 

Project: The end goal was a series of portraits which would sit alongside a written account of the conversations I would have with young farmers I met.

 

Over a period of nearly four months, I travelled across Wales, knocking on farm doors to obtain a rounded perspective from young people working in various types of farming.

 

It soon became clear that although Brexit was the main topic being discussed in the mainstream media, there are many other issues young farmers are concerned about.

 

From my experience, the family farm still plays a crucial role in Wales and to see so many people my own age completely dedicated to continuing the work of their parents, grandparents and beyond, is inspiring.


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Young people seem to switch roles far more frequently nowadays, but witnessing the commitment to continuing the family business showed me a real sense of identity among young farmers.

 

Role: The changing role of the farmer was another interesting topic brought up by a number of people.

 

Given the disconnect a lot of people have with their food, the idea that young farmers need to act as educators to the public is one which really stood out to me.

 

We spoke about many other topical issues, ranging from mental health and financial pressures, to share farming and new entrants.

 

What shone through was the resilient side to farming and the industry’s ability to adapt in challenging times.

 

It seems clear the younger generation of farmers is now the face of the industry as it moves through a potentially transformative period.

 

There is a lot of pessimistic talk about the future and I did expect to hear grumbling about the political state of things at the moment.

 

However, I ended up meeting a group of young people which is ready to make an opportunity of any uncertainty – forward-thinking, business-minded and challenging the stereotype of the traditional farmer.

 

For more on Nick’s photography, click here.

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