Growing up on the Cotswold Hills as a farmer’s son was a great start to life and it spurred my enthusiasm to become a farmer one day. I was born in 1966 and got involved with the family business from an early age. When the Farm Park opened in 1971 me and my three sisters all helped out.
When I was only 8 years old, I accompanied my Dad, Joe to the island of North Ronaldsay, on an excursion to buy 287 sheep. The North Ronaldsay breed had been isolated to the shore of the island and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust had managed to buy another island – Linga Holm – to act as an alternative breeding site. 108 of the sheep were brought back to England and Scotland to found new flocks here. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget and recently Dad and I returned to the Orkney’s with the Countryfile cameras for a trip down memory lane.
I went to local schools through to A’ levels and then worked on the Chatsworth Estate in Derbyshire for a year’s work experience before going to Seale-Hayne Agricultural College in Devon, where I gained a HND in Agriculture and its Management.
At college I became great mates with Duncan Andrews and after our studies we travelled together to Australia and New Zealand for a year, working on arable and sheep stations, before returning home via California and Canada. This gave us a great insight into agriculture in other parts of the world.
When I succeeded the farm tenancy from my father in 1999, Duncan and his family joined me in the business and we now jointly run the 650-hectare estate, together with the Cotswold Farm Park, home to over 50 breeding flocks and herds of British rare breed farm animals.
In 2001 I applied for a presenting position on Countryfile as they were looking for someone who was interested in farming and the rural domain. The media world is not a stranger to me as I come from a thespian family. My grandfather, Leslie Henson, was a comedian, my father, Joe Henson, presented a countryside TV programme with Angela Rippon and Phil Drabble and my uncle, Nicky Henson, is an actor who has appeared in films and TV programmes including Fawlty Towers and Inspector Morse.
I was lucky enough to be chosen from over 3,500 applicants to become a TV presenter. Since Countryfile has moved to its Sunday evening timeslot, I am often presenting from the farm at home, giving me the opportunity to describe first-hand the life of a livestock and arable farmer in these modern times. It is thrilling to be part of a programme that has gone from strength to strength and now regularly receives 6-7 million viewers.
“Working as a farmer and TV presenter is exciting and rewarding,
particularly as the public are now much more engaged with the countryside, as farmers are with consumers.
I believe the food supply chain has some amazing opportunities and Britain
produces the best food in the world”.
In 2013 I teamed up with celebrity chef Nigel Slater to co-present Nigel and Adam’s Farm Kitchen, a four-part series exploring how food gets from farm to fork, and how to make the most of seasonal produce. Nigel is a great cook and lovely to work with.
I have filmed three series for BBC Lambing Live alongside Kate Humble, the third series of which aired in spring 2014. Each series featured a year in the life of a sheep farmer with half of the programme live from the lambing shed based on the farm. Live television for me was fairly terrifying but thankfully Kate is a true professional and mentored me through. The programme was very well received by both the general public and sheep farmers, giving a true reflection of the trials, tribulations and joys of running a sheep flock.
In 2015 I presented a new series of BBC1’s Secret Britain with Ellie Harrison. This 3-part series discovered the Water World of Wales, the Mysterious Moors of Yorkshire and The Hidden Highland of Scotland. Ellie was great fun to work with and some of the experiences were new to me, including hot air ballooning and gliding.
I have also been asked to present on Countryfile Summer Diaries, Big Wildlife Revival, BBC2’s Coast and Inside Out. I have a monthly column in Countryfile magazine, as their resident farmer, as well as the Cotswold Life magazine.
My English teacher would be amazed that I have written a book titled “My Life on the Land”. This has been very well received and I have plans, in the not too distant future, to further develop some book projects.
Follow Adam on Twitter @adamhenson.