Young farmer hopes to harvest new fans

Oxford Mail: Henry Crudge Buy this photo » Henry Crudge

HENRY Crudge is hoping to beef up the image of farmers.

The 25-year-old wants to use his role in Channel 4 documentary First Time Farmers next week to show what the industry is really like.

The university graduate works on his father’s farm in Churchill, near Chipping Norton, producing wheat, oilseed rapeseed and hay for racehorses.

He said: “People still have a very stereotypical opinion of the farming lifestyle, of a grumpy man with a straw in his mouth and a tweed cap on.

“This programme shows that it’s nothing like that.”

The production team filmed over a six-month period centring on last summer’s harvest.

Mr Crudge said: “It was a great experience, but for me it was just another normal harvest, just with cameras.

“The team would come and film all day and they wouldn’t get in our way, although they would occasionally ask you to repeat something.”

Asked how he felt about his new-found celebrity, he said: “I live in a village where everyone knows everyone anyway, so it’s not going to be too bad.”

As part of the production, Mr Crudge has had to take part in publicity photo shoots – some of which have seen him topless on the farm.

He said: “I thought why not? I wouldn’t stand there naked, but other than that I really don’t mind – I’ve got nothing to lose or hide.”

Mr Crudge, who attended the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, will become the fifth generation to run his family’s farm when he takes over.

He currently runs it with his father Peter, 55, while his mother, Sue, is full-time housewife.

Mr Crudge said: “I’ve worked every harvest since I was probably 13. It’s something I’ve always done.

“Every day is different and it isn’t a mundane office job – it is the best job in the world.

“I’m not running it properly yet but my dad is getting me ready to take it over in a couple of years.”

He said he did briefly consider taking a farming job elsewhere after university but did not want to leave his father working the land alone.

He added: “Farming is becoming more fashionable.

“I think people like the idea of it because you are out and about, driving big tractors and quad bikes, but I don’t think most people could stick it because of the hours.

“It is hard work and you have to be dedicated to it.”

Mr Crudge, who has a girlfriend, said his social life had suffered because of his job but said he tried to make time to see friends, even if it meant getting home just hours before his 7am start.

First Time Farmers, which has been created by the team behind Made in Chelsea, features young farmers aged 16 to early 20s.

It tell the stories of young apprentices, shepherds and slaughtermen and the first of the five-part series was screened on January 11.

The episode featuring Mr Crudge is set to air on Channel 4 on Friday, February 8.

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