OPINION: New columnist Sally Jackson

My husband is worried. He’s the real farmer and he’s concerned about the rubbish I might spout in this column – so much so, in fact, that he’s asked to proofread every word. The children aren’t so concerned. Our eldest son and teenage daughter never read, let alone look at farming magazines, and our eldest daughter loves romance, so no worries there either.

Local food is my real passion and I have been alternately astounded and furious at the lack of understanding that local food groups have about county boundaries. A lovely girl rang me a while back asking if I would like to advertise our farm shop in a glossy publication covering Yorkshire and the Humber (north Lincolnshire, where we live) called Yorkshire’s Own Kitchen. I pointed out that Lincolnshire folk would rather stick pins in their eyes than come under a Yorkshire banner.

When the Yorkshire and Humber food group started up more than 10 years ago, it named its main food initiative “Deliciously Yorkshire”. I expressed my disapproval in my usual quiet and unassuming manner. Of course, it didn’t make a jot of difference.

Some of the more forward-thinking agricultural shows around the country have ensured that all the food on the showground is locally sourced, having realised the positive influence of local food on the tourism industry and, more importantly, the local economy.

Our event, the Lincolnshire Show, is one of the agricultural highlights of the year, both socially and as an occasion for people to come together and show off the very best of the county.

The event runs like clockwork and the organisers in the office couldn’t be more helpful. It also does get together the best of local food – only problem is, it then shoves us to the back of the food court while many of the traditional concessions beside the main ring and on the general thoroughfares seem to be paying lip-service to local food.

To add insult to injury, the show sets price limits for the food we sell, for example, burgers and bacon baps at £3.80. But how can you compare a burger sold at a nameless concession sourced from goodness knows where with a free-range, home-made pork sausage with 25% more meat content served in a locally sourced bread roll?

Just as well we and our peers have a loyal following of dedicated foodies who search us out at lunchtime. The “show makers”, I should point out, are wonderful. Perhaps word just needs to come from the top in these organisations?

My husband (or the “current” husband as he is affectionately known – we’ve only been married 25 years, there’s still time for a change) usually takes over the barbecue and catches up with all his friends for a chat while turning the sausages. He’s one of the few men I know who doesn’t cremate barbecue food.

We were not able to do both days of the show ourselves this year. After watching the vintage band 10cc at Grimsby Auditorium a few months ago (he rang me at about 9.30pm to say that looking at the age of the audience, the band had called a “Sanatogen break” halfway through the show), he decided to “treat” me to a night with Rod Stewart.

So we rewarded my lovely staff with a hectic day at the show by themselves as we swanned off to Birmingham. I have to say, publicly, that Rod was brilliant (I was a little skeptical beforehand, wondering why on earth we’d paid £70 to see an ageing rocker). He is 68, still a fantastic showman and proves that there is hope for the ageing farmer population yet.

The children, during the 10 years we have been attending the Lincolnshire Show, have always liked the idea of helping us on the stand. But the reality is they don’t get a chance to talk to friends, their clothes end up smelling of “eau de bacon” and they can’t drink beer in the members’ club.

Hence, I take hard-working young folk who have rarely seen a county show before and introduce them to rows of big tackle, assorted sheep and frighteningly high show-jumping fences.

Show over and, after talking to the traders, the grounds did not appear as busy as previous years, although the weather was good. Some traders reported a similar number of sales, but less average spend. I certainly noticed fewer carrier bags.

We then grabbed a break before harvest. Unfortunately, all of the children decided to come with us – we were hoping to shake at least one or two, but no, a free holiday in the sun, even with Mum and Dad, is apparently more appealing than the affordable option of camping in the Lake District.

We went to Turkey. No pigs, no chickens, no foxes, no customers and the current husband engrossed in Farmers Weekly on the beach. Bliss.

Sally and husband Andrew farm 364ha just outside Scunthorpe in north Lincolnshire. They have a farm shop, The Pink Pig Farm (a former winner in the Diversification category of the Farmers Weekly Awards), with a 90-seater café and farm trail. Sally is currently chairman of FARMA (the Farmers’ Retail and Markets Association).

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