Bridgette Baker: Ploughing match good for community spirit

As a kid I loved it when our farm hosted the local ploughing match.

To see nearly 100 tractors coming up the track – all those different brands and colours and from so many different times in history.

That’s before I saw all the faces of the enthusiastic farmers, eager to get their plot worked, wondering if this would be the match when they finally took the honours or beat a particular rival.

About the author

Bridgette Baker
Somerset young farmer Bridgette Baker hails from a mixed beef and arable farm near Yeovil, and studies agriculture at the Royal Agricultural University. An enthusiastic member of her local Young Farmers Club, Bridgette keeps her own Oxford Sandy and Black pigs and works her family’s farm rearing calves.
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Young me would be ecstatic that I competed in this year’s 78th Annual Yeovil Ploughing Match in the “Open Young Farmers Conventional” class, and now have two consecutive Young Farmers cup wins. 

I grew up with my dad being a keen ploughman and my nan and granddad being secretaries of the Yeovil Ploughing Match Society.

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I went along to all the match dinners and barbecues in-between their society meetings, and helped my nan with selling raffle tickets to boost match funds.

Supporting events like these is so important to keep them running. They bring the farming community together and highlight what we all do best – we compare ourselves to neighbouring farmers, have a bit of healthy competition, and give each other a helping hand when needed.

It’s also a great opportunity to share our interest in machinery and make new friends.

With an increasing emphasis on mental health in our industry, social events such as these are invaluable for that reason alone. But as committee members get older, it’s important new members come aboard.

It’s great to have a try, and ploughing matches have many classes to enter, including those for vintage kit and others for bigger reversible ploughs and modern machinery.

Our match had a demonstration to help new entrants, too. Modifying the format and getting younger people involved could be crucial to ensure they carry on for many more years.

With min-till becoming more common, it will be interesting to see if young people enjoy the art of match ploughing as much as previous generations did.

These matches are also a great chance to connect with the public, who can walk around and see farmers working first-hand, showcasing our passion for what we do, and the faces behind British agriculture.

And as I know from my own experience, some of those kids walking around will become inspired and develop a love of farming that lasts a lifetime.