Presenter Kate Humble, meets a host of inspiring UK entrepreneurs who have taken a gamble and are making a living from the land and sea in her new series of Back To The Land....
Busy presenter Kate Humble is back on the road, travelling round the UK to meet entrepreneurs who are making a living from land and sea for her second series of Back To The Land, which starts next week.
Here the 49-year-old, who runs her own farm in the Wye Valley, Wales, took a break from lambing duties and looking after baby piglets, to talk about some of the people she meets, including seaweed farmers, florists and vineyard-owners who have gambled everything to start new ventures and reveals how they’ve inspired her…
Kate Humble chats about Back To The Land…
TV Times: Tell us about seaweed entrepreneurs Tim and Caro who you meet in this opening episode?
KH: “They’re two friends who decided they wanted to try and make a living from harvesting and selling seaweed. Caro did her degree in renewable energy and Tim’s a conservationist and both were doing a lot of casual work to bring in money. They started with very little money, a leaky boat, some snorkels and a lot of enthusiasm!”
What was their motivation to start the business and what hurdles were they up against?
KH: “There’s a real lack of jobs for local people in Cornwall so in order for them to stay living there they knew the best thing was to start their own venture. They had no prior experience and despite its huge coastline, there is no tradition of eating seaweed in Cornwall so they weren’t sure if there would even be a market for it. People thought they were mad to start with.”
TVT: How did they get things going and how is the business doing now?
KH: ‘They went to Ireland, where there is a culture of harvesting seaweed and managed to get experience with a company there before returning to Cornwall to go it alone. It was very hand to mouth at first. Caro, who was expecting her second child when I met her, was living in a caravan, Tim in a squat, but in the five years since they started out, the business has gone from strength to strength.”
TVT: You go diving with them don’t you?
KH: “Yes, we went off in their boat to harvest a seaweed called, ‘seaweed spaghetti’ which is exactly what it looks like and it’s a bit like eating a carb and gluten-free noodle. The harvesting is unbelievably hard work because they free dive for it – they’ve got a pair of scissors and some goggles, it’s as high-tech as that. There’s only so long I can hold my breath for but Tim seemed to be like a sperm-whale, not needing to come up for air!”
TVT: What is the seaweed used for?
KH: “They sell a certain amount fresh to lots of local restaurants and delis and sell dried seaweed online too. It’s full of vitamins and minerals and is becoming increasingly popular so now they’re branching out and developing seaweed-based condiments and pesto and have written recipe books on how to use it. They’re even going to start cultivating their own seaweed so they can harvest all year round and employ more people.”
TVT: Who else do you meet in the series?
KH: “There is a lovely family in Shropshire who have set up their own vineyard. The parents were both born in India where they had a farm and after moving to the UK and spending most of their lives working in offices, they were hankering to get back to the land. After retiring they decided they were going to start making their own wine and they have! It’s a real family affair with everyone mucking in when they can.”
TVT: What other entrepreneurs do you meet?
KH: “There’s all kinds of people; brewers, people rearing a rare breed of duck and two young mums who started growing flowers and have built up a really great business tapping into the wedding market. It’s one of those lovely enterprises where two friends have sat at a kitchen table going, ‘Shall we give this a go!’”
TVT: What do you think we can all learn from the entrepreneurs you meet?
KH: “What I love is they all show if you put you’re prepared to take a risk, work hard and put your mind to something, anything is possible. What these people are doing any of us could do but they are the brave ones who have taken that leap of faith and for many it is a real labour of love. Their hearts and souls are in their business. Working for yourself can be incredibly hard work, as I know myself, but the rewards can be huge. After the first series I had loads of tweets from people saying, ‘I want to do this…I’m going to jack in my job!’
TVT: Were you inspired by the people you meet?
KH: “Yes definitely. Branching out by yourself and doing something that really gets your creative juices flowing, your brain racing, something that makes you look back at the end of the day and see what you’ve achieved; that means far more to a lot of people than a regular salary and holiday pay. All of them were inspiring.”
TVT: What else have you got in the pipeline?
KH: “I’m in the process of writing a book called Thinking On My Feet which is about the wonderful benefits of walking and I’ve just finished filming the second series of the quiz show, Curious Creatures, with Chris Packham and Lucy Cook as team captains. It’s so much fun and we’ve got some great guests coming up.”
Back To The Land starts on Tuesday, May 8th, 7pm on BBC2