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Old Oswestrian features in new television series
10th January 2020

A farm near Oswestry is getting a big television break as it becomes the focal point of a new series on Quest. Treflach Farm is featuring in the 10-episode-long series titled Born Mucky: Life on the Farm, which aired its first episode on Tuesday 7 January.

The family-run farm opened back in 1904 and is under the management of former Oswestry School pupil Ian Steele who returned to look after the farm in 2006, following some time working in London and overseas.

The series will follow the family throughout their day-to-day working lives on the farm higlighting the hard work and dedication it takes to look after the farm and produce quality produce.

Ian said the opportunity to showcase working life is something he is really grateful for. “It’s a really exciting thing for us,” he said. “We’re really lucky to have some wonderful people working on the farm and some wonderful customers, but now being able to spread the word about good quality food, locally grown with locally sourced ingredients, it’s really great to be able to shout about that to a wider audience.

“We are a relatively small-scale operation and we’re not here to take over the world, but to be able to grow the message is something I’m really grateful to the guys at the television programme for.”

The series is aiming to give people an insight to where their food comes from and how it is produced.

After returning to the farm in 2006, it was left to Ian to decide which direction the family-run business was to go next. This resulted, eventually, in the farm being as it is today, with an on-site bakery and more transparency for visitors to see where their food has come from.

But on a personal note, it was also a change which Ian says was beneficial to his wellbeing as he made a career change to focus on working at the farm full-time. He said: “Because we deliver our food to independent retailers ourselves, we tick a lot of the boxes. We have free-range animals on the farm and we have the bakery here – and all our food is packaged up and labelled as Treflach Farm produce. So we have that traceability which a lot of food producers don’t really have.

“People are further removed from their food than they have ever been; what we’re trying to do is change that and actually engage with people about where their food comes from. We want to make people understand that eating healthily doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank and can help with their well-being. We do this also through the community interest companies we run from the farm which helps adults with learning difficulties and mental health issues.

“I found returning to the farm being a very therapeutic exercise in itself – I struggled with mental health issues and depression when I was working abroad and down in London. Returning to the farm and taking it in a new direction has really helped me and I’ve found a lot of peace and therapeutic value from working outside in fresh air and doing tasks that have real visible outcomes. You get a massive sense of wellbeing and satisfaction from seeing your work done in front of you, it gives you a real sense of satisfaction.”

Ian hopes the programme can inform people about how much care is taken for the animals at the farm. He added: “From our perspective, we want to get the message across that food production can be environmentally aware and we can produce food which fits with a moral and ethical framework. Looking after animals as well as we possibly can, with them fitting into the food chain in a way that really values them as sentient beings, but also nourishes people spiritually and physically. And doing all that while suppressing carbon and becoming energy neutral or even generating energy on the farm using appropriate technologies.

“We want people to see farming can be a force for good in this world rather than a bit of a maligned force it is represented as in the media. It’s frustrating because farming can often be lumped together as one variety, when actually there are a lot of ways of producing food, and what we’re trying to show is that we can produce food in a way which is sympathetic to nature and can work with the local economy and can offer good well-paid jobs. It can also help with regards to giving mental health benefits when working outdoors and as one with animals – mental health is a real issue that has come about in society in general, but in farming specifically in the past couple of years.”

The programme is set to air on Quest at 9pm every Tuesday for the next nine weeks.

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