Jimmy Doherty Interview

 A feature from the June 2017 issue of Suffolk Norfolk Life magazine
Suffolk Norfolk Life June 2017Click to view this issue »
Stephanie Mackentyre speaks to Jimmy Doherty, the Suffolk-based farmer and television presenter

I caught up with Jimmy whilst he was unpacking and then re-packing a suitcase in his hotel room on the fourth floor during a break from filming in Exeter. Jimmy was in the midst of filming for Food Unwrapped for Channel 4, his latest series where, along with Kate Quilton and Matt Tebbut, he presents the food and science series that travels the world to lift the lid on what’s really in the food we eat. “I’ve just been in Dorset today filming a smokery full of smoked kippers then tomorrow morning I’m off to Exeter University and then it’s Holland in the afternoon.” He goes straight from that into filming for Friday Night Feast, also for Channel 4, which starts two weeks later. Then he’s back to Food Unwrapped filming again in August. However, he is taking a couple of days out to support this year’s Royal Norfolk Show which takes place on 28th & 29th of this month. The County’s annual agricultural Show is organised by the Norfolk Agricultural Association and is held at the Norfolk Showground just off the A47. Jimmy Doherty is attending this year as part of his role as President of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. “It’s a dual purpose thing; I’m lending my support to the Royal Norfolk show to see the activities, the clubs and societies and to meet the farmers but also as President of the RBST. During his presidential year so far he’s been getting to grips with what the Trust does and the importance of the Trust including the educational side too. “I’ve been looking at how we can get the message out there to the wider general public not just farmers and those interested in breeding livestock. But also I’ve been looking at the poultry side of rare breeds.” Jimmy rears 20,000 free range turkeys per year. “Through the trust I’d like to establish breeding some rare breed British turkeys because they need the limelight put on them too.” Jimmy told me that Rare Breed Pigs are also declining. “People say ‘Well they are rare breed which means they’re rare for a reason.’ But not only are they are part of our farming and national heritage; they have quite a lot of valuable genetics in them. If you look at commercial chickens there are currently just two companies who own the entire world’s chicken genetics. It’s good to have diversity, in all its forms, especially in genetics to keep these breeds going. Gloucestershire Old Spot and Saddle Back Pig numbers are down, particularly this year, and across all of the rare breeds they could all do with a push.”

When he’s not filming or working with the RBST his attentions turn fully to his farm, both the working farm and also the Farm Park. “On the working farm we are producing a bit more beef and looking at producing a bespoke suckler herd for the farm which is a low maintenance female line and bred to a Galloway Bull. We’ve just established a very rare line of Galloway called the Riggit Galloway. Turkey and rare breed pigs of course we’re still working on too. As for the Farm Park, we’ve recently been awarded our Zoo licence. Not only do we promote conservation of rare breeds but also conservation of wild species too. We have on-going conservation and research with a number of universities and now house a number of exotic species which includes meerkats, a band of South American coatis, meerkats, reindeer, emus, wallabies and tapirs.”

Read the full article in the June 2017 issue of Suffolk Norfolk Life Magazine
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