Ben Andrews

Organic Tenant Farmer

I’m a mixed, organic tenant farmer from Herefordshire farming around 600acres of top notch land – my family has been farming it since the late 1930s. With my dad we fatten beef for ABP, grow lettuce, kale and other bits of veg for Abel and Cole and local wholesalers and cereals for whoever wants to buy them.

I never really set out to be a farmer. Growing up I was no good at rugby, couldn’t drink my body weight in real ale and didn’t fancy girls – which seemed to be prerequisites for being a farmer.

I loved everything that farming involved – learning to drive in a Land Rover as soon as my feet could reach the pedals, counting cattle, repairing fences, grading potatoes. All of my childhood memories involved farming yet I felt I didn’t belong.

The overt “jokey” homophobia of the rugby club, parents’ dinner party conversations about whether homosexuality was natural and the dangers of AIDS, the whispers about the bachelor farmer who lives with his “friend”. All this contributed to a sense of isolation in a community I was not only linked to by time and place but also by blood.

The desperate attempts to fit in, get a girlfriend, settle down were futile so I packed my bags aged 18 for an Ag degree at the University of Edinburgh which was as far from home as possible to give me space to figure things out.

Over 4 years I learned more about myself than I did about agriculture (although I can make a killer spreadsheet) and was the time I came out to myself, my friends and most scarily my family. I can’t pretend it was all love and kisses but we worked through it and I am now a partner in the family farming business.

Speaking of partners, in September 2016 I married my boyfriend of 10 years, John (or Stevie as I call him). To get married to another guy, on the family farm, surrounded by all the people important to us was something an 11 year old me never thought could happen and the 16 year old me always dreamed of.

Elizabeth ElcoateBen Andrews