Elstree in Hertfordshire is famous for many things-the BBC studios probably the most well known.
There is a new attraction in the area though, set up by farming champion, Jess Allen-Back, founder of Home Farm Glamping.
So close to London (the glamping site is inside the M25), you wouldn’t think you could get very rural so close to the capital but Jess has proved that you can.
Jess’s family have farmed in Hertfordshire for nearly 400 years, growing cereal crops: winter oats, barley, wheat and beans, mainly.
As well as managing the farms, Jess’s recent foray into glamping has left her time-poor but experience-rich.
Easily reachable by tube or Thames Link, Home Farm Glamping opened in 2015.
Traditional farming in this part of the country hasn’t done brilliantly in the last few years due to bad weather at the wrong times, but Jess says the glamping is a great way of using a small piece of land to generate income.
“We had a terrible start to the year weather wise which meant we couldn’t get onto our crops with fertiliser and other treatments until far too late, so our yield wasn’t great,” Jess said.
“We also have a problem with various weeds which aren’t treatable now and have to be grown out, which is a long process.”
Jess blames the lack of domestic support for farming on many of the issues affecting farms across the country.
From supermarkets, from customers who want to buy cheap food and don’t really care where it comes from, and from the government are all factors, she believes.
“Historically farmers have already been pretty adaptable, so I think we will continue to adapt to new challenges and find ways to continue working,” says Jess, hopefully.
“The glamping is a good example of the way lots of farms are using a growing interest in creating “experiences” to promote the farming way of life.
“We run a course called “Land Girls”, where people who want a bit of a break from their office job and sedentary lifestyle can come out to stay with us at Home Farm Glamping and do a few hours work with us. They find it very therapeutic, and it gives us an opportunity to teach people about what life on a farm is like these days.”
One of the biggest things Jess would like people from non-farming backgrounds to realise is that no one is going to create any more countryside and we need to look after it and support the farmers who do that as well as taking care of bees.
Jess trained as a lawyer straight from university, and hadn’t really thought about going back to help on the farm.
Asked what advice she would give to herself ten years ago, she says it would be: “if you’re going to go and sit in an airless box in the City, at least learn a type of law that is useful in the countryside.”
Being outside and not stuck in an office all day is her favourite part of farm life although she does lament that she is still behind the computer a bit of the time-after all, even farming has a lot of paperwork these days, and the fact that every day is different.
The pouring with rain and freezing cold are the down points but at least she has the shelter of a beautiful tent to keep her warm an dry.
To book a stay at Home Farm Glamping and to find out more, visit the website www.homefarmglamping.com