In honour of my recent MBE for services to farming I, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, aka The Black Farmer, discuss my passion for rural farming and diversity within the agricultural industry. Since the inception of my childhood dream to become a landowner, I have worked tirelessly to achieve this dream. Join me in this video as I give you a flavour of my personal paradise.
Born in Jamaica my family came to the UK in the Windrush years in the 1950s. Brought up in inner-city Birmingham, I fulfilled my childhood dream to own a small piece of the British countryside, and when I turned 40 I bought my farm in Devon. Inspired by this and my love and support of British farming, I launched The Black Farmer brand (click here for our premium products).
But I didn’t stop there. I wanted to be sure that The Black Farmer brand not only celebrates British farming by using only British meat (see here); but also supports the increasingly large community of people who have Coeliac disease, or a wheat and gluten intolerance (click here for our gluten free goodies).
Flavours without Frontiers – the promise offered by my products also sums up my personality. I will not be confined by race, convention or tradition. I am British. I love Morris dancers, but I love Flamenco dancing too. I love British eccentricity. I celebrate great British traditions.
I have strong opinions on issues such as rural affairs, justice for small producers and giving young people more opportunity. For some years I ran a rural scholarship scheme to give young people from inner city communities the opportunity to experience what it is really like to live and work in the rural community.
Giving opportunity to others is a key focus in my life. Throughout my own life and career I have been fortunate to have had a helping hand from others. My route to The Black Farmer has been interesting and exciting – an unsuccessful spell in the Army, a chef, a producer/director for the BBC where I brought many of the top celebrity chefs to the small screen for the first time including Gordon Ramsay, Antony Worrall-Thompson, Brian Turner and James Martin.
I founded a food and drink marketing company in London. And then, when I reached 40 I eventually fulfilled my childhood dream to own a small farm. It was here that I was inspired to launch The Black Farmer brand.
And then in my late 50s the unexpected happened. I was taken ill with Leukaemia and nearly lost my life. Thanks to the fast work of the Doctors and Nurses at UCHL I pulled through. In order to prevent the Leukaemia returning, I had a stem cell transplant which has left me with Graft versus Host disease.
After spending the best part of the year in hospital, I came back with renewed passion and energy to build The Black Farmer brand. I also launched The Hatchery, where I work with young brands to mentor, advise and support. Two of the Hatchery brands have now launched with great success, Smörgåsbord Swedish meatballs, and The Gym Kitchen.
In the 2020 New Year’s Honours list I was humbled to receive an MBE for services to British farming. I continue to use my profile to promote British farming.
Also in 2020 #blacklivesmatter gained momentum, and as a black person who has broken through the usual barriers I feel I have a responsibility to raise awareness. To start I have created new products to celebrate Black History. I have gained the support of nearly all the major retailers to run special promotions to raise awareness of Black History month – and of the enormous role black people have played in British history.
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