Gareth Wyn Jones is no stranger to the TV cameras. Over the years the hill farmer from Llanfairfechan on the north Wales coast has been seen in programmes like Mountain with Griff Rhys Jones, Snowdonia 1890, Wales In Four Seasons and even Come Dine With Me and CBBC. But new series The Hill Farm takes his TV work to a whole new level. Gareth writes about his experience of making the series.

I suppose this has been the biggest TV project that I've ever been involved in. The production team approached me about the idea over a year ago - would we be willing to have a camera crew following us - not just me but the whole family - over the course of a year? My initial thought was, it's a lot to do, it's a lot of pressure.

Gareth Wyn Jones

We really had to think hard about what we could show them over the course of a year and what could be filmed - and I don't think my life is that interesting! But people tell me that they find it very interesting and educational.

I think as farmers we need to do more of this, we need to open our farm gates, we need to educate the public about where food comes from, and how we manage the countryside while caring for wildlife, and we need to bridge that gap between town and country.

I think a lot of people have lost contact with where their food comes from and also with the people who produce their food. We need to get that understanding back - it's something that's been lost in this generation, in my opinion - during World War II, and even more recently than that, it wouldn't have been true, and I think it's important for people to know their farmers and know their food.

The Jones family

When I worked with Renee Godfrey on Wales In Four Seasons I must say that I enjoyed it. I really got into it and felt that it was a good way of showing people what we do every single day.

Allowing the programme team into our home and into our lives was a very big decision to make. Previously it was only me that had been filmed. We're far from being perfect - we argue just like any other family! But seriously, I think we actually get on very well and we're very lucky that we have got good health and happiness - and I hope that comes across in the programme…

When the filming started the kids were suddenly very quiet! But then they quickly got to know the programme team and came to accept that they were just normal people with cameras - and then they forgot that it was anything unusual.

March's snow

We started filming last March - right in the middle of the snow storm. The first couple of shoots were difficult - it was a very stressful time with all the problems we faced with the snow. Actually I don't think I worried too much at the time about the camera - I was more concerned about what we had in front of us every single day. It was a terrible time, and I hope we never have to experience it again.

My wife Rhian, our children Siôr, Rolant and Mari, and my parents Roland and Eryl are all in the programme, as well as a lot of other family members and friends. Most of the local people are very close to us - Llanfairfechan is a very small community and people knew that we were filming and everyone was very good and just got on with it.

We were all clear from the start that if we were going to do this, we had to do it once, no retakes, and no messing about. I don’t think you can act in this situation - you've just got to be yourself and accept that it has to be an honest portrayal.

Gareth Wyn Jones

At the end of the day the programme is not really about me or about my family. It's about showing people what it takes to produce their food. For me it's about promoting that, so that people realise there’s a lot of hard work and heartache that goes into it, and that we’re local people.

If they support us by deciding to buy Welsh lamb and beef the next time they go shopping, it’s not just us farmers who benefit, there's a knock-on effect for the whole of the local community.

 

Tagged with:

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments.

  • Comment number 7. Posted by Dave the boat

    on 15 Apr 2015 23:10

    A really good family at work. The scenes of Easter 2013 were all over N Wales, hundreds of sheep died. In our area more lambs, because the ewes came to the sound of food and people, but the lambs were under 3 ft. of snow.
    It has to be shown because 95% of the U.K. didn't even see it on the news.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 7: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 7: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 6. Posted by LukePavey

    on 28 Mar 2014 10:36

    @Heather, thank you for your comments and I am sorry if you found the first episode of the series upsetting. We are documentary makers and endeavour to reflect the reality of the subjects that we film. The reality in this case was that we started our filming last spring during the heavy snow and strong winds that proved devastating for so many farmers. So rather than a deliberate attempt to be “miserable” we were simply showing the situation as it was, it would have been misleading to begin the series in any other way.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 6: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 6: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 5. Posted by LukePavey

    on 28 Mar 2014 10:33

    @Sian, thanks for your comments, if you walk on the hills above Llanfairfechan regularly then you will know that the ponies are gathered every year and have been for some time now. As the final episode of the series will show this is done to maintain a healthy herd and it forms an important part of the farming calendar. As documentary makers it was therefore vital that we captured this as part of our portrayal of a year on the farm.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 5: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 5: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 4. Posted by Owen - BBC Wales Social Media

    on 27 Mar 2014 12:26

    @ KatieH

    During Tuesday night's Q&A with Gareth and his family, two of the questions alluded to the "ear notching".
    You can find Gareth's responses here:
    » http://on.fb.me/1dQgkbp
    » http://on.fb.me/1gFkmZK

  • Comment number 3. Posted by KatieH

    on 26 Mar 2014 22:03

    Did anyone else think cutting the lambs ears in episode 2 was barbaric?! No local anaesthetic and they were covered in blood.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 3: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 3: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 2. Posted by Heather

    on 21 Mar 2014 18:41

    Tonight Friday, i decided to watch this on catch up. Why oh why did the opening minute have to contain shots of a dead sheep? Yes, we know farming is hard, however I blame the makers of the programme. For me this was typical BBC being miserable ... Did we really need to have the kick off focusing on the sad stuff... I turned off ...

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 2: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 2: 2
    Loading…
  • Comment number 1. Posted by sian

    on 18 Mar 2014 20:31

    I was walking the hills up there last year, as I do often, ( on the old Roman roads above Llanfairfechan and Pen...) when I heard for the first time, the reeving of engines and the wild ponies being forced in to a bit of a trot ....!!

    I'm sure it looked good for the cameras... and they do need looking after ..

    I am a huge lover of any thing that will help the Welsh farmers threw difficult times, and the Welsh people,


    But I am tired of the BBC jumping on to the new " what can we sell to the public next" scenario, that to be honest doesn't actually tell the truth any way ....


    Ohh well best of luck to all concerned.....

    Hope it works out as you want.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 1: 1
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 1: 0
    Loading…

More Posts

Previous