The Resilient Farmer – ‘Shift happens’ tour

The UFU are proud to be working partnership with Rural Support to help bring the Resilient Farmer events to farmers in Northern Ireland.

Sunday, 6th October 2019, 11:05 am

Below is the last excerpts from ‘The Resilient Farmer’ Doug Avery’s book, giving a flavour of what you can expect from Doug’s talks when he visits NI this month. His book is entertaining, heart-breaking, and inspiring and no doubt the events will be too.

Dates for the tour are as follows: 7th October, Glenavon Hotel, Cookstown; 8th October, Mourne Country Hotel, Newry; 9th October, Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen; and 10th October, Tullyglass Hotel, Ballymena. All events start with a light supper at 7pm.

Tickets for the tour are £10 per person, which includes a light supper. For more information and to book your ticket visit

Excerpt from the chapter: The Pool of Change

I have become a resilient farmer. As debate intensifies over the future of farming, I salute those in the industry who face the future with resilience, who bounce forward from challenges.

Few other occupations align so closely with life and nature. We live every day so close to nature, so terrified by its power – in drought, flood, fire and hurricane – and so humbled by its beauty. We work first-hand with this power and know that any day, any hour, our work can be totally broken or enhanced, and we learn just to get up again and keep going. In my turn at the tiller of Bonavaree I have been smashed down and broken, I have been lifted up and praised – these are the valleys and peaks of farming life.

Farmers get right up close and personal with the basic elements of life and the natural world and give them a bit of help. We produce huge volumes of quality food for our consumers and know that they hold our product in the highest regard.

At Bonavaree we know that today, by the hour, we are making our land better for future generations. We have made such advances. I remember when our sheep needed our help to lamb, yet over time we developed the breed so they can do it all wonderfully by themselves, mostly producing twins. And I remember systems where water was only half as useful as it is today.

Today I look at Bonavaree with a huge sense of pride. On a daily basis I am just an observer now, just paying the bills and giving distant support, watching a wonderful team under Fraser implement leading-edge processes, day after day.

When social researcher Amanda Lynn came to Marlborough to research our crop of local entrepreneurs, she helped me gain such an insight into myself. Working with Amanda taught me that I needed to feel value in my work, and when I cast my mind back over my time in farming my value cup overflows. Winning the South Island Farmer of the Year – for me the Rugby World Cup of farming – and the Lancorp Agriculture Communicator of the Year are among my greatest times. Communication is the only way to help others grow their ability, and that’s what I want to do now: turn other people to face the future, not just pat themselves on the back about the past. If you believe, as I do, that everything created will fail if it is not attended to, then you will also agree with me that the future creates the present. When you can see where you want to be in the future you will make the best daily decisions to get to that place. So in my mind there is no place called the finish, no place called ‘made it’, because as soon as you are there, it’s time to start the next job, to check some other part of the system, the work, the challenge.