2020 Winners follow up: Jamie Fielden, Outstanding Contribution to British Agriculture

Jamie’s Farm acts as a catalyst for change, enabling disadvantaged young people to thrive academically, socially and emotionally. Danusia Osiowy finds out more about its unique residential experience and rigorous follow-up programme, combining farming, family and therapy.

A man who has a massive heart. Driven, determined and dynamic. These were just some of the accolades attributed to Jamie Fielden who last year was named winner of the Outstanding Contribution to British Agriculture Award at the British Farming Awards.

Inspired by his observations while working as a secondary school teacher, he went on to establish Jamie’s Farm, combining his passion for farming and supporting children who face an array of hardships and challenges.

Jamie says: “I think what this place shows is the social good which can come from this kind of work. Our residential stays are huge fun and the children make memories they will never forget.

“Working alongside us on our farms, the children get the opportunity to feel purposeful and capable, a feeling which has been sorely lacking in the last year.

“They live alongside us in our communities, and experience a sense of belonging, again something which has dissipated as we have all been expected to stay indoors.

“They have the chance to develop therapeutic relationships with our staff who are trained to allow them to process the challenges they have experienced and return home and to school with an armoury of strategies to help them to thrive.”


Growing up on a smallholding, Jamie began his career as a teacher, but the initial spark for Jamie’s Farm came when he was teaching in a Croydon  comprehensive.

Shocked by the battleground the school had become, stemming from poor behaviour and a lack of engagement, he decided to bring some lambs from his own
farm in Wiltshire into the school and set up animal pens in the playground, charging his pupils with the job of looking after them.

“I soon realised it was frequently the children who struggled most to focus and maintain positive relationships in school who benefited most from the responsibility and nurture needed to tend to these animals,” says Jamie, who then came up with the idea of taking pupils back to his home farm.

“I had the privileges of growing up in the countryside and I wanted to take the particularly challenging children back to my mother’s farm to start to give them
experiences I had growing up.

“I wanted to see if that could give them some taste of hard work and how it feels to really engage, work hard and see the results of that.”


Using his own farming experience and the 30 years of experience that Tish, Jamie’s mother, had built up as a psychotherapist, they developed an approach based on ‘farming, family and therapy’ and, following on from 35 pilot weeks, have never looked back.

Today, Jamie, his deputy Jake Curtis and his team run five farms across the country working with schools and other organisations to offer residential stays to vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people.

Jamie’s Farm works in partnership with all its schools as it delivers its five-day residential stays, which are designed to improve behaviour, boost engagement and improve well-being by building soft skills, such as self-esteem.

With the steadfast help of a loyal team alongside growing demand from schools, the charity spans across four units from its headquarters in Bath to Hereford,
Monmouthshire and East Sussex.

So far, more than 7,500 children and teenagers have benefited from the scheme with astonishing results as 60 per cent of those who enjoy a stay are no longer at risk of exclusion from school after six months.

These measures of success, however, are not achieved easily.

Jamie says: “The biggest challenge for us is breaking through what can be quite a hard exterior.

“And so with some children it can take maybe up to two or three days for them to start to shed that, but that is where the skill of our staff comes in.

“We try to break that cycle, try to get them to trust and try to get them to loosen up a bit so they can really make the most of the experience.”

The variety and the pace of work on the farms is an approach enjoyed by both staff and children alike.

Each residential stay is around five days and activities are packed in to optimise the time children spend there. From the moment they wake it is all hands on deck as they go to feed the animals before they sit down and eat breakfast together.

Jamie says: “I think that sense of purpose really drives them forward and almost takes them out of themselves and stops them from worrying about their own problems and gives them a purpose and a focus which can make them feel really good.”

Every day on-farm there will be farming and cooking actives, gardening tasks and some arts and crafts using wool from the farm and materials which are available; a daily three- to six-mile walk is also completed.

Long-term change

“This is not just a holiday, this is something which is designed to make long-term change for those young people.

“If we don’t do that then we don’t feel we’ve been successful, even if they have had a wonderful time when they’re with us. And for us, the key measure is how they are getting on six months after their stay.

“We’ve had a lot of children who have never seen a cow or a sheep.

“I have had a child ask me ‘what are we going to do with these cow puppies?’ Kids really don’t know where milk comes from, they don’t understand where their
vegetables come from. But I would say kids are incredibly malleable and the way they get into it is incredible.

“We have had children who within  half-an-hour of arriving on-farm are delivering a lamb and seeing that transformation every week is something all of our staff never tire of.”

Building strong, lasting relationships with schools is key and the farm continues to keep in touch with them even after the children return back to academia.

Jamie says: “We record a lot of data around how they are doing in terms of attendance. In particular, we look at their well-being and how confident they are about themselves and whether there is an exclusion anymore.

“For us it is really important that they stay in mainstream education so they can get the support from their teachers that they need. The fact 60 per cent of them  are not ending up facing exclusion, because of us, is something we are really proud of.

On winning the Outstanding Contribution to British Agriculture Award, Jamie says he feels nothing short of humble to be recognised for his efforts.

Fantastic boost

He says: “Winning this award is the most fantastic boost in what has been a very challenging year.

“From a young age I have been desperate to be a farmer. This award now proves I am really part of the industry and I am very proud I have been recognised in
this way. My family, colleagues and farming friends have been so supportive, and they are the reason that me and Jamie’s Farm have been recognised in this way.

“It is so nice to be able to celebrate this and it provides real motivation to me and the team.”

A word from the sponsor

At NSF, we create customer confidence from farm to food, working with farmers to help demonstrate the quality of what they produce.

Our farm assurance schemes cover animal welfare, food safety, traceability, provenance and environmental protection so that consumers can be confident that the food they eat is safe and responsibly produced.

We work with farmers forming lifelong partnerships with generations in family businesses.

Our farming delivery and support teams are people with knowledge and practical experience. We deliver our services using up-to-date systems, which make the process more efficient for all.

In addition to the farm assurance schemes, we also offer health and safety audits and a social compliance audit, SMETA, to show your commitment to safety requirements and your farm’s ethical recruitment practices.

We support the Farming Community Network, a voluntary organisation and charity that supports farmers and families within the farming community through difficult times.