Of the 108 Talking Tilth articles I’ve had the pleasure of writing over the past ten years, this one is the hardest.
Because it’s my last.
I’m moving on, so it will be the very talented Lucy de la Pasture and Charlotte Cunningham who will share this space from hereon, I believe.
To take this space, to be editor of this magazine, has been the greatest privilege. I’ve totted it up. Over the time I’ve been editor, there have been 108 Talking Tilth columns. Overall we’ve brought you 2245 editorial articles. That’s 6077 pages and over 4,000,000 words.
The first thing I have to say is thank you for reading them. But I also want to give you an insight as to how they reach you.
It is a remarkably small, but incredibly talented team. You will not find editorial skill that surpasses what Lucy and Charlotte bring to these pages. They also bring a passion for farming and a yearning to explore what makes it better and more interesting. It has been so invigorating to work alongside them.
The people you don’t see are the freelance journalists and PR operatives we work with. There aren’t very many, and that’s because there are a few select people who truly understand farming, what it is to be a farmer, and what would interest the CPM reader. They have helped to shape change over the past ten years, as well as brought us the best stories – CPM is genuinely top of the list for something new and interesting in arable farming.
The other names you don’t see are the others who share the space with the editorial team on the left-hand side of the previous page. Peter Walker, aka Fred, has put every single issue of CPM on the page since it first started in 1999. Words simply don’t mean a thing until you bring them alive with design and layout. Fred not only has an extraordinary talent for fitting our ramblings on the page, but also has the most incredible patience for an editor who constantly pushes deadlines.
Angus McKirdy founded the magazine and is still responsible for almost everything it does. As such, he is almost unique in a world where so many trade publications are run by faceless directors who don’t understand farmers. It is Angus I’ve worked closest with since I joined as editor. He’s ensured the support and resource for all the editorial initiatives that have passed in front of you since, and it’s his singular drive to ensure the interests of the CPM reader are always put first that has made them successful.
A special thanks too to Charlotte Alexander, who has worked tirelessly to promote the interests of CPM readers and has been responsible for putting all the content online and for our email shots. Lottie is also moving on to pastures new – if you’re a Suffolk sugar beet grower you’ll have the pleasure and the benefit of her drive and energy.
One aspect that’s remarkable about CPM is the way we work with those who pay for it. It’s almost entirely funded by the companies who place adverts or support sponsored features. What unites the CPM team and the people who represent those companies is that we want our readers to have the information they need to make the best decision for their business. But it goes further – as a journalist in this space, you stand at the edge and look into what can sometimes be an awe-inspiring world of innovation. It’s a credit to those we work with that we’re let into that space to explore and to share what we find, trusted to do so without misrepresenting or giving away trade secrets.
And that brings me to those for whom I have the most thanks, as well as the utmost respect. Of the 3297 interviews I’ve done over the past ten years, 544 of them have been farmers. I have arrived on your farm, probably parked in the wrong place, pummelled you with questions.
You have unreservedly welcomed me, shared with me the thoughts that are closest to you about farming. Shown me the things on your farm that mean the most to you. That has been such a privilege and I have learned so, so much.
It’s a privilege, too, to write about it. By far the best aspect of this magazine is its readership – those who are currently reading these words. It has been so rewarding to share what I’ve discovered with those who are undoubtedly the finest farmers in the world. So thank you.
When I left practical farming behind and became a technical writer for farming magazines, I found I was better at writing about doing it right than doing it right. It’s no exaggeration that we’re now going through the biggest period of change farmers have faced for at least 100 years. The technical capabilities we can bring in make this an exciting and potentially empowering era of opportunity for farmers. So it’s time to move on from writing about what’s right and to start putting into action some of those ideas we’ve shared. I do hope you’ll come along on that journey with me.
Tom Allen-Stevens has a 170ha arable farm in Oxon, has written 812 articles for CPM and is director of communications and PR for Trinity AgTech.