I am… a farmer
John Plumb on faith and farming
In early December, coachloads of year two children arrive on the farm to celebrate the birth of Jesus. As part of ‘Journey to the Stable’ – an initiative of Churches Together in Coleshill, Warwickshire – their trip begins with a barn door and an encounter with a grumpy innkeeper, and is followed by crafts, a trip to ‘Bethlehem’ accompanied by donkeys, and stories from shepherds and angels. At last, the children arrive at the stable, made up of hay and straw bales, and meet the wise men, Joseph, Mary, and possibly a real baby. Our farm facilitates this mixture of fun, awe and wonder as the children’s imaginations are energised by the best true story ever told.
I have always loved the land. The soil and all that it produces, both as a source of food and of nature, fascinated me from an early age, and left no doubt whatsoever of the existence of a creator. For me, there was never any serious alternative career. My formal education concluded with three years at Wye College, Kent, studying agriculture, which is where God stepped into my life. My revelation of Jesus Christ was so clear that I handed my life irrevocably over to him. This new path of obedience led to two years serving in the mission field, developing farming projects with the indigenous people of northern Argentina – an extraordinary and faith-developing experience. As if this were not blessing enough, just before leaving, the good Lord showed me my wife to be, and we began family life on a Warwickshire farm.
Farming is not an easy ride. We have had our share of ups and downs: hard work, crises, weather, disease, crop failure, regulations, people issues, and all the way the pressure of financial survival. Of all of these, the toughest is the trail of personal mistakes, and the recriminations that can accompany them. I understand why tenant farmers are in the top bracket of suicides. On difficult days, I have wondered how others can possibly live without the knowledge of Jesus, our saviour, who has a plan and a purpose for our lives…
John Plumb looks after Southfields Farm in Coleshill, Warwickshire
This is an extract from an article that was published in the December 2019/January 2020 edition of Reform