With four and a half million podcasts registered around the world at the end of 2021, you could say that podcasts are booming right now.
According to OFCOM’s podcast survey in April 2021, 50% of adults in the UK have listened to a podcast and 25% of adults in the UK do so at least once a week.
In our own research carried out in 2021, 31% of young farmers told us that they regularly listen to podcasts and with 47% of female farmers being regular podcast listeners, it isn’t surprising to learn that one dynamic duo is proving to be literally outstanding in their field… (bad pun sorry)
We caught up with fifth-generation farmer Becca Wilson (26) and Farmer’s Weekly community editor Lizzie McLaughlin (26) as they prepare to record a special episode of their Boots and Heels podcast for Mind Your Head week.
We started by asking them about how the Boots and Heels podcast came about.
Lizzie explains: “Coming, as I do, from a non-farming family, I am the “heels” in the Boots and Heels duo. Neither my background, nor my choice of shoes could ever hold back my passion for farming, though. I joined the agricultural world almost four years ago, in a marketing role for the poultry sector, and I guess my heels just got stuck. I was immediately hooked on this brilliant industry and I want to champion women in agriculture, help break down stereotypes, showcase the vast range of opportunities, encourage the next generation to get on board, help educate consumers, and bring a new perspective to the challenges the industry faces.”
Becca Wilson (Boots) adds: “On the farm, I’m really focused on ensuring rotational diversity and finding the best way to balance livestock production whilst keeping environmental and carbon concerns at the forefront of our decision-making strategies. Agriculture is currently very high profile throughout many media platforms and I’m very conscious of our responsibility to farm in a sustainable way.
“We set out with a desire to bring the many varied roles and opportunities in agriculture to a wider audience and to show that there is always a door open for anyone to follow a career in this great industry. Through our interviews and speaking to many different people, I could also see the barriers which confronted many people when living and working in the rural sector.
“Questions of isolation, unsociable working hours and gender equality have all been raised as concerns, not only for those already involved in the industry but also for those wishing to begin their careers. Our involvement with the Farm Safety Foundation is a great way for us to help in both addressing stereotypes and ensuring that people feel safe and can thrive within this fantastic industry.”
“The idea for Boots and Heels stemmed from our frequent conversations about how the industry is perceived by those outside of agriculture. We soon realised that the information out there isn’t always accessible to the general public and that a lot of content was driven predominantly by older males. So, we thought that, as two young females, looking at the industry from our different perspectives, we could help educate and empower people to get involved with farming, no matter their background. And that’s it – Boots and Heels was born!”
The decision to podcast rather than use traditional media came from the lack of not only female voices but also those from a non-farming background. The pair felt that a podcast could offer ways for people to listen whenever and wherever they wanted – on the tractor, in the office or on their commute.
From those in farming to the general public, the response has been incredible with listeners from all walks of life learning, supporting and engaging with their content. The recent acquisition by Farmers Weekly has opened up new audiences and new guests to the duo including legendary rugby referee and NFYFC President Nigel Owens MBE, BBC Countryfile’s Adam Henson and NFU President Minette Batters.
On the subject of how they would like to see Boots and Heels benefiting the farming industry, Lizzie says: “We hope that Boots and Heels can offer more than just an entertainment show. We want to educate, inspire, and spark conversations that are needed to move the industry forward. We also want to take people on the journey with us because the industry is about the amazing people that make it.”
“The topic of mental health in farming is something that we believe is becoming more openly discussed but still feel there’s more we can be doing.” She continues.
“We want to use our voices and social media platforms to help break the stigma. Whether you’re a farmer in the field, a project manager, a journalist or have any other role in agriculture, everyone has their own battle and everyone should be supported.”
Becca agrees: “Isolation is a big factor, and we think that many people can now understand the toll this can take after the effects of the pandemic. We believe that every opportunity to talk about the importance of mental wellbeing is crucial and that any message of support, kind social media post or check-in with someone you know – however small a gesture it may feel – can make a huge difference to someone else’s life.”
The pair are keen to use their voices to remind those living and working in the industry that you are not alone. As Lizzie concludes: “If you’re in that dark place, where you hit what feels like the bottom of a pit with no way out, please remember that there is support out there and you can get through it. Reach out to someone you know, go for that cuppa, step away from work, call a support line, meditate, and take time for yourself. You are important and someone will always be there to listen. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is one of the bravest things you can do.”
Boots and Heels are releasing a special Mind Your Head episode today and you can listen to this and catch up on previous episodes on all the usual streaming platforms, YouTube and at: https://www.fwi.co.uk/farm-life/boots-and-heels
You can also follow Lizzie and Becca on social media by searching @bootsandheelsuk.