Bill is 52, and he’s a farmer.
He married Penny 30 years ago, and they have two children, who are both grown up and have moved away.
Bill and Penny live in their house on the farm, which Bill owns outright. He is a third generation farmer. His father was very traditional, and Bill went to agricultural college to learn about new ways of farming.
When his father wound-down to retirement in his sixties, Bill took on day-to-day running of the farm. His mother then transferred ownership to Bill when his father died. Since then, Bill has diversified, and now mixes dairy, free range chickens, arable and bee keeping. He has also recently planted a small orchard.
Bill’s mother, Alice, stayed on at the house when her husband died, and now lives in a self-contained flat on the farm. Bill and Penny support her, and Penny is becoming Alice’s de facto carer.
Bill is an avid reader and regularly listens to podcasts, particularly anything farming, countryside or agriculture-related.
He sees his role as custodian of the countryside, but he’s finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. He struggles to satisfy the changing demands from supermarkets, and the price of feed and seeds and machinery only ever goes up.
He sold the big barn to the Taylors a couple of years ago, which has given him a ‘cash flow cushion’, but that won’t last forever. He is worried about climate change and the increasingly volatile weather, and the bees seem particularly at risk.
Bill believes it’s possible to ‘farm gently’ AND spend less money doing it. He has high hopes for technological innovation, and thinks that technology can help reduce costs, waste and chemical usage (thereby benefiting the environment).
He secretly hopes that one of his children will return home one day and take over the farm.
Brexit: with the loss of subsidy from the EU there is intense pressure on the Government from the US and others to cut regulatory standards. If the lobbyists win, there is a serious risk that Bill and other British farmers will be undercut by low quality and potentially dangerous imports.
Bill is now 82, and has ‘officially’ retired, though he keeps active and still helps out from time to time.
Bill continued to diversify. In 2035, in an effort to adapt to changing weather conditions, he planted a vineyard on the south-facing slope at the top of the farm. After a bit of trial-and-error with different grape varieties, within a few years he was producing his own wine, which he sold at independent shops in several villages and towns across Hampshire.
He sold part of his land for housing, and several more unused farm buildings were turned into business units and low cost housing for the under 25s. He owns the land the solar farm was built on, and gets free electricity and a regular income as a result. He used part of the income from disposals to buy a small stretch of woodland which he equipped for camping. He experimented further by building several tree houses, which have remained hugely popular with holiday makers during the Summer season.
In 2030 Bill’s mother, Alice, died. One of his daughters, Zoe, returned to the family home to comfort her parents. She originally intended to stay for a short time, but Bill offered her the self-contained flat previously occupied by Alice. Zoe jumped at the chance of living independently in the rural idyll, and saw lots of potential to develop the camping / tree house side of the business further.
Zoe took over overall responsibility for the farm in 2036 when Bill retired. They swapped living quarters at the same time. The ground floor flat suited Bill and Penny’s needs, and Zoe, her husband Brian, and their two children enjoyed having the extra space. Brian worked from home, and looked after the children when Zoe was out on the farm.