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Autumn adventures on Jimmy's Farm

Prudence Wade

Jimmy Doherty loves autumn. “When it’s a long, lingering, golden autumn,” the telly presenter explains.

“Nothing worse than when it’s damp and drizzly, and then it’s over and you’re in winter.”

Doherty has been presenting shows on TV for over 15 years, you might recognise him from Food Unwrapped, and Jamie & Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast – presented alongside childhood friend Jamie Oliver.

And the season is perhaps even more magical for Doherty because he lives on a sprawling Suffolk farm near Ipswich, complete with an exotic wildlife park – no doubt a good place to see the “mist in the morning and the leaves change”, which he loves.

It’s a busy time of year for him too – well documented in his new TV series, Autumn at Jimmy’s Farm, which offers a behind the scenes look at life on the farm. We caught up with him to find out more…

What happens on the farm during autumn?

“In farming calendar terms, it’s all about the arrival of our turkey,” says Doherty.

“We produce anything between 7,000 and 9,000 turkeys depending on the orders, free range.”

It’s hard not to draw comparisons between Doherty and his friend Oliver – both talk at a million miles an hour and are obviously passionate about their specialist subjects, which for Doherty is animals and farming. He even manages to sound enthusiastic about the fact autumn is mating season.

However, the excitement only goes so far – even Doherty isn’t keen on facilitating the mating of billy and nanny goats, saying with an explosive laugh: “Billy goats stink so badly!”

His favourite autumnal food…

Right now, there’s a lot of pumpkin on Doherty’s table – not least because “the kids have carved a lot!”

“I’ve started growing lots of pumpkins at the farm,” he says. “I do love a pumpkin soup, that’s lovely, or spiced roasted pumpkin. I keep the seeds and tend to dry them and roast them, and they’re fantastic on salads. Or I keep the seeds and plant them next year.”

When the days get darker and our energy starts to slump, as well as eating seasonal produce Doherty is also on the hunt for warming, filling food. He says: “It all turns to quite hearty foods, you want that energy to get through those colder days, so my kids will have things like haggis and mashed potato.

“It’s game season, so pheasant, and then you can’t beat a really good roast on a Sunday when it’s cold outside.”

After being shut to visitors during the first lockdown, Doherty’s farm is back open to the public. He wants people to “understand the importance of the natural environment, not only in maintaining the wildlife and biodiversity, but also in maintaining us,” he explains.

Doherty wants it to become clear where our food comes from – so what you eat in his restaurant “has come from the fields outside”, he says.

“And that’s come from the grass that’s grown. And that’s come from the manure that’s put back into the soil and the interaction with the natural environment – biodiversity helps drive all those things.”

It’s about “having a really healthy quota of different plant and animal species.”

Autumn at Jimmy’s Farm airs on Wednesdays at 8pm on Channel 4, or catch up with the series on ALL4.

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