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"We’re such country bumpkins”

The popular TV presenter may have left behind the big city but her life remains as hectic as ever.

It would be easy to attribute Kate Humble’s television success to her wide, Julia Roberts smile and the glorious mane of unruly blonde curls that she constantly tosses back as we talk in her publisher’s London office. But it would also be unfair because Kate is a woman to be reckoned with.

“I’ve read that I was offered a screen test on my second day in television, but that’s nonsense” she says indignantly. “If you want to work in TV you start at the bottom. You type stuff, make tea and sweep things or you’re a runner, so that’s what I did for a company that made corporate videos. I went on to become a production assistant, researcher, director and an assistant producer and it was only after all that experience that I landed a job at the BBC, researching for Animal Hospital and then the Holiday programme, who gave me the chance to present. So I’d actually been working in television for eight or nine years before a presenting job came my way!”

That first on-screen appearance was an unglamorous report from a barge holiday on a French canal, in thick fog and driving rain. But it did the trick because Kate’s presenting career took off. Her TV credits include Springwatch, Autumnwatch, Volcano Live, Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey and Lambing Live. She is also a qualified commercial diver and only the second woman to be appointed President of the RSPB.

Though still much in demand as a TV presenter, Kate has now embarked on an new venture called Humble by Nature, running courses in food, rural skills and animal husbandry on a 100-acre livestock farm in the Wye Valley near Monmouth which she and her husband Ludo acquired two years ago.

In her new book, also called Humble by Nature, Kate tells the story of their move to a Welsh smallholding in 2007 and their recent battle to buy the farm (which the council wanted to break up and sell off), restore the crumbling farm buildings and launch the courses that were Kate’s dream. Although most local people were supportive, there were clashes with bureaucracy and a few hostile individuals who regarded the venture as a ‘vanity project’. Tutored by local experts, the Humble by Nature courses are aimed at people of all ages. The first one, in hedge-laying, took place in March 2012, and since then Kate and Ludo have added foraging, keeping sheep, pigs, poultry and bees and ‘foodie’ workshops on salting and curing, charcuterie, baking and sausage making.

“What’s really special is that they’re held in the context of a proper working farm,” says Kate. “Our friends Tim and Sarah live in the farmhouse as tenant farmers and we run our courses in the beautiful new barn.”

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