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A living legacy: Tim Green

PUBLISHED: 09:42 27 June 2017

Pasture-fed pigs: Gladys and Audrey, named after Rebeccas Cornish great aunties, also live out on the coastal pasture.

Pasture-fed pigs: Gladys and Audrey, named after Rebeccas Cornish great aunties, also live out on the coastal pasture.

Michael Broyles RUFRAMED

Farmer and wildlife conservationist Tim Green died in a horrific accident in February. He was just 42. Here, his best friend and business partner Rebecca Hosking tells Chrissy Harris how she and her team are carrying on in his memory...

Wildflower seeds have been scattered across the churned-up patch of land on Village Farm where paramedics battled to save Tim Green’s life. It’s a small but fitting gesture for a man who had made it his mission to create more natural habitats in our countryside.

Just a few weeks ago, Tim, an “amazingly creative, brilliant, kind and witty” farmer, zoologist and former BBC producer was on his tractor working in his cliff-top field in East Portlemouth.

The trauma of that day still haunts Rebecca Hosking’s face as she recalls how she arrived home to find her best friend of 20 years had gone, killed instantly in a tragic accident involving the tractor.

“He wasn’t in any pain. He went looking at blue sky with the skylarks above him. We take a bit of cold comfort from that,” says Rebecca, 44, admitting she and her close-knit team are struggling to come to terms with such a huge loss. That day, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do. He was in such a happy place.”

Tim, a proud believer in the power of nature and the importance of wildlife, had teamed up with his friend Rebecca, a BBC wildlife film maker, to set up Village Farm three years ago.

The idea was to create a flagship, sustainable farm that produced top-quality food while working with the intricate eco-systems of the countryside.

The pair, who had worked together for years, travelling the world filming nature documentaries – including programmes with Sir David Attenborough – spent long, exhausting days getting their wildlife-friendly 175-acres up and running.

Helped by their three-strong team, Tim and Rebecca put up fencing, planted trees, created grassland to replenish the mistreated soil and established a rich habitat for the animals, bird and insects that live alongside the livestock here.

Their hard work is already paying off. Village Farm has built up a strong following of loyal customers who love the idea that their meat is coming from a chemical-free place with nature at its heart.

“We have taken a huge amount of pride in what we have achieved so far,” says Devon-born Rebecca, who grew up on the family run farm in Modbury.

Farmer and wildlife conservationist Tim Green, who died in a tractor accident in February. He was 42.Farmer and wildlife conservationist Tim Green, who died in a tractor accident in February. He was 42.

She built up a career as a camerawoman and met Tim in 1999 when they worked together on David Attenborough’s Life of Mammals, Life in the Undergrowth and programmes in the BBC’s Natural World series.

Rebecca says: “We went to film in some beautiful parts of the world but we also saw the devastation humans can cause. Both of us decided to stop doing what we were doing and help to change our little bit of the world. We wanted to make this corner a lovely place to be.”

And what a corner it is. The view is simply beautiful up here, all blues and greens and rugged rocks. Yes, the wind is blowing and it’s not even a particularly windy day, but the skylarks are singing and the sun is shining.

“Tim was so happy here,” says Rebecca, who can barely bring herself to talk about her friend in the past tense. “Unless you’ve lost someone close, it’s impossible to describe how this feels. We’re just taking one day at a time and I think it’ll take a while before the trauma of the accident goes.

“I just miss him. This last month has been the first time that I‘ve known the 21st Century without him. Tim was a real character. He was incredibly smart – one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and great at problem solving. He was quick witted too and always liked to have the last word. We’d banter all the time.”

After his death, Rebecca opened up Tim’s desktop and discovered a PDF he’d just finished before he went outside to get on the tractor.

It was a list of tree species he’d intended to buy to help add to the diversity of their land.

To Rebecca and her team, this was a small glimmer of hope, a sign that there could be life after death.

“We’ve got to carry on. We’ve got to keep making this place more beautiful. We’ve worked too hard,” says Rebecca, who has set up a page on the Village Farm website where people can help fund tree planting, provide best boxes for birds and bats, and buy wildflower seed.

“It’s so wonderful here,” she says, smiling. “I love stopping and just watching a Merlin hunting, just being part of the eco-system, seeing nature all around us and know that we’re helping to support that. We want to continue bringing new life into the world. Tim would have liked that.”

To help or to find out more, see village.farm

Future plans:

As well as developing their bee-keeping site, the Village Farm team hopes to create a vegetable garden and restore an old long greenhouse on the site. The plan is to turn it into a kitchen and host some pop-up meal events, where people can come and enjoy the farm’s healthy produce.

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