Farmer Tom Martin has said the Farmer Time project would never have been created without the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC) conference, which will take place in Edinburgh this year.

Martin said the initiative was launched thanks to the “jump start, leg up and inspiration” he received at the conference in Singapore in 2016.

The following year, in 2017, he launched Farmer Time (formerly known as ‘FaceTime a Farmer’) which pairs farmers with school classes.

Martin, who is an arable and regenerative farmer, had been supported financially by the East of England Agricultural Society to attend the conference, which is being hosted in Edinburgh this year.

Martin said: “I took so much from that conference. Without the jump start, leg up and inspiration of the RASC conference there would be no Farmer Time.

“It’s a gathering of like-minded people who are passionate about agriculture from all over the world, bringing with them all their energy and learning.

“As a result of attending I count as friends fascinating and motivating people from all over the world.”

The RASC conference will be held from Thursday, June 20, to Thursday, June 27, 2024, at the Edinburgh Gogarburn Conference Centre with the theme ‘Growing a Commonwealth”

RASC conference

54 different countries are expected to attend the conference, including Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, Uganda, Canada, India, and Jamaica.

There is set to be around 150 representatives at the conference, which is traditionally held every two years and draws the bulk of its delegates from agricultural show societies across the world.

“I can’t recommend highly enough attending the RASC. It’s on our doorstep in Edinburgh this year so get yourself a ticket,” Martin said.

“Local agricultural societies can be really helpful when it comes to funding places. Attending is a must for anyone with a passion to progress and learn. Connect with the RASC, reach out and be energised.”

While Tom attended the Singapore conference as a Next Generation delegate for the under 40s he said he puts great value on the lifelong connections he has made with people of all ages.

“Senior delegates have a huge amount of experience and a massive number of connections,” he said.

“We all interacted together and it’s amazing to meet people with wisdom who you can reach out to for advice and help. I really can’t recommend highly enough going to the RASC conference.”

Farmer Time

Martin’s Farmer Time programme has spread internationally, to countries including Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

It involves thousands of school children video calling their paired farmer every fortnight to link curriculum learning with life on the farm.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without that inspiration – the seed and spark – that I got at that RASC conference,” Martin said.