AN INSPIRING young farmer who has built up a successful brand as an online food and farming vlogger, has received national recognition for his achievements.

Wallace Currie, a 24-year-old farmer from the Isle of Arran, is known by many as the founder of successful online learning platform ‘Rural2Kitchen’ and his commitment to educating the public on the farm to fork journey has led to him winning a highly commended award in NFU Mutual’s Inspirational Young Person presentation.

Read more: Rural2kitchen: Bringing rural education to the palms of your hands

The awards, which are in their third year, were launched by commercial insurer NFU Mutual in partnership with industry body Scotland Food and Drink.

They seek to uncover inspirational examples of talented 16-26-year-olds who own, work or study in the food and drink sector – highlighting not only the contribution that young people make to Scotland’s food and drink businesses, but also the importance of the sector to the wider economy.

Having originally intended to select a top three, the judges found the quality of this year’s applications so outstanding, they ultimately decided to recognise first and second prizes, along with four highly commended winners.

Wallace was recognised for his influence online in supporting the food and farming industry and also in trying to encourage others to get into the industry through his lecturing work with SRUC.

NFU Mutual’s regional manager, Mark McBrearty, commented: “Selecting a winner and two runners up from a record-breaking number of entries this year was too difficult, which is why we decided on an additional three awards. I am delighted to be congratulating Wallace!

“All our award-winners have not only done themselves proud, but they are also wonderful ambassadors for our world-famous food and drink industry.”

Wallace told The SF that he was shocked to hear of the placing: “Back in March, 2020, I was stuck in a job I didn’t see a future in, and here I am 17 months later doing what I love, sharing my enthusiasm for this amazing industry every single day through both my videos and to my students, so to be given some praise for my efforts has been really amazing.

“I’m in a team of award winners and have been so lucky to have an inspiring team around me thanks to my manager and good friend, John Flanagan, who also taught me as a student.”

Wallace began teaching at SRUC exactly a year ago and has so far only experienced lecturing behind a screen.

He spoke to us ahead of the new term starting next week and said he is excited to be on Barony campus at last, meeting his students in person.

Over the past year, he taught his students online from his farm on the Isle of Arran and keen to keep them engaged, decided to film a series of short videos from around his farm, which he could play during his lectures to give them more of a real-life learning experience.

He covered a range of topics from dosing sheep to a live lambing, from an hour-long fencing tutorial to how to spot signs of ill health in livestock. His students were so grateful for his efforts that it was no surprise that he was nominated for an online teaching excellence award.

Despite a busy year curating content for his students and keeping up with a busy lecturing timetable, he continued to grow his Rural2Kitchen online learning platform which he launched back in April, 2020, in the hope of sharing the farm to fork journey with the public.

We last spoke to Wallace in July that year and since then, his brand has grown arms and legs and he has now got 3500 regular followers and has reached 2.5m people with his daily posts, features and videos.

He explained how he had increased his reach in such a short time: “I post every weekday at 7pm as I knew it was important to show my followers that I was constantly engaged and didn’t want to lose momentum.

“In July, 2020, I started doing short features as part of a series called ‘People in farming’ hearing from inspiring individuals across the industry and sharing their journey with my followers. These posts were getting anywhere between 7,000 and 90,000 views and one of my early interviews was with Graham Parker – known by his nearly 1m YouTube followers as The Hoof GP – which was very well received.

“In November, last year, I was approached by one follower who struggles with dyslexia who said she would be keen to have something similar in a listening format, so I started to think how I could go about it. This was further driven by comments from a lot of people who felt that breaking into the agricultural industry was too difficult, so I wanted to give people an insight in to the sheer array of amazing career opportunities there are on offer.”

In January, this year, Wallace launched a new podcast series, ‘R2Kast’, which featured fortnightly interviews with inspiring individuals across the food and farming agenda.

“My series so far has 18 interviews and features a diversity of voices from research to policy, livestock management to farming innovations. Anything which is going to lead to food production, I’m going to cover it,” he laughed.

He has had some big names featuring in the series so far, including famous farming vloggers like The Funky Farmer’s Richard Cornock; Cammy Wilson from the Sheep Game; and Gareth Wyn Jones. Soon to be released in the weeks ahead, Charlie Jacoby, editor of the field sports channel and Pálína Axelsdóttir Njarðvík, a famous sheep farmer from Iceland.

Other well-known names within Scottish farming circles include the likes of NFUS president Martin Kennedy, RSABI’s David Leggat and Kenyan born pig farmer Flavian Obiero.

“I just love speaking to people,” Wallace continued. “I’ve featured so many inspiring individuals, the biggest issue I have is keeping it under an hour and a half.

“The responses I’ve had so far have been amazing and people have been enjoying the variety of topics i’ve covered and voice I’ve featured. I have 18 published with six more sitting ready to go, but always love feedback from my listeners on who they would like to hear from.”

As well as managing Rural2Kitchen, recording podcasts and lecturing his students, Wallace also finds time to record short videos for BBC The Social – an online short video platform which features young vloggers.

He is now producing one video a month for the BBC and has so far covered the topic of food miles, encouraging consumers to think about their food choices and the impact it has on the climate and another on the challenges facing agriculture around mental health.

Wallace concluded by sharing his aspirations for what lies ahead: “I want to keep bettering myself as a lecturer and can’t wait to be teaching in person this term and the new challenges it will bring.

“I always would love to grow the Rural2Kitchen brand and increase my following, and one day would love to get in to presenting and bring some of my core messaging around food and farming to a much wider audience.”

If you would like to hear more from Wallace you can follow his Facebook platform Rural2Kitchen or listen in to his R2Kast podcast series available every fortnight on a Friday at 7pm on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts and most free podcast sites.