King Charles inspired his love for sustainable agriculture, says Dee Nolan


A South Australian farmer and former international journalist says her passion for sustainable farming was inspired by her years of contact with the new King Charles.

One exceptional day, Dee Nolan was taking a group of readers to Highgrove Estate, owned by the then Prince, to interview him about organic farming.

After visiting the estate several times, she was leading the tour when the prince said to her, “Dee, I think you know my farm better than I do”.

“It was just that kind of warm comment, that generous comment, I’ll always remember that,” Ms. Nolan said.

The Naracoorte producer first met Charles in the mid-1990s while working as editor of You Magazine, a leading UK food content publication with a readership of six million.

Dee Nolan talks to then Prince Charles in Adelaide during his visit in 2012. He met food producers and winemakers from South Australia. (Provided: Dee Nolan)

At the time, the food climate in the UK was volatile, with uncertainty around food production due to the prevalence of mad cow disease.

Ms Nolan said people were worried about whether they could trust the source of their food supply.

“At You Magazine, we’ve had very concerned readers telling us, how do we know if we can buy beef that we can trust that won’t contain mad cow disease,” she said.

“We started doing a lot of research on food production and ended up in organic farming. With the way the animals are raised organically, there is no danger of mad cow disease. “

Ms Nolan first met King Charles after The Magazine started sponsoring organic food awards and then Prince became the awards sponsor.

She said the then prince had a saying, “Seeing is believing”, which demonstrated his foresight as an environmentalist.

Ahead of the curve

Ms Nolan said King Charles was ‘ahead of the curve’ with the introduction of organic and sustainable farming he practiced on his Cotswold estates.

“He opened his farm to select groups of interested people because he was also a pioneer in the field of homeopathic treatments for animals, and there would be farm walks with his farm manager,” he said. she declared.

“I rather brazenly asked if it would be possible to take some of my readers to the farm, expecting the answer to be no, but he said yes.”

Every year for the four years before Dee left the magazine, she took groups of readers every summer three or four times to tour the estates.

She said King Charles was always happy to chat with touring guests, and on many occasions Ms Nolan would have private tours of the gardens with the couple connecting over their shared passion for agriculture and the organic world.

“We had many conversations, and they were always very inspiring and warm.”

a man in a suit and a woman in a brown blazer walk in the garden of a country estate
Prince Charles at the time allowed You Magazine readers to visit Cotswold Highgrove. (Provided: Dee Nolan)

Ms Nolan said the royals had a long history and passion for farming, with their families born and raised on large farming estates.

“I had just looked through a book about Highgrove, and there’s a wonderful picture of young Harry and William with one of the farmers delivering a lamb,” she said.

“We also read a lot now about the late Queen’s very deep connection to horses.”

“I think all King Charles has said and demonstrated is that he has a deep spiritual connection to the countryside. It’s very important to him.”

Camilla stands with a line of uniformed men in front of an ornate house covered in vines and plants.
Highgrove House is in the Duchy of Cornwall, which comprises 52,449 hectares of land spread across 20 counties. (Reuters: Geoff Pugh/Pool)

Ms Nolan said she learned a lot from her time with the King.

“Growing up on the farm where I have now returned to live, farming has always been a very big part of me.”

“At the farm, I was really committed to what I saw as not only organic farming and sustainable farming, not just with his farm, but with the new era of sustainable farmers that I met through him. and that connection at the time.”

Ms Nolan said the King’s passion for the environment went beyond just farming.

“I was really interested in working with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

“It’s not just the zoo, where there are a few endangered breeds, there was a much deeper reason to keep a lot of those genetics up to date and that affected me,” she said. declared.

When Dee left journalism, returned home and bought her old family farm in Naracoorte, she converted much of it to organic produce, inspired by her time in Cotswolds Highgrove.

“I now have a doll sheep stud, and the doll sheep was a heritage sheep that almost died out,” she said.

“This time, very good, kind of explained how my life went after that.”

Dee Nolan moves his flock of sheep south.
Dee Nolan moves his flock of sheep from the south, the same breed his father used to lead.(ABC News: Tony Hill)

Ms Nolan said she expected King Charles to be a “knowledgeable and empathetic king”, as evidenced by his work with patronage, charities and organisations.

“We only see public occasions and photo opportunities, but behind the scenes they work closely with these organizations,” he said.

Ms Nolan said King Charles had a deep understanding of the human condition during his years of charity work.

“He has shown his willingness to connect and help over the decades, through his commitment to agriculture, his patronage of some kind of rare breed trust, livestock, ensuring that the gene pool don’t get too small and too tight,” she said.

“He has a very deep knowledge of the people of whom he will be king.”


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