WHILE most kids only see cooked turkey on a plate, JB Gill’s children know exactly where their dinner’s come from, warts and all.
And that includes slaughtered animals.
“We’ve had times when a fox gets into the pen on our farm and I’ve been down there with my son before dropping him to school, and he’s literally seen a field full of dead turkeys,” JB tells The Sun.
“You can’t shy away from it because it’s the reality of what food production is like.
“He’ll be there with me, helping me tidy everything up and mend fences so he’s seen absolutely everything.
“We’ve never shied away from how we produce food or how we eat food and if they grew up and they don’t want to eat meat as a result, that’s no problem as far as I’m concerned.”
Farm life saved kids’ mental health
The singer turned farmer, 34, who is throwing his weight behind a campaign to promote British apples and pears, says his own upbringing in South London was very different to the wide open spaces that his own family are now able to enjoy.
He added that living in the countryside proved a huge help during the coronavirus lockdowns of the last 18 months.
“We had a great time during lockdown because we were able to enjoy the space we have and that’s a blessing,” he says.
“When you go through hardship in times like we’ve had over the last 18 months, it’s important for the kids to understand and appreciate the value of our countryside, the value of green spaces.
“I believe that it made a difference when it comes to children’s mental health.
“I’m very blessed, and although lockdown was difficult for everybody, we were able to get through it.
“My kids actually thrived and did really well to get back into school not having fallen behind or anything like that and I put that down to the space that we were able to spend time in.”
Shaken by raid on home
JB’s idyllic rural life was momentarily shaken, in November, when thugs raided his home and reportedly sprayed an unknown substance in his face and threatened Chloe with a knife at 3am.
While he didn’t go into detail in order to protect his family, he says rural crime can be a headache for farmers.
“Chloe and the family are all fine,” he says. “Rural crime is an increasing problem, with people trying to protect their property from things like hare-coursing (the pursuit of hares with greyhounds and other sighthounds) which is heartbreaking, and dogs off the lead around livestock.
“If you live off the land and you’ve got a crop or a field that’s ruined, that could be a problem for the whole year and people don’t understand that.
“People should be aware, if they are out walking across other people’s lands, to be mindful and respect the property.”
JB, who has fronted farming shows on CBeebies and Channel 5, recently voiced his support for Jeremy Clarkson after the former Top Gear star said local farmers had little faith in his ability to branch out into farming.
“British farming and food producers are incredibly important and any light that can be shone on the industry, and any voices that can be lent to the conversation, goes a long way,“ he says.
“Doing my shows I’ve met people who work incredibly hard in an industry that’s incredibly tough and at the mercy of the elements and those people go through hardship all the time.
With the shortage of haulage drivers now leaving supermarket shelves empty, farmers need support more than ever and JB says shopping local and eating seasonal food could help alleviate the problem.
“Buying British is incredibly important,” he says.
“In the UK we’ve got an interesting climate and four very distinct seasons. On October 4, we went into apple and pear season and in summer we have strawberries and soft fruit, and there are wonderful farmers markets selling local produce all over the country.
“We don’t have to buy food that is imported all over the country or from all over the world. “We need to encourage people to really talk about food miles for the sake of the environment and looking after the planet.“
Turkeys over Strictly
While his family and his farm mean the world to JB, his pop career isn’t over yet.
“We’re a little bit older and uglier now but it’s been great to get back together,” he says.
“We’ve always kept in touch and musically it’s a bit like riding a bike.”
While there will plenty of music, dancing and banter, JB says the aftershow parties are off the agenda.
“We’re still very much in a in a Covid era so for us we’re trying to keep it as safe as possible and we’ve been very strict in that respect.
“We want to get all the way through to the end of the tour. We don’t want to disappoint anybody.
“It will be very different having our kids coming too because it will be the first concert they’ve ever been to so it will be extra special.”
Despite his return to showbiz, JB says he won’t be following bandmate Aston into Strictly any time soon – because his turkeys need him.
“The run-up to Christmas is the busiest time of the year for me with the farm and I’d need to have a bit of time out to do it because I’d want to win or at least get to the finals,” he says.
“But never say never – it’s definitely something I would consider in the future.”
At least there’ll be no shortage of turkey in the Gill household this Christmas.
British Apples and Pears is working in partnership with JLS member, JB Gill.