Tractor Ted, the loveable little green tractor and children’s farming superhero, originated when young Mum, Alexandra Heard, was constantly asked to stop the car by her young children when they saw farm machines working in the fields.
This small seed of an idea grew when Alexandra identified that there was nothing ‘real life’ available for young children on television to watch, understand and engage with about farming and the countryside.
A conversation with a childhood farming friend, David Horler, who ran an organic farm in Somerset and… Tractor Ted was born!
“We look back to the early days of Tractor Ted with fond nostalgia!” explained Alexandra. “I, young mum with two sons and a daughter and David, farmer and dad of a young boy and girl had zero experience of building a children’s brand or indeed of putting films together and yet, we were about to embark on the biggest adventure of our lives! Luckily, our experience and knowledge of farming was much better than our filming skills and our understanding of what our children wanted – they were the driving force – was better again (if only so we could answer the ‘Why?, What? and How?’ that we were faced with daily)!
“For our first film we decided to cut our teeth at making a pilot version, which we simply called, “Tractorland”.
“It took a year with the help from two students studying media at Bath University, a scroll through Yellow Pages to find a cameraman, David’s neighbour was a wannabe actor and became the voice of Tractor Ted, and we hired a couple of walkie talkies to get us through the day! We built up footage including filling a tractor with diesel, hitching the plough, ploughing the field, seed drilling, seeing the wheat grow and going to the local bakery to watch it being made into bread and, although challenging, exhausting, overwhelming and mind-numbing are just a few of the words that describe that first day of filming, we also found it exhilarating, inspiring and downright fun!
“It was then off to an editing suite at a friend’s corporate video offices in London, we took out an advertisement in Farmers Weekly and sold 300 copies of the video in a week. Could we be onto something…?!”
15 or so years on and this simple idea of introducing young children to real life farming has proven a winner not only with children but with parents, grandparents and teachers alike. Tractor Ted is a national (and international) favourite and has inspired, educated and entertained hundreds of thousands of children over the years about life on the farm.
We have now expanded into gifts, toys and clothing and we run over 100 live events and around 100 cinema screenings over the year fans have permanent Tractor Ted Little Farms across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
Tractor Ted has a loyal following of high profile ambassadors who volunteer their support, such as Ben Fogle, Clare Balding, AP McCoy and William Fox-Pitt. They have all witnessed the passion that small children develop for the little green tractor. How much enjoyment they get from his films and the fantastic information they pick up when watching over and over again! As Ben Fogle says, “Our son is obsessed with Tractor Ted and it’s taught him all about life on a farm. He can name all the different machines and he’s only two! An absolute essential for boys and girls.”
“I continue to write and direct all the new Tractor Ted films and books because whenever I see something happening in the countryside, I’m always thinking how children would enjoying watching it or learning about it too!” Alexandra explained.
“David continues to run the farm where Tractor Ted is situated – it couldn’t be more ‘real life’ as we can see the cows in the field by the office, watch Farmer Tom drive the tractor into the yard to deliver the hay or offload the grain or even down tools when the sheep get out and we help herding them back into the field!” she continued.
“We are privileged to live and work in the countryside and have the ability to hopefully inspire children whatever their background, their heritage or their circumstances into understanding what happens on the farm from combining to cheese-making!
“We look forward to taking you with us…!”