Ben Fogle is currently celebrating the great British countryside with Land Rover and has teamed up with Eat Natural to champion the plight of the bees. Here, he tells The Resident why, despite his love of travel and adventure, Notting Hill will always be home and London is one of the greatest cities in the world
Words: Bethan Andrews
‘There is just no other city so green,’ states Ben Fogle. ‘There’s even a big movement right now to get London declared the first urban green national park in the world.’ We have barely had a chance to make introductions, but Fogle’s overt passion for the environment shines through immediately. As the son of a vet, and a man who spends eight months of the year in the wilderness realising the fragility of nature, it’s perhaps unsurprising. But what is surprising is that it’s also immediately evident that this passion stems from his upbringing in what he describes as the greatest place in the greatest city in the world – Notting Hill of course.
Having spent a lot of time away from home in the last few months filming series five of his new show Lives in the Wild and also Countrywise for ITV, Fogle is focusing on a campaign much closer to home. In fact, one that can take place right in his own London back garden, and he’s keen to show people that it can take place in theirs too.
Fogle has teamed up with Eat Natural in order to launch a campaign to save the bees from further decline in the UK. ‘Most of my work is to do with nature and the outdoors, and the connection with Eat Natural comes with the fact that all the people I spend time with end up harvesting and farming their wilderness in whatever way that is,’ he explains. ‘Eat Natural wanted me to become part of their pollination campaign to encourage as many people in the country to take on a hive, produce honey, but also help save the bees.’
For this, Fogle is using an intelligent hive that uses modern technology and data to send information from the hive to his phone in order to ensure that it is in perfect condition for the bees. ‘It’s such a great asset because I get to show the kids that bees aren’t scary and that they are so important. It’s important to teach our children that every animal has its place, and not just fluffy, cute ones – a bee is not a nuisance insect and they are doing an incredibly important job,’ he explains. ‘My main drive is teaching the younger generation how easy it is to look after the environment and our beautiful world and to show people that you can have them in city gardens – you don’t need lots of space.’
This sense of loyalty to London is prominent with Fogle and it’s clear that it’s not just the environments of the wilderness that are the bee’s knees. ‘I’m like a homing pigeon and I come straight back to Notting Hill Gate,’ he laughs. ‘We live near Wormwood Scrubs and we are so lucky to have the raw space there that we do. I think there’s no excuse for any Londoners to go through a day without stepping on green grass and hearing some birdsong.’
We live near Wormwood Scrubs and we are so lucky to have the raw space there that we do. I think there’s no excuse for any Londoners to go through a day without stepping on green grass and hearing some birdsong
But it’s also our countryside that he wants to shout about, and his upcoming book Land Rover does just this. As with his own journey, the quintessential British vehicle has travelled to all corners of the world, but it will always be prominent at home in the countryside of Britain.
‘I wanted to show how this very simple, humble car has effectively saved the world as they are used by armies, police forces, farmers, search and rescue and so many more,’ he enthuses. ‘I love that a little car from Solihull has taken over the world. So I travel around the UK from Notting Hill all the way up to Islay in Scotland and meet all the people who have been affected and changed by this vehicle.’
Though it seems that Fogle just doesn’t stop still, he has a few plans to use the Eat Natural campaign to spend a little more time at home over the next few months. ‘Everything was heightened when I became a father, and realised that the life I’ve been living will be left to my children, so I need to make it the best for them,’ he says. ‘I want my children to enjoy the outdoors and this bee campaign means we can learn about respecting the environment together – as a father I love showing them the beautiful world that they have ahead of them.’
As the interview starts to tail off, Fogle reminds me that he will tirelessly campaign to preserve the urban wildernesses of London. ‘My lasting message is that Notting Hill must always be about the community, our environment and must always be a happy place – we, as residents, must ensure that we always carry that on.’
Find out more about Ben Fogle’s campaign by visiting eatnatural.co.uk