Future Farmers: How Jane fell for work in food retail

We are very busy gearing up for Christmas, along with every other retailer in the land.

Fodder, the Yorkshire Agricultural Societys award-winning food hall and café at the Great Yorkshire Showground.

I’ve worked at Fodder, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s award-winning food hall and café at the Great Yorkshire Showground since it opened in 2009, starting as shop manager before being promoted to general manager. Having just turned 30, I don’t feel so young in the industry anymore but I am a member of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group, organised and supported by the Society.

After the best four years of my life so far studying at Harper Adams University College, I managed a small farm shop in Oxford. However when I heard the YAS was opening Fodder, I couldn’t resist putting in my CV. Lo and behold I was offered the shop manager’s job and I haven’t looked back since.

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All Fodder’s profits fund Society’s education, development and support in the local rural community. For example, along with other Future Farmers, I recently attended the Society’s Careers in Focus event where I talked to secondary school students from across Yorkshire about the many opportunities in the food and farming industry.

Jane Thornber is a member of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group.

I fell in love with food retailing at an early age: dealing with gorgeous food and getting to meet new people all of the time. We now have over 350 businesses who supply directly into Fodder - 85 per cent of what we sell and serve is from Yorkshire. Although it takes lots of extra time to order directly, we see it as well worth the investment. Our head butcher, Ben, goes out to the farms to personally select the animals. Having grown up on a dairy farm, my understanding and empathy with farmers has been a huge help.

Saying every day is different really is an understatement. Recently I’ve planned the marketing for Christmas - content for our new website, introducing a new hamper range and launching a new menu in ‘Fodder on the Hoof’, our takeaway station.

I’ve carried out various roles in YFC all over the country. The highlight was reaching national level in cookery, preparing a three course meal using only two gas rings in one hour, in a farm building. I have now joined the WI. The Harrogate Rascals formed less than a year ago and we already have over 90 members. WI really is enjoying a resurgence. I’m also involved with ‘Women in Agriculture’, another group run and supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

My message to British consumers is buying local doesn’t always mean it’s more expensive. Of course we stock artisan bread and lovely gifts but our free range eggs and frozen peas are excellent value and, like for like, cheaper than the supermarkets.

Jane Thornber is a member of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group.

Jane Thornber is a member of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group which was established by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. The Society supports and runs the organisation which brings together younger farmers, vets and industry supporters. For more details, email [email protected]