For those who don’t know me, I am a third generation dairy farmer at Dungworth in South Yorkshire, which lies just four miles from Sheffield and at an altitude of almost 1,000ft.
With my brother, and my parents, we farm 180 acres, with 90 cows, and deliver ‘Our Cow Molly’ fresh milk direct to customers and local consumers, this includes 20 coffee shops run by the University of Sheffield.
We also make 101 flavours of ice cream on the farm, and more recently, our own butter. I love farming here, as we have everything we need on our doorstep, whilst being right on the edge of the Peak District National Park.
Whilst farming is hard, we think we have made milk exciting, by connecting directly with our customers using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We don’t supply “just milk” but super-fresh milk from cow to customer in just over 12 hours. Milked tonight, on the doorstep tomorrow, with the connection to the farm where you know by whom and how it was produced.
That connection with consumers is so important in our modern society - for them and for us. That is why we have participated in LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) Open Farm Sunday for six years now, and I would encourage more farmers in Yorkshire to host an event, or help someone else who is taking part, on June 11 this year.
The positive feedback we get from visitors on the day is so rewarding. We love to show how we farm, share the truth about farming, and let people see, hear, touch, smell and have a go at many things, like growing grass and planting a pasture. It is a fabulous opportunity for people anywhere to visit their local farm, and they can find us and other farms near them at www.farmsunday.org
In addition to working on the family farm, I am vice chairman of Sheffield NFU (National Farmers’ Union) and active within the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group, where I recently gave a presentation on our business here in Dungworth.
Future Farmers of Yorkshire was established by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society (YAS) which continues to support and run an organisation that brings together younger farmers, vets and industry supporters.
I’m also a council member for the YAS, while last year, I was very proud to win the BBC 2016 national Future Food Award for our direct delivery milk.
I wish the Government would do more to encourage folk to value my milk. As it is, we are on our own and have to work harder to meet our consumers. Consumers often don’t realise it, but every time they buy food, they are casting a vote for what they want - effectively between “local and known”, or just “any food, from anywhere”. We offer them that choice, and thankfully many vote for us.
For young farmers starting out, it is particularly tough, especially to establish their own unique “brand”. It is something that has taken us many years, including nine intense years of social media to build our brand and reputation.
Mine and my brother’s children will be the fourth generation, hopefully building on and continuing what we have done as a family at Our Cow Molly.
For more information about the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org