Katie Smith Q&A
Read what young farmer Katie Smith had to say when we asked her a few questions about her life as a farmer.
1. Why/how did you get into farming? How long have you been in farming?
I don’t come from a farming family, so it has only been in the more recent years that I have really gotten into farming. When I was little, I had a pony and spent a lot of time in the countryside but it has only really been since 2013 when I got my goats that I started to get into farming. In 2015 I joined Wythall Young Farmers in Worcestershire and I have been an active member ever since. Through young farmers and also as a result of gaining experience on lots of different farms to support my application to study Veterinary Medicine, I have become increasingly interested in agriculture, some of my farming highlights to date have been lambing at a farm with 1300 ewes and doing my first bit of milking. I can’t wait to gain even more experience in the future though as everything I have tried my hand at so far has really interested me!
2. What is your favourite thing about farming?
That anyone can get involved. A lot of people have the impression that you have to be born into farming in order to get involved but that is definitely not true. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you have a passion and an interest in agriculture it is definitely something to pursue. There are so many different ways to get into farming, endless career opportunities and it’s such a diverse industry. If you’re aged 10-26 I would definitely recommend joining young farmers because you can make so many contacts and there are so many fabulous opportunities for young people interested in agriculture.
3. Your least favourite thing about farming?
The lack of appreciation and respect that farmers get, it’s easy for people to complain about farmers causing traffic on the road or to have negative connotations about the profession, but in reality farmers are some of the hardest working people! It’s a pretty big job feeding the planet and I definitely think they deserve a lot more credit for it than they get…
4. What achievement are you most proud of?
Recently, getting my offers to study Veterinary Medicine has been one of my proudest achievements - definitely from an academic perspective at least! But I am also really proud of being named the NFU Student Farmer Blogger of the Year for 2016, this was a little while back now but getting this sort recognition for my blog (that I often doubt anyone reads!) was a really proud achievement for me. I have had lots of mini-achievements through young farmers doing things that I never thought I would do like public speaking, cookery etc. that have made me feel proud too. I think it’s important to do lots of things that make you feel proud of yourself because it motivates you to keep going!
5. Why should we buy British produce?
In this country we have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, so why should we look anywhere else for some of the freshest, highest quality and most delicious food available? Buying British not only ensures that our food is travelling the shortest distance possible from farm to fork, but also that we are supporting British farmers! I’m a firm believer that there’s nothing better than some local, seasonal produce.
6. How do you think we should be promoting British?
I think that the best way to promote British food is to make it available to the public in every way we can, filling the shelves of the supermarkets with British produce will hopefully encourage people to buy British - and once they have tried it they won’t want anything else. Love British Food is also doing a great job of promoting British food to consumers from the posts about seasonal foods on social media to the work done by all of its ambassadors that come from all sorts of backgrounds. The campaign is doing incredible things to put British food and farmers at the forefront of people’s minds so that when it comes to making a decision about buying British Lamb or Lamb from New Zealand they will have no doubt that British is best!
7. What will you be having for dinner tonight?
Breakfast for dinner! This isn’t a typical dinner for me, but we couldn’t resist all of the local produce in the farm shop this morning. On my plate tonight is Burford Brown Eggs from Clarence Court, Bread from Lawrence’s - the local baker, Lashford’s thin breakfast sausages - from a local butcher, Worcester Warrior Sausages (if you’re local to Worcestershire definitely stop by Hillers Farm Shop, the sausages are produced from rare breed pigs at the Ragey Estate and they also have black pudding in them!), some locally sourced Bacon, Ragley Black Pudding and White Pudding, and of course some Heinz Beans.
*I can confirm that dinner was delicious although I definitely ate too much!
8. What are the 3 main things you like to achieve in the next 10 years?
Start (and finish!) studying Veterinary Medicine - I have firmed my place at the University of Nottingham so as long as my A-Levels go well I should be off to study there in September and I can’t wait!
Gain even more experience in different areas of farming - I have already completed a pretty wide range of placements on several different farms lambing, milking, looking after my own goats and even working with alpacas and llamas, but I would love to gain more experience on the food production side and with some more animals.
To make the most of all of the opportunities that come my way - this one sounds broad but it’s not every day that you get fantastic opportunities (like being a youth ambassador for LBF!) so I want to make a point of really making the most of these opportunities, spreading positive messages and trying out new things when I am able to.
9. How would you like British food to be described in 10 years time?
I hope that in 10 years time British food will be described as the nation’s top choice! There really is nothing better so to see everyone making an effort to choose British wherever possible would be fantastic - whether it be asparagus or Aberdeen Angus Beef. British food is great and hopefully by 2028 (if not sooner!) we will have everyone in agreement!