Turning farming dreams into reality

8th November 2022

Farming is central to the economy of Cumbria with more than 5,000 farm holdings in the county, and more than 12,000 people employed in the sector.

Faced with an ageing farming population, the county needs to attract more young people into farming, but it can be hard to get started.

The Farmer Network is encouraging young people aged 18-30 into the industry through its Young Farming Ambition programme.

The programme includes an introduction to basic business planning, one-to-one support and the opportunity to apply for a small business or training grant.

“My dream has become a reality,” said Jodie, who wasn’t born into a farm. She started by renting small plots of land to start her business and always wanted her own flock of sheep. Now she’s gradually building up her flock, alongside self-employed work on local farms.

“It’s amazing how much more confidence I have now, and the programme played a big part in that. It’s been very motivating to have a network I can lean on, and I’d say to anyone with ambition to develop a business in agriculture to find out about the programme – you’ve nothing to lose and a lot to gain.”

The Young Farming Ambition programme is supported by a £30,000 grant over three years and has supported more than 40 young people to date, many achieving their dream of creating their own business.

Holly Potter already had experience of farming through helping her family on their own tenanted farms. She started on the programme to gain experience and support to help her move forward with her own farming ambitions .

Just before starting the programme, Holly secured a tenancy on the Lowther Lonsdale Estate near Penrith as a ‘starter farm’ and with the help of her parents, she now farms 140 acres with 450 sheep and rears 80 Wagyu cattle on contract.

She found the business sessions and one-to-one advice valuable support and inspiring. A grant enabled her to afford the cost of training in the safe use of pesticides and to develop educational resources to host school children on the farm.