In this blog post, Kate Dale, Co-ordinator of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network (pictured below), introduces our plans for a virtual Autumn Gathering of the Society’s Women In Farming network.
Whichever way you look at it, 2020 has been a momentous year. It would be all too easy to list the negative reasons why this is the case but in the spirit of looking forwards, this has been a year of rising to challenges, learning new things and perhaps taking the time to place that little extra value on what is really important.
Socially, we have all been challenged by the coronavirus pandemic. Families and friends have been kept apart or contact has had to be limited. The farming community is no different and losing our calendar of agricultural shows has been a real blow. Often the shows – and trips to livestock auction marts – are the only opportunities to spend any time away from our farms.
Thankfully, livestock auction marts remain operational for buyers and sellers and as we approach the busy Autumn/Winter sales period, it is imperative that we all follow the strict rules in place to ensure our own businesses can continue to operate and we can get our livestock bought and sold.
Our farming community has really risen to the challenges of recent months. Diversified businesses such as farm shops have adapted and farmers are delivering another harvest of quality, traceable food we all rely on, albeit with mixed fortunes because of challenging weather patterns. Fortunes amongst those who have diversified into hospitality have been mixed: it’s been a tough time for on-farm B&Bs and party house rentals, while holiday/farm cottages have generally fared better.
Technology is already at the forefront of British agriculture, with the likes of GPS guided machinery and increasingly sophisticated robotic milking parlours, but now farming families can add Zoom to the list of familiar innovations.
Leading agricultural organisations have adopted video conferencing software, from the AHDB and the NFU to the excellent Oxford Farming Conference Bitesize webinars. At the Yorkshire Agricultural Society too, this technology has become a daily method of staying in touch.
Although it is not the same thing as meeting up in person, by making use of software like this, we have been able to retain invaluable contact with each other.
Our role as a registered charity that supports the farming community year round is largely about bringing people together, to support, inform and inspire them, and so even though we cannot do this physically in a meaningful way at the moment, we are taking a different approach.
On the morning of Tuesday 13 October, our Women In Farming Network, will be hosting an Autumn Gathering for likeminded women (and men) who live and work in rural Yorkshire. This will be a free event lasting an hour and will feature a panel of inspiring women who work with or within the agricultural industry and rural communities.
Each of our speakers has been asked to address the theme of ‘A Momentous Year’. Giving their own unique perspective will be – pictured below (left to right) – NFU West Riding Chair Rachel Hallos, The Bishop of Ripon, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Olivia Spilman of Spilman Farming, Consultant Psychologist Dr Caroline Knott and Susan Briggs, Director of The Tourism Network.
To register for the Women In Farming’s Autumn Gathering, visit www.yas.co.uk/women-in-farming-autumn-gathering
The Women In Farming Network is part of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network which is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. The Network was created in 2013 following requests from women living and working on farms and related industries. It provides opportunities for women to learn from each other, build contacts and offer support to their fellow members.
Earlier this year, the Network launched its own private Yorkshire Women In Farming group on Facebook which now helps more than 260 members to keep in touch, all in a friendly, inclusive spirit of support.