Female Hill Farmers of the Peak District National Park: Rebecca

For the duration of this project I am working alongside female farmers, focusing on those who use both their surplus bi-products and creativity to develop extra income within this uncertain agricultural economic climate. 

My interest in this topic stems from my mother being an only child, who had three daughters, meaning that our farm was left entirely in the hands of women. After my Grandad passed away and left the farm to my mother, I began to notice the intricate changes in the running of the land. A woman’s touch.  Surplus eggs were no longer going rotten as they were being used in cooking, along with the excess berries, fruit and vegetables. Wool was no longer an unused by-product, it became an integral product of the farm, with my mother learning how to hand-spin it and dye it herself. Because the hill-farm only runs sufficiently with the help of supplements by various government subsidies, every bit of extra income counts. Throughout this project I plan to document women within agriculture and the challenges and barriers that they face and the methods they use to overcome them.  When beginning this project, it made sense for my to begin with the female farmers closest to me, so I will begin with my sister Rebecca, who has a flock of Derbyshire Gritstones, which she breeds for both their meat and wool. Rebecca’s flock is entirely grass fed, using a rotating pasture system and throughout the winter she feeds them on hay made from a National Trust: Site of Special Scientific Interest land.   

I spent the day with Rebecca at a Derbyshire Gritstone auction in Clitheroe, where Rebecca purchased 11 pure bred ewes to put her tup to and lamb in spring. Derbyshire Gritstones are one of the oldest native sheep breeds in Britain, in the mountain and hill classification, the Derbyshire Gritstone has the potential to increase the agricultural productivity of the bleak upland areas of the north Country. Breeding Derbyshire Gritstones can qualify you into the higher level stewardship scheme, when farmed on disadvantaged ground. 

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