Alice Dyer grew up looking after a herd of Jersey cows at her home in Kent and has always been passionate about the countryside. For as long as Alice (23) can remember, agriculture has been the industry for her.
Once she left school, Alice pursued her dream by enrolling on an agriculture course at Hadlow College in which she did regular milking and learnt how to lamb as well as covering machinery, poultry, beef and pigs. She combined this with working on an apple farm during the summer months.
Her lecturers encouraged Alice to further her education. After an offer from The Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester to read a BSc honours degree in agriculture, Alice left her smallholding behind and moved 130 miles away to the West Country.
“The hardest part was probably leaving all my animals behind,” Alice said. “Luckily I was able to take my two dogs with me in my second and third year at Cirencester, and they loved it. Finding like minded people with the same interests as me from all over the country was great.
“During my time at Hadlow I learnt really invaluable practical farm management. Without this I would never have got through university. My degree has enabled me to connect the practical work with the scientific aspects.”
Alice spent her three years at Cirencester joining in with the Young Farmers Club, beagling, playing polo and studying hard. She also developed a love for writing and journalism and has since been awarded a place on the Guild of Agricultural Journalists John Deere Training Award.
Last summer as part of her university course, Alice did a 20 week work placement. She spent 12 weeks at Whitehall Farm – a large sheep farm on Romney Marsh – lambing, drenching and shearing. Her final eight weeks were spent preparing for the shooting season at Kentfield Farm, a pheasant shoot and free range wild boar enterprise in Offham village.
“It was a great way to spend summer,” Alice remembered. “It allowed me to put some of the things I had learnt at university into practice and get my name out there into the farming world. I cannot emphasise enough the value of practical experience. Anyone can have the qualifications. But to truly understand the running of a farm you have to work on one. When you’re away at university you really do miss being on a farm.”
As a young woman entering the industry, Alice hasn’t found everything easy. But with passion and determination she has made strong contacts in the farming world and pursued her ambition while making great friends along the way. While most teenagers spent their Saturdays sleeping and worrying about clothes, Alice was up at dawn collecting eggs, feeding lambs and mucking out in her dressing gown.
Twitter has been a great networking tool for talking to farmers all over the world. Alice highlights the importance of social media for connecting with farmers while informing the public about the day to day challenges faced by producers.
Now Alice is looking forward to reporting for South East Farmer as well as managing her smallholding at home in Kent where she is hoping to expand her sheep flock gradually.
A keen young farmer, rider and fieldsports enthusiast, Alice will be at all the shows and events this summer. So make sure you come along to the South East Farmer marquee and say hello!
Follow us and what Alice is getting up to on Facebook and Twitter. If you have a story she might be interested in email firstname.lastname@example.org