You’ve finished college, done some time away from the farm and gained some business experience. Now you’re keen to put those lectures into practice before you get too engrossed in running the farm, but you’re still looking for that “original” idea.

For Lucy and Emma Reeves, two farming sisters from Northamptonshire, their original idea came in the form of a social networking site catering for country-minded people.

They trawled as many dating websites as they could before being recognised as “serial datists” and found a gap when it came to those catering for members with an interest in the countryside.

“After spending time in London, I realised how difficult it was to meet people with like-minded rural interests,” says Lucy, who originally trained as a translator.

“Many dating and social networking sites cater for different groups, however there was no real niche space for the countryside.

Broader appeal

MUDDY MATCHES – HOW IT GREW
  • May 2006- Idea
  • Summer/Autumn 2006 – Research into dating/community websites
  • Mid-December – Initial site launch
  • March – Full site goes live
  • May – >1000 members

“With the amalgamation of dating and community websites, there is now a broader appeal to looking online for friendship and potential dates than there was three years ago. We wouldn’t have even visited a dating website, let alone set one up.”

The first step was to establish a name which encompassed what they were trying to emulate. “It’s often difficult to define how rural someone is, there are so many different levels at which someone can be involved in the countryside.”

And this is how the pair came up with the “muddiness” concept. “It combines everything countryside. In essence, it’s an extra way of defining yourself, apart from the usual profiles found on the internet,” reckons Emma, who still works part-time on the family farm.

Furthermore, muddiness doesn’t just have to be reserved for those in the countryside, and can be gauged for those in towns too – so the only common denominator is not to have an aversion to getting dirty.

To establish a niche business product, the website needed to be unique, explains Lucy.

“We figured we were our target market – people who were interested in the countryside and wanted to meet like-minded individuals.”

With this in mind, the site was designed to encourage people to join who wouldn’t usually use such a service. Complete with its shooting, riding and general country graphics, it smacks of a site designed for those with a passion to be involved in all things rural.

“It’s not just for finding a date it’s a way of communicating. If people find someone, we still want them to use the site,” she maintains.

Free to join, the site had more than 650 subscribers on its official launch on 1 March. With subscribers now standing at more than 1000, there have now been other facilities added, such as online messaging and notice boards to make Muddy Matches into more of an online community.

On joining, members are asked to upload a picture and create a personal profile. “We have tried to make it as easy as possible by adding tips to allow those without much internet experience to get themselves across in a way which best reflects their personality,” explains Lucy.

“The site has to work on a number of levels. While essentially it is for meeting people interested in the countryside, for both dating and friendship, we hope Muddy Matches will eventually become a rural hub,” she adds.

HOW MUDDY ARE YOU?

What are the usual contents of your vacuum cleaner?

  • 0% house dust, 80% mixture of animal hair, feathers and mud.
  • 60% house dust, 40% mud and cat/dog/horse hair.
  • 90% house dust, 10% glitter from last night’s clubbing.

What items mostly take up your wardrobe?

  • Designer suits and trendy labels.
  • Fleeces and jeans in various states of disrepair, oh and a few work clothes.
  • Boiler suits, checked shirts, holey jumpers, cords and tweed for best.

It’s 5.30pm on Sunday, you’ve just got home, but you’ve run out of milk: Do you:

  • Nip round the corner to the 24hr shop.
  • Drive 10 miles to the nearest open petrol station.
  • Milk a cow

Back to ‘Farmers Weekly meets Blind Date’