Hannah Reddaway: Diversification demands time and patience

Whether it is agritourism, value-added products or renewable energy, diversification is a lifesaver for some who are facing the loss of BPS revenue.

It offers a promising avenue for more stable income streams in the face of unpredictable commodity prices, weather patterns and market whims and, having such multiple income sources, acts as a safety net against losses in any single sector.

About the author

Hannah Reddaway
Hannah Reddaway works part-time as a chartered structural engineer alongside working on her family’s South Devon dairy farm, where she has started her own sheep and meat box enterprises.
Read more articles by Hannah Reddaway

See also: Hannah Reddaway: Prioritising wellbeing is essential for farmers

As I’m discovering, it demands time and patience, though. Last year I set up Tuckenhay Farm, a business selling meat directly from our family farm to consumers.

I love engaging with the public and learning new skills and it’s particularly rewarding receiving positive feedback.

However, it is time-consuming and, while I’m putting in the hours to build the new business, I still have to rely on the financial stability provided by my engineering career – and juggle this with farming.

Establishing a new venture requires meticulous planning, resource acquisition, marketing and managing – all alongside ongoing commitments on the farm and to family and other employers.

Time becomes a precious resource, with farmers being pulled in multiple directions.

The risk of neglecting any one front is tangible. I’ve certainly seen this at times, such as at Easter, when I had to balance lots of meat box orders, returning to work after a few weeks off for lambing and a few late lambs.

I always prioritise my livestock and fit in meat deliveries around that.

I have learned the hard way that it is important to only allow deliveries and collections one day a week, even if it does mean I lose a little bit of custom, because I must realise my time limits.

New skills and knowledge must be acquired, such as qualifications and certifications in advertising and dealing with customers.

While grants do exist, such as the Farming Transformation Fund and local council grants such as the Devon Elevation Fund, obtaining them requires effort and time.

The requirements can also be demanding and restrictive. 

Diversification calls for meticulous planning, resilience and a pragmatic outlook. The journey transforms both the farm and the farmer.

I have certainly become more confident and less worried about engaging with the public.