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Young farmer focus: 'Farming is not just a man's world' - Eleanor Durdy, 23

Growing up on a farm was the greatest gift I have ever received. I learnt to drive before I could touch the pedals, ate mud for breakfast and played conkers without a hard hat.

I became the ‘roller girl’, changed my first oil filter and found a passion for farming.

 

But as a girl, I was not encouraged to become a farmer. “It is not very ladylike,” they said. “You need a back-up.” So that is what I did.

 

I have worked during harvest on the family farm since I was about 13 and loved every minute of it.

 

Through that, I developed a genuine interest in environmental law and last summer I graduated with a master’s in law and became a barrister.

 

There are not many barristers who can say they have PA1, 2, 4 and 6 as ‘any other qualifications’ on their CV.

 

Challenges: There are a number of challenges facing young people wanting to get involved in modern agriculture, whether it be because of the price of land, machinery or the competition that already exists.

 

However, as a young female farmer, I have also faced additional challenges. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard: “It will be too heavy for you,” or, “She gets special treatment because she is the boss’s daughter.”


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I can tell you for nothing, I do not.

 

I am proud of my abilities on the farm and very proud of my dad for taking the time to teach me everything I know.

 

I love farming and I am now well integrated in the family business. I am enjoying some time away from law to focus on my love of farming.

 

Passion: Some ask why I bothered doing a degree, but I will return to law and my degree taught me much more than just a lot of legislation.

 

My plan for the future is to combine my two passions and help make change for the better. Then, one day, I will return to the farm.

 

To all you young, aspiring farmers out there: do not give up. This job can be so rewarding.

 

I am proud to say I have taken another path to run alongside agriculture, but farming is a way of life and I will never be able to leave.

 

And ladies, farming is not just a man’s world, do not be put off.

 

If they can do it, so can we.

 

  • Eleanor Durdy, 23, is assistant farm manager on the family’s contractors and arable farm N&A Durdy Agricultural Contactors, farming about 1,012 hectares (2,500 acres). She graduated from the Northumbria University last year as a barrister.

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