Gareth Staples-Jones, 24, and Grace Collinson, 23, farm in Stone Fold Village, Accrington. Gareth works as a commercial account handler at NFU Mutual Preston and Grace works at Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary.
While Grace grew up on a dairy farm, I am not from farming background at all.
Just before lockdown was announced last year, we decided to buy seven cade lambs and see whether we could raise them ourselves on my parents’ 0.6-hectare (1.5-acre) paddock - we agreed if they all survived and we did well selling them in half lamb boxes then we would look at setting up a proper flock and business.
Eight months down the line and we now own a mixed flock of 35, consisting of native Lonks and a mix of upland breed crosses.
We have managed to secure a five-year tenancy on 16ha (40 acres) of land that was made available when Grace’s father Fred Collinson, dissolved his partnership which had been used to run the family’s dairy farm.
I work as a commercial account handler with NFU Mutual Preston as well as serving in the army reserves and being a locally elected councillor.
The team and agents are great at NFU Mutual Preston, and I am confident having a foot in both pots will help me with my own development in agriculture and insurance.
Grace works at Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary, helping to manage the well-being of the horses.
Farming is one of the few areas where there is no direct pathway into it, unless you inherit a farm.
If you are not born into it there are lots of courses or qualifications that will help you.
We are very fortunate to have had the backing and support of our parents, as well as advice from some very experienced people, such as Andrew and Martin Taylor in Helmshore.
As my dad always says: ‘God gave you two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you speak’.
We are looking forward to lambing next year and our five-year plan was to have a flock of 100, although we estimate we will be closer to 160 by the fifth year.
The value across all of this is the learning aspect, speaking to new people, creating relationships and taking on information about everything and anything.
We have already had a fantastic amount of support from D.T. Laws butchers in Haslingden and could not be more grateful for Darren’s advice and the time he took to help us.