Katie Anderson, 26, is a first generation farmer and owns Muddy Boots Farm, an educational, working smallholding. She also rents 8 hectares (20 acres) of grazing land in the surrounding area to produce free-range eggs, poultry, pork and lamb.
Business: Just 12 months ago I was handed the keys to an abandoned World War II cinema with a small plot of land to the side.
I am now sitting in that building and can hear my pigs snorting outside, with my cockerel telling the world to wake up… even though it is 2pm.
It is amazing the difference a year can make. It is even more amazing when I look back to two years ago when I had a dream of my own farm but no experience or idea of how I was going to make it work.
I do not come from a farming background. My parents both work in offices in London and I started working in property from the age of 18. I never felt happy, but presumed hating your job was part of life.
It was not until I changed career – not to become a farmer, but to train as a teacher – that I discovered my love for working outdoors.
Young people: I worked in the education department for a Wildlife Trust and discovered a passion for being outside and encouraging the younger generation to spend less time inside.
Combining my new-found interests with my love for animals and desire to spread the word about farm-to-fork, in 2014 I came up with the idea of Muddy Boots Farm, an educational, working smallholding.
It took me three years to work out how the business would work, find the land, save the money and gain experience. But they say good things come to those who wait.
From 2014 to 2016 I attended various training courses, such as paediatric first aid, food safety and animal keeping. One of the most beneficial was the FACE Countryside Educational Visits Accreditation Scheme (CEVAS), as the course teaches you everything from lesson plans to risk assessments.
Experience: I helped with lambing at a farm in Devon and with pigs and poultry at a smallholding in Wales. Unfortunately living in Essex means there are not too many farmers to call on, so I did have to carry out a mini nationwide tour.Fast forward to 2018 and I can look back on my first year on the farm full of pride. It was full of mistakes and lessons, but now I have caught the farming bug I am certainly not giving it up.
I have had 22 sheep, 21 pigs, 21 chickens and three goats in the past 12 months, and although I have never worked so hard in my life, I have not enjoyed myself as much either.
My hopes for the year ahead are to see my first lambs born on the farm and to focus on growing my free-range produce side of the business – so watch this space.