In our new online series, I Quit My Job To Farm, we look at people and families from across the country who decided they would leave their current lives and give it all up to farm.
Lynn Mann quit her job in therapy after finding success with her family’s on-farm diversification in to rapeseed oil.
What do you farm and on what scale? We live on a 287 acre tenanted family farm, just south of Edinburgh. We grow wheat, barley and oilseed rape.
In 2011 we started an on-farm diversification project called Supernature Oils, producing cold pressed rapeseed oil and infused oils. We sell our products to consumers online, at various shows and fairs and export to several countries.
We also supply many hotels and restaurants, and larger food manufacturers as an ingredient. Our by-product of pressing the oil is a high protein animal feed that we sell to neighbouring farmers which therefore significantly reduces any wastage.
What did you do beforehand? Before I became involved with the farm business I had various different occupations. From selling water filters to an aerobics instructor and working in television as a researcher and director. Eventually I worked in psychotherapy.
How did you go from psychotherapy to the farm? I was working at a psychotherapy agency in Edinburgh and took a couple of years out when my daughter was born.
This is when we started Supernature Oils and before I knew it, the business had taken off and I haven’t returned to psychotherapy since.
When did you quit and why? I took a career break after having our second child and was intending to go back when she was three or four years old. When my husband, Chris, decided he would like to diversify in to producing cold pressed rapeseed oil to add value to what he was already doing on the farm, it felt interesting and exciting.
I really like the idea of selling a product that we had produced on our own farm, and that we knew was of a high quality but was also contained many properties that contribute towards a healthy diet.
How did you come to live on the farm? I met and married the farmer! He is the fifth generation of his family to farm at Carrington Barns. I moved from Glasgow into the farm cottage with Chris, and then into to the main farmhouse after a few years.
Did you have any farming experience? I had no farming experience whatsoever. I had also always resisted learning to drive any of the machinery or being involved in the farm at all, as I knew I would get roped in at every opportunity.
If not, how did you gain it? I’ve learned along the way, especially regarding the production of the oilseed rape crop. Chris tends to do most of the production side and we have a couple of people now who help him with that. I do much more of the sales, marketing and PR side of things.
What is it about farming that you like? I love living out in the countryside. It is great to bring the kids up on a farm. I also love the fact that we can produce a fantastic-tasting product from our fields that sits in kitchen's all over the world.
What has been your biggest obstacle and learning curve? The fact that customers weren’t aware of what cold pressed rapeseed oil was for a couple of years when we first started was quite tricky. This meant that as well as promoting our brand, we had to educate consumers about the difference between cold pressed rapeseed oil and other oils, as well as sharing the story of the brand and product.
How did you spread the word about cold pressed rapeseed oil? We have always enjoyed meeting our customers face-to-face and make an effort to attend as many events as possible. Exhibiting at trade shows, organising talks, attending meet-the-buyer events and small community gatherings are a number of ways that we have spread the word about cold pressed rapeseed oil. We have also had a lot of help from family and friends who have spread our story via word of mouth. Supernature Oils is part of a group of cold pressed rapeseed oil producers called the Scottish Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil Group, set up by Scotland Food and Drink. The group is made up of a number of producers from across Scotland and together we are sharing our stories and why everyone should buy cold pressed rapeseed oil.
Is the industry what you thought it would be like? Working in the food industry in Scotland is a fantastic place to be. It is a vibrant, growing industry, with lots of fantastic produce and wonderful stories of provenance. I have come across many farmers in the industry, who have had to diversify into different areas of food production. In particular, I have found it very heartening to see so many young farmers working on farm diversifications and doing things differently, creating a different future for themselves.
What did your friends and family say? Did you have support? We have always had lots of support from friends and family since we started Supernature Oils. Many have helped us at shows and sold our products to their own friends and family and love our products and our brand.
Do you ever regret your decision? Never. It has taken me in a whole different direction in life and I absolutely love working from our farm and creating and growing our own business.
What does your future look like? I think the future looks good. We will continue to grow and develop Supernature oils. I have also set up another business which is a social enterprise called Food For Good. We are working with food producers across Scotland to generate revenue to direct towards initiatives and addressing food poverty in Scotland.
For more information visit: www.supernature.uk.com
Supernature Oils is one of the six producers within the Scottish Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil Group who collectively celebrate cold pressed rapeseed oil in Scotland and share why everyone should have a bottle in their kitchen.