As part of the GREAT New Farmers Network, we've been providing FREE one-to-one support to farmers, growers and advisors taking their 1st and 2nd steps (and even 3rd steps!) in agroecology and regenerative agriculture across Gloucestershire.
We’d like to share one of the positive stories from this part of the project!
that provides free proactive and practical support to 10 individuals. This works out
to be approx. 16 hours of direct support per farmer/grower, which is expected to
be split down over several months.
The aim is to develop an understanding of an individual's needs so we can support
them by signposting to useful information, practical guidance, useful connections
and existing resources, or so we can develop new ones. We haven’t promised to have all the answers right away, but with our networks combined, we aim to find the support a participant needs to help speed up their progress. Miriam has kindly said we can share a little about the journey she went on by taking part in this programme.
Miriam came to as a Land Management student in her 2nd year at the Royal Agricultural University and with a wealth of experience in small scale organic and biodynamic agriculture. GREAT New Farmers Network Project Manager, Becky Grove, met Miriam at Emergent Generation at FarmED in autumn 2022 and thought that she’d be a perfect candidate.
We loved how one of her key goals is to get her BSc Land Management degree so that she can work with the agroecological sector on how they might grow and stay ahead of the change that is happening.
As part of this programme, we were able to offer Miriam six coaching sessions to help her navigate securing experience in the land management sector and/or part time employment alongside her studies. She worked with GREAT’s very own Fiona Galbraith of Ruralink who specialises in coaching and mentoring for the sector. During a reflective conversation following the course of these sessions, Miriam said:
"Whilst I have a way to go, a lot of the fog has lifted and I can see more potential
than I did before. I’ve gained more confidence and quite honestly, I think I would
have left my course if it wasn’t for this.
"It is tough being one of the only ones in the class with a less traditional goal such as
mine. But being part of the GREAT network means that I now know more people
around me that are involved in the agroecological and regenerative landscape in
the South West. I now don’t feel so alone with it and it’s given me even more of a
reason to be doing the course."
Miriam told us that at first, she wasn’t sure what she could bring to the programme, as she hadn’t got a fully formed idea or business. But we’re so glad that she came to us, as that isn’t what we expected of new entrants at all! We are obviously thrilled that she feels that this opportunity has added a whole new dimension to her course and has complemented it well.
By being accountable to actions over the course of 6 sessions, Miriam says this helped her focus on what she wants to do and what she can do. Whilst the sessions haven’t yet resulted in securing the experience she seeks; she has expanded her network and learnt the central tools to be able to pave the way for what comes next. Rather than thinking, ‘let’s see what happens’, she has learnt to reframe this with a professional lens - ‘let’s see what I now need to do next to make it happen.’
She tells us how she now knows where to find more resources to help her, how to approach people professionally and how to present her skills and experience with more confidence.
Miriam has learnt how complex and nuanced the space is, and has a new formed appreciation for all the characters within it. Overall, she has realised the value of creating and building a network as one of the most valuable things she has taken away.
As a result of being involved in the programme, Miriam has attended our New Farmers Network social, which has led her to meet more like-minded people locally and she is next set to join us on the Study Tour from Gloucestershire to Groundswell in June. If you’re coming along, do say hello. We are so happy to have supported Miriam on her journey and would love anyone who is interested in her mission to see how they might help her along the way. Whether that is work experience, connections or even a job. We need so many more people with her drive and dedication in the sector!