Women in agriculture profile featuring Amanda Hanna

Place you call home: Armoy, Co. Antrim.
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I've got lots of jobs so not sure where to start! I am a mum, dairy farmer, farm shop owner and owner of the brand ‘Jam at the Doorstep’.

Farming commodity:

Amanda HannaAmanda Hanna
Amanda Hanna

Dairy farming. My husband and I farm on a 200-year-old dairy farm with 150 grass-fed dairy cows.

How did you become involved in farming?I had been on farms before I met my husband but didn't really get involved until we got married. After that, there was no escaping! After having my third child I stayed at home to look after them and to spend more time on the farm. I love farming, the milking parlour is my favourite place to be. I can go out and forget about everything else that I have to do and believe me, that’s quite a lot.

Earliest farming memory:

When I went to visit my uncle Joe. He kept pigs and I loved to see them!

Amanda farms on a 200-year-old dairy farm with 150 grass-fed dairy cows.Amanda farms on a 200-year-old dairy farm with 150 grass-fed dairy cows.
Amanda farms on a 200-year-old dairy farm with 150 grass-fed dairy cows.

What personal characteristics did you develop from farming?

Lots of patience and a very good marriage! Nothing ever goes to plan in farming. I also think you need a lot of energy for it.

Life lesson learnt from farming:

Enjoy the highs and lows, good and bad days. Move on, and don't dwell on the negatives.

What do you enjoy the most about the farming lifestyle?

Family time and being my own boss! I love being at home to help on the farm and wouldn’t want it any other way. I'm in the milking parlour with my husband twice a day milking 150 cows and we are kept very busy.

In between milking I am able to run my own business producing jams, chutneys, salted caramel sauce, curds and award-winning puddings. Two years ago, we opened a farm shop on our dairy farm so working from home allows me time to do this as well. Although my four children are at school now, I am still here for them most of the time. Having a farming lifestyle definitely means lots of family time and the children have a great time growing up on the farm and in the countryside.

Describe a farmer in three words:

Hardworking, committed and producers!

What would you like the public to know about Northern Ireland (NI) agriculture?

How committed and hardworking our farmers are. They put their heart and soul into producing fantastic food for us all to eat and enjoy. As a farm shop owner, I am committed to supporting local. I would like to encourage the public to shop local and support their local food and drink producers/farmers, reducing food miles!

If you could give farmers/farming families/farming community one piece of advice, what would it be?

Look after your mental health. There is lots of help out there and one example is local charity Rural support. It is a non-profit organisation helping and supporting farmers and farm families across NI (https://www.ruralsupport.org.uk/).

What would you say to others who are considering a career in the agriculture industry?

If you are considering a career in the agriculture industry I would say, go for it. I studied food technology and then food supply management at Loughry College. Before I stayed at home to be with the children, I had various roles within the food industry including supervisory roles, retail management and quality assurance. What I learnt in these positions greatly benefited me in everything I do now. Agriculture is huge. The massive food and drink sector in NI rests on the backbone of the farming sector which means there are jobs not just as farmers, but in industries supporting the farming sector.

What are your hopes for the future of NI’s agriculture industry?

I am hoping that the public will continue to support NI farmers and we will be able to produce as much food as possible locally. I am sure the industry will change but I am hoping that there will be a future for my children in the agriculture industry if that is what they want.

If you would like to check out Amanda’s farm shop visit www.thefarmfoodies.com. You can also find her on social media: @jamatthedoorstep.

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