Supporting local is the way forward

North Down UFU member, Emily McGowan, graduated from Harper Adams University with a degree in Agri-Food Business with Marketing.

Emily put her qualification to good use by opening Millbank Farm Shop in Saintfield in 2019 with her parents Adrian and Patricia.

Emily developed a love of agriculture from an early age helping to sell turkeys and lamb from the home farm in Killinchy, Co Down. She quickly became interested in the business side of things and thinking of alternative ways to sell produce.

“When returning home, I couldn’t see myself farming field scale vegetables and the practicalities of large-scale production.

“Diminishing returns not reflecting cost of production and a need for the farm to become more efficient we took that farm in a different direction by diversifying in the farm shop. Over 40 varieties of produce are now grown on the farm for the shop.”

Emily joined the UFU to have contact with other farmers and to avail of the organisation’s technical expertise, support and knowledge of agricultural politics.

Millbank Farm Shop is committed to sustainability. From planting trees, to maintaining hedgerows and using as little packaging in the shop as possible, they aim to keep a minimal carbon footprint. Produce grown close to the shop is also key to providing a fresh, high quality offering to customers.

Emily feels that both Brexit and the on-going COVID-19 pandemic are encouraging people to shop locally and in a more environmentally-friendly way.

So, what advice would Emily give to anybody wanting to pursue a career in agriculture?

“Surround yourself with positive and like-minded people and get yourself a good book-keeper to help you manage financial systems.”