If asked to picture a beef farmer, the image that would spring to most people’s minds might not be of Hilary Bell, from Kells in County Antrim, but she is a passionate farmer, and equally passionate about local food.
Hilary grew up in Bushmills, not on a farm although farming is in her blood, with both her grandfathers running their own dairy farms. This gave her a love of farming from a young age.
Through her time at Dunluce School, Hilary secured her first farming job with local beef and dairy farmers. This inspired her to study for her National Diploma in Agriculture at CAFRE Greenmount, before travelling to New Zealand for a year to experience different dairy farming practices.
Now Hilary farms with her husband, Roger, on a beef and sheep farm that produces Farm Quality Assured beef, sold through ABP.
“The beef we produce is of high quality and has full traceability. That means when it reaches the consumer it meets all their expectations, not only for taste but how it has been produced. It’s important to me and my family that we know the beef we are eating is produced locally - and when out for meals we always ask where the meat is sourced from,” she said.
With two young children and a farm to run Hilary believes good quality beef is the foundation for family meals. “I enjoy making the traditional Sunday roast. I can slow cook the beef, while working on the farm, and then use the leftovers during the week to produce other meals like stir fries and curries. Not only does this save me time, it’s a great way to budget for the rest of the week.”
Northern Ireland Beef Week runs from 23 April to 1 May, and the UFU with the support of the LMC is asking the public to support local beef farmers and try out new recipes to discover the benefits of eating beef.