International Women's Day 2022 - Break the Bias International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8 March is dedicated to forging a gender equal world. It is an opportunity to break the bias and strive for a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. In 2018, the Office for National Statistics found that only 17% of farmers in the UK were women. However, this number had grown from 7% in 2007/2008. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we wanted to share some of the inspiring stories of farmers on the Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT)’s properties in the hope of inspiring the next generation: Elaine Spencer-White is the Farm Manager at Bere Marsh Farm in Dorset, a mixed farm comprising pastures and a newly-planted orchard. “My story starts with my great grandparent’s sheep farm in the Blackdown Hills in West Somerset. Farming is well and truly in my blood. Nothing compares to working in the open and being close to the land and seasons. It really is the best aspect of farming. “I trained as a farm secretary in the 1970s at the Royal Agricultural College, and was one of just 12 women on the course. My first job was at an estate back in Somerset before I moved to southern Africa for twenty years where I moved around countries delivering training on farming software and more general Agricultural Development work. “Climate challenge is the biggest challenge that farmers all over the world are facing. To any young woman who is thinking about a career in farming, I would say give it a try. We need to rise to these challenges and put the localism back into food production.” Betsie Edge is a farmer at Brays Farm in Surrey with Matthew Elphick and their seven-month-old son Albie. Brays Farm is a dairy farm that provides milk and yoghurt to the local community. “I was born on a farm and my grandparents were dairy farmers. I studied childcare at college, but when I had days off or got home early, I would help out rearing the cows. Now I’m running my own farm with Matt. “In farming, no day is ever the same and that’s one of the joys of it. My favourite moments are when a reared calf joins the herd.” “Being a mother and a farmer is challenging but fortunately Albie loves being outdoors and watching the cows. “My advice to a young women considering farming would be to go for it! It’s really rewarding.” Liz Wallis farms at Twyford in Sussex with Bob Felton. Twyford has a beautiful woodland and lake, as well as pasture. Liz also runs a popular B&B. “My journey starts with my grandmother’s dairy farm where she had 40 dairy shorthorns. She was quite a progressive woman, as most people at the time only kept around 15 shorthorns. She also installed machinery to make the process for efficient. “I studied agriculture at Seale-Hayne College in Newton Abbott, Devon, and was one of only eight women in a year group of 100 students. Being in the minority didn’t really bother me, and I still meet up with my classmates in January every year. We visit each other’s farms and talk about how everything’s going. Farming can be quite insular so it’s important to connect. “I’ve picked up a broad range of experience from working at lots of different farms during my career, including a dairy farm in New Zealand and a rare breed farm in the South of England. I now work part-time in a hospital, but I spend the rest of my time working on the farm and in the woodland. Being outside and farming is what I love. “I would encourage any young woman today thinking about farming to do it and enjoy it. Farming is hard work and challenging, but nothing compares to bringing a new life into the world and watching the seasons pass.” For more information about wildlife-friendly farming visit https://www.countrysiderestorationtrust.com/.