Alison was brought up in Fersfield and although she moved away to Kent for 15 years after she got married, she’s back and has been working in her family’s farming business – G J Orford and Partners in Fersfield – for the last four years. There are six employees and four family members. The farm is very diverse – they own 600 acres but also have a contracting business using their farm equipment for fertilizing, spreading and tilling. They have a recycling business on which Alison spends most of her time. They recycle fertilizer bags, spray cans, seed bags, black plastic cover from silage – which has to be collected from approximately 200 farms in Norfolk and Suffolk – 98% of what is collected is recycled and made into other products. Alison has taken courses in agriculture in Stoke Mandeville Buckinghamshire and at Easton College, but what she most benefited from was learning to drive a tractor as a child – and also spending time working in the field with the team at Hill Farm who have helped her. Alison can, and has to, multitask from doing the wages to tilling the land. Seeing women driving tractors or lorries is not unusual today. I asked Alison what work an average year in the farm was made up of:
January and February – quiet months when time is spent on maintenance of machines.
March, April & May – spraying, drilling and fertilizing (crops are spring barley, wheat and sugar beet)
June & early July – busy recycling time collecting seed bags etc from the farms – machines are checked in readiness for the harvest.
End of July – harvest begins
August – oil seed rape is drilled and is the first to be combined.
September – the busiest time lifting sugar beet, drilling for winter crops (winter wheat and barley)
October, November & December – lLifting sugar beet and sprayingFarming she says has changed over the last 15 years with a lot of admin and paperwork – but the big advantage is the mobile phone. It means the office can be in touch with those working in the fields as well as those in the fields being able to be in touch with each other. The mind boggles as what way farming will have changed by the time Alison’s son Joe grows up.