Minette lives just outside Salisbury and tells of a happy childhood as the daughter of a tenant farmer. She loved the farming life but her father encouraged her to seek further opportunities when she left school and college. Initially she was an amateur jockey and assistant trainer to David Elsworth and James Toller. She won well over 30 races in her own right which included racing at Salisbury Racecourse. She then decided to seek a career in catering and trained for this and indeed spent 20 years in the business. The call to the life of a farmer was always in the back of her mind and she finally became the main lead farmer on her fathers tenant farm. A tenant farmer does not own the land…. they ‘work’ the land in partnership creating income, owning the livestock and can undertake any other fund-raising initiatives on the land in agreement with the owner.
She set about rebuilding an old pair of cottages and later a barn which were subsumed in to the overall property, becoming a suitable venue to be used for weddings. It is now an active business welcoming wedding couples to enjoy their special event there.
Still farming Minette was encouraged to become involved on the National Farmers Union leadership team. She is currently President of the NFU and can be heard regularly on Radio 4, and even a Desert Island Disc programme! She was particularly appreciated by the NFU leadership as she can speak for tenant farmers and can offer a different perspective from landowners to the farming issues of the day.
Her last year has been full of enormous challenges, with the impact of BREXIT and changes that this has brought as well as the global pandemic which has put the future of our food in a very uncertain position..
The Covid pandemic impacted on many areas of farming life and she had to negotiate with governments and national organisations to ensure quality of products. She sees one upside of the pandemic being the way people have come to appreciate the countryside more, walking and enjoying places that they had never explored before.
She comments on the approach of vegans and vegetarians to meat products in a very encouraging and helpful way. Do listen to her thoughts.
Hear on the podcast how Minette feels about facing discouraging life issues such as the impact of her son’s illness on her family. To cope she began to run! After training and gaining stamina she ran not one but three marathons raising thousands of pounds for Child Diabetes.
It is encouraging to find such a talented and high-profile woman living in and around Salisbury.