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Essex couple who built livestock business from scratch scoop county award

PUBLISHED: 15:17 22 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:17 22 August 2018

Women in farming feature - Verity Sharp at her new farm near Halstead. Picture here with husband Michael and son Archie. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Women in farming feature - Verity Sharp at her new farm near Halstead. Picture here with husband Michael and son Archie. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A young Essex couple have scooped a coveted county award for their efforts in creating a successful farm diversification.

Women in farming feature - Verity Sharp at her new farm near Halstead. Picture: GREGG BROWNWomen in farming feature - Verity Sharp at her new farm near Halstead. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Michael and Verity Sharp of Broomhills Farm at Pebmarsh, near Halstead, started their beef cattle farming business from scratch in 2010.

Verity gave up a well-paid job in London to pursue her dream of running her own farm in north Essex. Michael worked as a farrier specialising in stud work, After he and Verity tied the knot, they needed somewhere to live and to store Michael’s farrier equipment. They secured a plot of land and got permission to build their home.

Now their achievement has been recognised by the Essex Agricultural Society (EAS), which holds an annual Presidents’ Garden Party at which the Presidents’ Award is presented to dynamic young rural entrepreneurs in the county. The society’s aim is to recognise the achievement of an Essex resident under the age of 40 in pursuing a rural business or adding value to an existing one over and above normal farming activity.

As well as the Sharps, this year’s three finalists included personal trainer and fitness instructor Tom Kemp, of Farm Fitness Ltd, Little Canfield, Uttlesford, who started his business last year in an old pig building on his father’s farm, and Jon Squier, of Apton Hall, Rochford, Southend, who has converted old farm buildings into a wedding venue with eight bed-and-breakfast rooms.

The three were judged by EAS president Joanna Philpot, vice president Nicholas Charrington and chairman Edward Worthy.

The Sharps had just seven acres of bare fields, a stable and a tin shed and decided to rear beef cattle, in order to do something with the grass that was there. Starting with just 10 store cattle they built up the herd to 65 head of cattle, selling the meat to butchers and through farm gate sales. In the last 12 months they have expanded the breeding cattle by 25 and have two bulls. Last winter they put up a large cattle building and bought a cattle trailer to transport cattle to a hired grass field for the summer months.

“They both work extremely hard expanding the cattle business and improving the infrastructure of the farm and Michael continues his farrier business during the summer months,” said judges.

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