Farming latecomer Nicola Chapman is very proud of her 75-strong Belted Galloway cattle herd based in the Waveney Valley.

Not only does it provide her with a sustainable income, it is also helping to regenerate areas of north Suffolk to create rich wildernesses.

The slow-maturing native breed cattle are put out to pasture in Suffolk Wildlife Trust sites at Carlton and at Oulton Marshes. There the animals help to create a mosaic of habitats for various species.

The cattle have been grazing the land since the conservation charity gained National Lottery funding to convert what was once arable farmland into what she describes as "this amazing wetland".

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"We have been grazing it since they started there six or seven years ago," she explains.

"When we started with them we were doing what's known as conservation grazing or grazing for nature outcomes for them."

Now Nicola runs a Pasture for Life certified operation - and has adopted a regenerative farming ethos so that she can raise her cattle to the best possible standard.

She is a good friend of Pasture for Life farmer Neil Heseltine - a beef and sheep farmer in the Yorkshire Dales who recently appeared alongside Suffolk arable farming family the Barkers in a BBC iplayer show, Saving Our Wild Isles.

The follow-up to the hit TV nature series Wild Isles is presented by David Attenborough and highlights some of the people who are trying to reverse dramatic nature declines in the UK. 

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Nicola is also a supporter of Great British Beef Week - founded by Ladies in Beef - which runs from April 23 to 30.

By selling her beef directly to the public, Nicola is able to make up for the shortfall involved in rearing a non-commercial breed.

"There weren't many here in this area in East Anglia when we moved here which gave us a unique sales point," she explains.

"We weren't really interested in having cows in sheds - we really wanted them out."

The belties are not fussy eaters, are also nice and hardy, not too big and don't have horns, she adds.

But she says: "We are only just really getting there and it's taken us seven or eight years to make it a proper business."

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The ex-surveyor, now aged 57, came to farming later in life. She turned her back on working behind a desk to set up a small farm with husband David more than a decade ago.

They started in 2011 with a smallholding then secured a small 100-acre site - Carr Farm at Burgh St Peter near Beccles.

Farming was her dream job but not something she could initially afford to do as she did not come from a farming background.

"I'm an old new-entrant farmer really," she says.

"For most people the farm passes through generations. We bought this one 12 years ago and that was when we started. Before that, we had a smallholding near Diss, outside Dickleburgh.

"I always wanted cattle when I was at shcool - it was the cattle I really loved and you can't really do that on a smallholding."

Now she's 100% on the farm - devoting herself fully to a job she loves.

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"I just always wanted to. When I was a child at school we used to do rural science in the late 70s and I used to love that but I wasn't encouraged to do it."

The option then never seemed possible and she put her desire to farm on the backburner.

Originally from Kent, she met her future husband, David, also a surveyor at that point but now working for the NHS. After university he landed a job in Norwich and she moved to the area.

David joins her part-time on the farm. As well as their beef suckler herd which supplies  local villages with grass-fed beef, Nicola also breeds geese for Christmas and has converted an old dairy into holiday cottages.

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They both champion 100% grass-fed cattle and the farm's practices centre around the importance of animal welfare, biodiversity, and sustainability to produce the best meat.

Nicola has no regrets - and only wishes she had been able to switch careers sooner.

"I just wish I was 20 years younger really. I love being outside. I love seeing the changes the cattle make on the site."

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