Woman in Agriculture profile featuring Rachel Morrell

Place you call home: Home for me is our family farm in Coleraine, Co. Londonderry.

Occupation: I have just graduated from a course in Real Estate. Alongside university I have been working at O’Connor Kennedy Turtle (OKT), a commercial property firm where I’m now working full time. I have a particular interest in agricultural valuations, and I am hoping to become more involved with the agricultural agency team in the future.

Farming commodity: We run suckler cows and breeding sheep on our family farm.

How did you become involved in farming?

As anyone who has grown up on a farm will know, not getting involved was never an option! I have always enjoyed mucking in on the farm and my first paid job was milking cows.

I didn’t anticipate being involved in agriculture when I applied for Real Estate, but when I started in OKT I was keen to get involved with the agricultural side of the business.

Earliest farming memory: Rearing pet lambs was always my job growing up and still is. I remember on one occasion we had made up a bottle at the sink at the bottom of the yard and by the time we had walked up the yard to the pet pen I had downed the whole bottle! I have gotten better at the job though and lambs almost always gets a full bottle now!

What personal characteristics did you develop from agriculture?

Investing time and money into stock has developed my self-motivation, as regardless of how I am feeling when the alarm clock goes off, I must get up and get on! Working with stock (and family!) has also taught me patience and adaptability.

Life lesson you learnt from farming: Don’t be caught relaxing because you will be given a job. Joking aside, I would say my agricultural background has given me opportunities and a strong work ethic which has placed me in my job today.

Hard work and responsibility come at a young age when farming; before school I was up feeding my own stock, mucking out in between homework when I came home from school and not forgetting the chickens had to be shut in before bed!

What do you enjoy most about the farming lifestyle?

The highlight of my job is pulling on my wellies and getting out on farm to meet farmers and hear about their businesses. On days where I’ve been in the office all day writing up reports, I love coming home and heading out to the yard. I have always enjoyed working with stock and lambing season is my favourite time of year. From the ewes are scanned until the last lambs go out to the fields it’s such a thrill rearing a lamb from start to finish.

Describe a farmer in three words: Innovative, underestimated, resilient.

What would you like the public to know about NI farming?

In my job I have had the opportunity to see lots of farms which have diversified, whether it’s through adding another commodity to the yard, AD plants, farm shops, etc. Farmers are resourceful and resilient and when costs increase or profits are cut, farmers always find new ways to thrive. The farm that’s been passed down through generations looks nothing like it did 100 years ago because farmers are business people, they are innovators and they are not afraid to take a risk on an original idea to ensure their business thrives.

If you could give farmers/farming families/ farming community one piece of advice what would it be?

I may be a bit fresh in my career to be giving out advice, so instead I’ll share some from someone wiser than myself – ‘Buy land, they’re not making any more of it!’

What would you say to others who are considering a career in the agri industry?

You don’t have to be a full-time farmer to be involved in agriculture, there are so many cross over jobs between agriculture and business. I love to see an agricultural instruction coming in as it combines my hobby, farming, and my profession – surveying. The farming community is very supportive and if you’re willing to learn I’ve found there’s always someone there keen to share their experience and knowledge.For me, Brian Turtle, founding partner in OKT, has been a great mentor; allowing me to work alongside him in the agricultural sector of the business.

What are your hopes for the future of Northern Ireland’s agriculture industry?

I hope to see consumers supporting local producers, people caring where their food comes from and being willing to pay a fair price for the top-quality produce Northern Ireland is renowned for.