Claire Howlett - Digital future for dairy farm
Claire Howlett runs Wicton Farm, an organic dairy farm in the heart of the Herefordshire countryside, with her brother following the retirement of their parents three years ago.
Claire returned to Herefordshire to run the family farm after previously working in Tanzania, Senegal and Cambodia for an international volunteering organisation.
“I didn’t know I would become a farmer at the age of 30 but I’ve realised how much satisfaction can be gained from managing your own business in what is a challenging but fantastic industry.”
‘Go Learn’ funding from Faster Women
Claire successfully applied to receive ‘Go Learn’ funding from Fastershire’s Faster Women programme. Go Learn funding was available to business women in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire to help fund any internet, IT or digital related training or conference.
“I was introduced to the Faster Women programme by the Herefordshire branch of Women in Dairy and the Go Learn funding seemed ideal."
"I have become passionate about organic dairy farming and about the transfer of knowledge to younger generations and we realised that a website would be the perfect starting point to help grow and develop our business."
"Dairy farming is going through challenging times and we want to increase awareness amongst the general public about where their food comes from and the important role farmers play. But also to help educate the next generation through school visits and encourage young people seeking to enter agriculture."
"The Go Learn funding was superb as it allowed me to attend an online WordPress for Business course that was specifically designed to create a business focused website.”
Going back to school
“Farming can be quite an isolating industry at times and when I came back to the farm I was determined to continue learning and growing as a person."
"The online course meant I was able to fulfil my responsibilities on the farm and study in the evenings. Over the 60 day period I not only learnt how to use WordPress but I gained an in depth understanding of best practice when it comes to creating website content."
"Learning how and then actually creating a website is something that was quite out of my comfort zone and a real challenge but it was also very stimulating to learn new skills and something so different to what I do on a day to day basis."
"The course also made me reflect on my business. It made me analyse what we are doing in greater detail, to look at our business model and actually ask 'why we are doing it?'."
"Following the completion of my course we now have new website that will help build our brand and continue to ensure that our farm business is dynamic and creative.”
Faster Broadband through Fastershire
As a result of the Fastershire rollout, Wicton Farm has been fibre enable through a Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) solution and is now able to access to speeds of up to 330Mbps.
“Fibre broadband has made a real difference to the business and we only upgraded recently."
"Farming has changed considerably, I would estimate that only 40% of my day is spent on the farm while 60% is spent doing admin and paperwork. So much of what we have to do is dependent on the internet and a quick connection speeds make it so much easier."
"I’m now able to use wireless internet and that’s given me a lot more flexibility and as we develop online through the new website and social media it means we can be far more responsive.”