Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting HT NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Herefordshire sheep farmer is student of the month at Harper Adams
4:51pm Friday 11th April 2014 in Farming
A SHEEP farmer from Woolhope has been named as her university's student of the month in recognition of her contribution to the family business - Pudge's Lamb.
Ali Pudge uses valuable skills picked up during her degree course at Harper Adams University to help on the 200 acre mixed arable and sheep system, which has recently diversified to sell meat directly from the farm gate and through farmers' markets.
The 22-year-old studies BSc (Hons) Business Management and Marketing at the university in Shropshire and enjoys helping her parents with the business.
Ali said: "We have 150 lambs which are slow-grown and pasture fed which we then slaughter and butcher locally, and then prepare to sell at local farmers' markets.
"Previously, we sold our lambs through markets but we decided to try and add more value to them by seeing the whole process through from farm to fork.
"This means that customers can meet us - the farmers, know where their meat has come from and find out about the farm and how the animals are reared."
The family takes a range of products to the farmers' markets depending on demand and seasonality. Typically, they sell lamb burgers, joints and 5kg freezer boxes, but in summer they also stock koftas and kebabs suitable for BBQs.
Ali, a former Hereford Sixth Form College student and member of Hereford YFC, added: "The business is really gaining momentum and we are booking up to do more and more markets.
"We try to find the markets that will work the best for us, and sometimes that's the smaller ones where we can build a loyal customer base.
"Myself, Mum and Dad and elder sister work together in the business, but I tend to assist with the marketing side including leaflets and brochures, running the Facebook page and I am currently in the process of overseeing the building of a new website for the business.
"What I'm learning through my degree is proving very useful and is adding a professional edge to my existing skills."
During her time at Harper Adams, Ali has enjoyed being a member of the netball team and is also a student ambassador, assisting with open days and other campus events.
She added: "In the future, I'd love to have my own business and my dream is to build a swimming pool on the farm and give lessons as I'm qualified teacher.
"I love being on the farm, but the key for me is to have a diversification and luckily Harper Adams is giving me the skills to hopefully realise that dream.
"Being at Harper Adams has been everything I expected - I knew the place was for me before I'd even stepped foot off the car park."