If you travel to Australia’s southern most island Tasmania you need to visit the Littlewood Berry Farm and met Sophie Nichols who is doing all she can to keep agriculture alive in the state she has always known as home.
Sophie is one of those people who is always after a challenge while being quite the entrepreneur. One of her main goals is finding and trying new niche markets to make the farming operations she manages sustainable. While doing this she is committed to helping educate local schools and young people on where food comes from along with how food grows. Enabling a lot of city people who don't have any connection with farming anymore one they can feel part of.
Like most typical AgWoman she is always on the go, managing two family properties. The first of these is located in Richmond in the coal valley wine district. The property is set up with irrigation and is mainly used for finishing lambs and growing crops. This is were Sophie has started a small lamb business where she sells whole carcass lambs to high end restaurants in Hobart the states capital. At present she is supplying over 200 lambs a year which is an awesome achievement. The Richmond property is also the home of the Littlewood Berry Farm which is a small pick your own strawberry farm where locals and tourists can pick there own fruit and see how a working farm runs, and see how food grows.
Then if you head up the coast you will find Sophie’s other property a dry land farm which purpose is for merino wool production.
It is here she also share farms a small area with a neighbouring cousin and her partner. They have also recently acquired 300 ewes and lambs of their own on a nearby property owned by a main land wine company who is in the process of converting half the farm into a vineyard which leaves around 90 hectares of grazing country.
Sophie always loved farming growing up, however there was never a place as a young women in the industry back then,so she tried her hand at many other tasks and whenever she could help she would be back on the farm.
Following school Sophie studied 2 years at Tasmania university then was looking for something more so she moved to New Zealand and studied a Diploma of Agriculture at Lincoln University.
Here she met some amazing people and truly saw what it was like for young people to be involved in agriculture. She also experienced what it was like to be in a country where the government and country supports young people in agriculture. With a taste of what farming should be like again she headed home to put her newfound skills to uses. She has been home for 10 years now and still uses what she learnt at Lincoln everyday. Something she says she will be forever grateful to New Zealand for.
“I love it cause I love a challenge and also I love the people. In our valley the average age of the farmer is 67 and there are not a huge amount of women, I just believe someone needs to help take on and learn from these farmers who have been doing it for generations.There is so much to learn from them and in a lot of cases their children don't want to come back to the farm. so.... someone has to do it.”
“I love my job no mater how testing it can be sometimes. “Sophie believes she was born to be different and she doesn’t want to be someone who goes to work everyday hating her job or just getting by. She wants to make a difference in not only her own but other peoples lives and make sure her time here is well spent and not just plodding along.
Sophie you truely are one passionate agwoman who is committed to the industry you live and breath. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours and believe the next generation of Tasmania farmers are in great hands with you leading the way.