Rachel Billington is a dairy farmers daughter and has recently become a dairy farmers wife. She has always been interested in food and farming and loved baking and cooking from a young age and helping her dad on the farm.
When she left school, she says she knew that she wanted to work in either food or agriculture, but didn’t know exactly what role.
“I went on to study for a degree in Agri-food Marketing with business at Harper Adams University in Shropshire. Since graduating in 2011, I have worked in food product development for Arla Foods, Bakkavor and Goodlife Foods,” she says.
In 2014 Rachel applied for, and was awarded, £2,000 through the John Platt Travel Scholarship to support hery request to upskill and investigate opportunities for on-farm diversification. Awarded by the Cheshire Agricultural Society and Reaseheath College, she visited Morwick Ice Cream in Northumberland, Newlyns Farm in Hampshire and local Cheshire producer Burt’s Cheese.
She also attended the Farm Business Innovation Show and business start-up seminars. Learning more about the practical areas you need think to about when diversifying, Rachel spent time with them and understood how they connect their food product and farming story with the public and how they work to promote it.
“I then attended an intensive four-week Leith’s Cookery Course in London, where i learnt the maximum number of cookery skills for a professional environment in the shortest period of time.
“Many of the students who gain the Leiths Essential Cooking Certificate go on to plan their own food businesses, run B&Bs, delis and cake shops or work in other food-related industries.
In 2017, with her mum, Janet, Rachel launched an online business called Bowl & Whisk, which they run from their farmhouse kitchens.
Bowl & Whisk is an online ‘gifts by post’ business, where artisan food gifts in the form of homemade chocolate brownies and traybakes are baked and sent across the UK all beautifully gift wrapped with a personalised message from the sender.
“Our home-baked treat boxes are an easy gift solution for any occasion, whether that be to congratulate new parents, wish someone a happy birthday, or to simply let someone know that you are thinking of them.”
They also make wedding cakes, provide desert tables and afternoon teas for weddings and events, and hope to start a secret supper club very soon.
Rachel’s husband runs his family dairy farm, milking 200 Ayrshire Cows, with 200 followers over 450 acres.
Rachel says she loves having the freedom and flexibility to work the hours she wants, rather than the structure of a 9-5 role.
“It allows me to carry out my Bowl & Whisk work, yet still be on hand to help my husband on the farm when necessary.”
Rachel worries that there is a lack of opportunities for new entrants into farming.
“There is not enough young people wanting to go into agriculture. We are finding it hard to find staff, as there just doesn’t seem to be many people that want the work,” she says.
“There is also a definite need to connect the public closer to food producers, to make the general public more aware about where their food comes from and the processes it goes through before being put in their shopping baskets.
There is a lot of misinformation on social media about farming, and it can be very frustrating to read.”
Rachel is also keen that the general public will start to appreciate good food and start to pay a little more for it.
“Cheap food, really sends the wrong message out to the public, there is so much work and cost in bringing food to the table, it should be reflected in the cost. We are devaluing food as a result.”
Rachel is a truly inspirational woman and entrepreneur and she also makes the most delicious brownies my family and I have ever tasted.