A platform to entertain and inspire
Social media has given 19-year-old farmer Maria Warne a platform to share her love of agriculture with people across the country and beyond. We spoke to her about her passion for inspiring and encouraging other people – particularly women – to get involved in the industry.
With more than 900,000 followers on TikTok and some 34,000 on Instagram there are a lot of eyes on young Cornish farmer Maria Warne, and she is determined to use her influence for good.
Since joining TikTok Maria has amassed 26.3 million ‘likes’ on her videos. They showcase the lighter side of life on her family’s Cornish farm with clips of her beloved grandfather, known as ‘Granfer’, and his strong Cornish accent being the most popular.
But she also uses the platform – and Instagram too – to share more serious messages about farming, reminding her followers about the importance of farm safety and looking after their mental health.
“TikTok is just short snappy videos putting your message across very quickly. It can be personal or not and is a nice way to cheer yourself up,” says Maria. “I like the interaction with people of different ages and cultures. And there is always the potential for anybody to go viral with their message.”
Maria works on her family’s farm in north Cornwall along with her younger sister Alison, parents James and Penny and paternal grandparents Tom and Sandra. The mixed farm produces arable crops, rears around 200 beef stores a year and 600 ewes and lambs. Maria is also in the early days of fulfilling a long-held ambition of forming her own pedigree herd of Hereford cattle. Alongside all this she is about to start her third and final year of training to be a veterinary nurse specialising in large animals.
"I don't let (pain) hold me back"
A car accident three years ago left Maria with both physical difficulties through arthritis in her spine and, for some time afterwards, depression and a loss of confidence.
“I’m in pain a lot of the time but I don’t let it hold me back,” she says. “I believe we are never given more than we can handle so I use that to judge every opportunity.” Her family are very supportive and keep a close eye on her, reminding her not to overdo things, she adds.
The car accident made her more aware of safety generally and she has been working as an online farm safety ambassador. Her posts give tips and reminders of how to stay safe around machinery and livestock and how to maintain positive mental health, and Maria's work has recently been recognised with her winning the NFYFC 2021 Farm Safety Award.
Her content receives numerous ‘likes’ and positive responses, but there are the occasional negative and sometimes very personal comments.
“In the past they have really got me down, particularly in the time after my accident, but my Mum helped lift me up through that.
“I still get those comments, but have grown a thicker skin now.”
Some comments are about the fact she is female, working in agriculture and questioning her abilities, but Maria enjoys proving them wrong.
“Some men think women can’t plough, so I posted a video of me ploughing and got so many views and likes. Proving people wrong is one of my favourite hobbies!” In fact, ploughing is one of the farm tasks Maria likes best and she has in the past competed successfully in ploughing matches including as part of an all-female team.
“I love all tractor work, but none of us is allowed on the combine – that’s Granfer’s job!”
Offline she has also received a mixed response to being in farming, having worked on local farms over the past few years. “In one job I was their first female employee. They were a bit reluctant at first, but when I left, they said I was welcome to go back any time I wanted.”
She loves inspiring other young women and was delighted when a neighbour told her their daughter looked up to her.
“They had seen me out ploughing and now feel inspired to do similar.” She has also been recognised out and about locally including at their local livestock market where people have asked for her autograph or to have photos taken with her.
"Agriculture can give young women so much"
“My ambition is to encourage other young people. I feel the industry is fading a bit – there are fewer farms than there used to be and a lot of negativity about farming. I want to encourage younger people to get involved – it’s about being part of a group and working together and inspiring others.
“I suppose because I have come from a very supportive family, I want to be supportive of others.”
Since being vocal about farming on social media she has been invited to join various online groups including those specifically for women involved in agriculture. “It is really nice to be part of a group of women encouraging each other.
“Agriculture can give young women so much. It has given me a lot of confidence and taught me many life lessons. It teaches you about respect for the world and nature and makes you appreciate the little things in life.
“It’s an industry that teaches you more than any other. My advice to other young women is to just do it! You will be good as long as you put your mind to it. If you can imagine it, you can do it. No matter what, don’t let anyone stop you.”
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