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News > Life After Hymers > Anna's Happy Trotters

Anna's Happy Trotters

Anna Longthorp (OH 1991-2001) is a free-range pig farmer turned meat wholesaler and retailer creating a sustainable supply chain from Field to Fork

Anna Longthorp is the owner of Anna's Happy Trotters.  Anna's family have been farming for 4 generations. Originally owning a purely arable farm growing crops, pigs were added to the mix some thirty years ago to make better use of the grain and straw that they produce.

We’re a free range pig farming business – part of only 1% of pigs that are produced this way in the UK which is our unique selling point. We are immensely proud of our welfare standards and this is the single most important part of what we do, making sure our pigs are well cared for. We are both Red Tractor and RSPCA assured (by choice, we don’t actually need these credentials for the market we sell into). We’re passionate about educating people about where their food comes from and encourage consumers to back high welfare standards.  As a nation of animal lovers it simply doesn’t make sense not to think about where our food comes from.  If we don’t, we could unknowingly be supporting poorer welfare standards from countries that don’t have as robust regulation and high a standards of animal welfare, and also the environmental credentials that we do. Again, it makes no sense to have heavily regulated systems here in terms of the environment to then import product that doesn’t follow those same standards.

Over the last couple of years I’ve been heavily involved with lobbying government and campaigning for the British farming industry with the “Bite into British” campaign as well as the “Save GB Bacon” campaign, back when the pig industry was struggling with backlogged pigs on farm. A time that highlighted what an almighty mess the supply chain was and the sheer imbalance of power in the mainstream supply chain, with retailers holding all the power and the farmer taking all the risk. This has resulted in a supply chain review currently being carried out by DEFRA which we hope will deliver more transparency and fairness in the supply chain.

Fortunately I’m not part of that mainstream supply chain, the very reason I set up my business was to get away from it. But I am passionate about fairness for my colleagues and firmly believe that I shouldn’t have had to diversify.  The supply chain should be fair and it should be profitable in its own right to produce food for the nation.

While at Hymers College, Anna didn't know what she wanted to do as a future career.

It seemed all my friends had it all figured out be it; doctors, accountants, solicitors but I honestly just didn’t know! The careers advisor we had encouraged me to do work experience at an Accountants as I was good at Maths but it was the dullest two weeks of my life! I always knew I didn’t want an office job having grown up on a farm.

I played various sport to a reasonably high level and enjoyed them so decided upon a Sports Science degree at Loughborough after a gap year and travel to Australia. Back in those days going to Uni was the "done" thing, it didn’t seem like there was any other option. In hindsight, I would’ve been much better perhaps going to somewhere like Bishop Burton to study Agriculture. Again back in those days Farming wasn’t encouraged as a career.  There was, and still is a perception that farming doesn’t require great intellect but this couldn’t be further from the truth, particularly given how far it has advanced technologically, much like other industries over the years.

It’s great to see now that farming is included and promoted at Careers Evenings and it’s a pleasure to be invited along to the Careers and Networking Business and Agriculture evening in April (2023).  We have a common saying, in order to survive/thrive in any industry or business you need to be in the top third performance wise, which is why it is essential that we have great minds and great people coming into the industry and the allied industries that support it. As an industry we need to do a better job of promoting ourselves and the exciting opportunities within the Agriculture sector. After all, we’re always going to need to eat!

Having studied Business Studies at A Level as well as Maths I believe this has given me a great foundation for running my businesses. I absolutely loved Business Studies lessons with Mr Exley and also Mr McTeare. My days at Hymers truly were the best days of my life and this is largely down to the excellent teaching.

Anna loved sport at Hymers and took part in playing Hockey, Netball, Tennis, Rounders, Athletics, and Swimming.

And I’m in absolute awe of the amazing facilities at Hymers now – you don’t get the flying hockey balls like we used to have on the grass pitches! I seem to remember Sue Headley was best at those!

And musically I played the piano as well as the Cello… until I got fed up of carting the cello around… and mum got fed up of paying for new bridges that I kept breaking on the school bus! I’m sure cases are better these days!

For Anna, there were many favourite teachers during her time at Hymers.  She enjoyed the motivation provided by sports teacher, Miss Thomas, and had Mr Fitzpatrick as her form tutor in the sixth form.

We had some great ski trips with Mr Walsmley, Mr Guy, Exley, Meady. Like I say there are just too many great teachers to name.

After leaving Hymers College, Anna took a year out in Australia, working on various farms over there and traveling.  She came back to study Sports Science at Loughborough University.

Aside from playing sport there (hockey and rugby) and enjoying that side of it, it became quickly apparent that Uni just wasn’t for me. With only 10-12 hours of lectures per week and having worked for the previous year, I was ready to get into the work place full time. So, after a short three months at uni, I packed up my bags again and went back to Australia for a further three years, to work back on one of the farms I’d struck up a good relationship with over there.

After returning from Australia, she had a brief stint at tennis coaching before returning to the family farm where an opportunity presented itself in farm diversification.

The farm was going through a challenging time on the pig side of things and from that challenge, came the opportunity to diversify and carve my own business out of what the farm was already doing.  Basically add value to what we already had, and rather than sell our pigs into the mainstream supply chain, create a brand to take it more direct to consumer and creating a more sustainable controlled supply chain.

That was where Anna’s Happy Trotters was born some fifteen years ago; selling our produce direct to butchers, farm shops and retail. We also now have a farm shop and café in Anna’s Happy Kitchen which provides a platform to sell the whole “field to fork” story.

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