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Celebrating women

Two inspiring women from Yeo Valley Organic share advice for International Women’s Day
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Mary Mead, Yeo Valley Organic

This article first appeared in our International Women’s Day issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published on 08 March 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Mary Mead OBE

Co-founder of Yeo Valley Organic (main image)

Has there been a particular female role model who has inspired you?

The most influential female who has inspired me most has been my mother-in-law, who was an outstanding farmer in her own right.

Are there any personal achievements that you are proud of?

I have been fortunate to receive the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Award, plus an honorary MA and OBE for services to sustainable dairy farming.

I am particularly proud to have been made a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, for the breeding of pedigree British Friesian cows on our organic farm.

What advice do you have for other women in your field?

My advice to other women would be to have the courage to follow your passion – but don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Zelah Cornealius-Richards

Yeo Valley Organic gardener

What advice do you have for other women in your field?

We are often called the ‘weaker sex’ – don’t believe it! Physiologically we may be slightly different from men, but we still have our own physical strength, and we are no different when it comes to our intelligence and mental capacity. 

Are female gardeners supported?

Attitudes towards women in traditionally male roles are definitely changing. There are loads of amazing women in all areas of horticulture, but it would be good to see more – especially in head gardener roles and higher up the horticultural ladder in general.

Yeo Valley Organic’s head gardener is a woman and we have a women-heavy gardening team now that we have just hired a new female gardener. We currently outnumber the men three to one!

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

This is a day to admire the brilliant women in my life and to celebrate the achievements of women around the world.

Zelah Cornealius-Richards, Yeo Valley Organic gardener
Zelah Cornealius-Richards, Yeo Valley Organic gardener

Why do you think we should celebrate International Women’s Day?

Women have had to struggle to assert their right to equality with men in society and that struggle is still going on, to greater and lesser degrees, around the world.

To be able to vote, get an education, choose what field I work in and decide if I want to marry and have children is something I take for granted, but I am very aware that I am lucky.

So International Women’s Day is a reminder to keep pushing for those rights for all women and to champion women and their ideas. 

Has there been a particular female role model who has inspired you?

Pretty much all the women in my life, but especially my mother. She raised me single-handedly with the most extraordinary kindness, love and compassion and instilled in me the idea that I should have my own career and be able to support my own independence.

This is an idea that I hope I have passed on to my own daughter.

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