Tim Hicks, Dairy Farmer, Troytown Farm, St. Agnes
I come from a very long line of Hicks on Scilly. I grew up on a flower farm in the centre of St. Agnes. My brother and nephew still farm it.
When I was at primary school on St. Agnes, there were just 8 children in total. I then had to leave the islands at 11 to go to boarding School in Truro. It was a bit of a shock coming from a tiny island where everyone knows you, to joining a large school of 650 pupils! It took me three years to start enjoying school again.
At 18, I signed up to the Royal Navy for 10 years – a natural progression perhaps for someone who had always lived by the sea. During that time I holidayed regularly on Scilly, but never thought to return permanently until my wife and I heard that the tenancy on Troytown Farm had become available! Within 12 months we were back on St. Agnes with our young children. We took over almost 35 years ago, in October 1982, growing narcissi and early potatoes. On the farm, the cycle of improvement is never ending. We started by buying a cow and calf – for milk for ourselves and our visitors – and gradually added a couple more as other farmers gave up their domestic cows across the island.
Our dairy business took off when my son Sam and his family came to join us on the farm 11 years ago. We needed to expand and diversify so we grew our herd – now up to eleven, plus Ding Dong the bull – and started marketing Troytown milk and ice-cream. We keep the business local to Scilly as it’s a treat for visitors when they come. In the summer, I’m up milking by 6.00am but I love the reward of making food from my land.
St. Agnes is dramatic, peaceful and beautiful rolled into one. Yes it’s very remote and it can be frustrating at times when you get cut off. But that’s also the pleasure of living here – the essence of island life, and I wouldn’t change it for anything!