Mary’s Pick-Your-Own Success

Our Mary’s Picking Up A Storm!

We’re fortunate to have over 600 talented students enrolled here at Bry More.

Each one of these exceptional kids has a passion for Agriculture which they exhibit every day in their theoretical and practical classes. Every now and again we’re proud to shine a light on a student who has gone beyond what is expected of them and achieved something amazing, inside or out of school time. This month we’re going to be focusing on Mary Ashelbeck, who has not only started her own ‘Pick-Your-Own’ Fruit enterprise but has also used the IT skills that she has learnt in school to market her business online.

Mary is in her 3rd year at Bry More, studying Plant Diversity, Business Enterprise and Fruit Management.

She won’t mind us mentioning here that she has struggled in her subjects at Brymore because of severe dyslexia that she has had to deal with throughout her educational life. Having grafted hard to pass her GCSEs, Mary surprised her parents by asking to continue her education. Her parents, both of whom work in the world of IT, had assumed that she would want to get out of education as soon as she could, however Mary evidently felt otherwise.

“I’d been told all my life that I ‘struggled’ with school work and that ‘some people just aren’t cut out for academia’. The sheer feeling of accomplishment that I felt after I passed all my GCSEs is hard to describe here. I felt like I’d proved everyone wrong: my teachers, my parents, even myself. So when it came time to choose what I wanted to do next, going into further education felt like the only option that was really open to me.”

After completing her first module at the school, Understanding Berries, Mary fell in love with the idea of creating her own ‘Pick-Your-Own’ experience. She had dim childhood memories of picking Strawberries with her parents, but remembered how ramshackle the farms always felt:

“My parents are both really fastidious people, everything has its place. I love the outdoors and wildlife, but I also appreciate things being in order. I started to dream of creating my own ‘Pick-Your-Own’ farm where the consumer experience was a lot cleaner and more aesthetic. By branding all the cartons and providing the customers with the opportunity to purchase accompaniments that compliment the fruit, I’ve found a way of enhancing the ‘Pick-Your-Own’ experience and give my customers an excuse to share their creations online.”

Mary’s ‘Pick-Your-Own’ Farm opened at the beginning of the school term in September, after she successfully secured financing from her parents. After reading through her 30-page proposal, which included several investment options in addition to aggressive plans for franchising, they had ‘no choice’ but to say yes. Since then, Mary has been carefully balancing her business responsibilities with her school life – not an easy task for a 14 year old!

“Sometimes it can be difficult to see where the school work ends and the business work begins. So much of what I learn in school is applicable to my business, that I’m often adapting and tweaking my plan in response to what I’ve learnt. I’m just happy that I’ve created something that others can enjoy!”