2021 winners follow up: Danny & Sue MacMillan, Diversification of the Year

With immense passion and enthusiasm, Danny and Susie MacMillan have created a unique, bespoke camping experience which caters for the discerning needs of their clientele. We take a closer look at the winners of last year’s Diversification of the Year.

An innate understanding of their clientele, formidable drive and resilience are some of the key factors behind the success of The Macs Farm. With 12,000 organic laying hens supplying a mixture of wholesale and retail customers, Danny and Susie MacMillan also operate a thriving camping and events business on-farm. Having gone from 20 tent pitches to almost 120 in the space of six years, the East Sussex diversification has grown in scale and added many other facets during that time. Danny, who is also a builder, has converted some of the old chicken sheds into modern and attractive event spaces and has been the driving force behind the physical transformation of the farm.


And with Susie spearheading the marketing and her keen focus on their customers, backed up by their eldest son Dean and his partner Kelly, the farm has earned an impressive reputation in the area. Their journey hasn’t been without its challenges and the last two years have understandably been a struggle. Susie says: “Our journey has been like riding the roughest of seas at times and that is how we look at it. Sometimes things are very tough and push us to our limits and other times it is calmer and we have time to think and breathe. We could never have expected the farm to change as much as it has and as quick as it has, but we have been so driven to make the changes and re-invest as much as we can to take it into the next generation.”

Hard work

“At times we have questioned what we have done, but we are finally starting to see the benefits of all our hard work and the future is finally looking a lot better.” Danny and Susie have transformed the farm into a hugely attractive destination which harnesses the location’s agriculture roots to maximum effect. Danny credits working within the building trade as pivotal in enabling him to think objectively across the farming business. He says: “Coming from a different trade, I was able to look at the farm and assess the margins and where we could add value. My motto has always been never to have too many eggs in one basket.” With a mixture of glamping, camping, events, education and kids’ clubs all sitting alongside the organic egg business, the family welcomes more than 40,000 people to the farm every year. But, despite multiple diversifications, agriculture remains a key selling point, with many of the chickens proving to be a real hit with campers and part of the wider experience the site provides. Following their decision to stop supplying 21,000 eggs a day into supermarkets, the couple went it alone to get a better price for their produce.

Open communication

Susie says: “It was scary, but something we are very proud of. We now sell all our organic eggs in the South East and we are open every day to sell eggs directly to the general public so they can come in, meet the chickens and learn about what we do.” It is this open communication with the wider public which the couple believes has contributed to their success and helped secure new and existing customers. “We welcome everyone to see what they are doing and as a result it has broken down the image of traditional farming and massively improved our engagement, especially with the younger generations,” adds Susie. With a discerning eye on the commercial opportunities their customers provide, the family runs a series of events through the year, including special nights focused on rum and reggae, sausage and cider and barn dances as well as the Wild Meadows Week-end, which includes live music, local food and much more. “Families come and have a fun happy time. The bar is open every weekend for the campers and we have buskers and street diners as well,” says Susie. “The inside of the bar will eventually have a stage so we can start to use it over winter months, which will really help the bank account over the quieter winter months.” Looking ahead, plans are already in place to invest in infrastructure for their events, such as by adding festival flags, outside bars, additional lighting and signing to make the experience as good as possible. “We could write a very interesting book about how we have done it and we are very proud of what we have achieved,” says Susie. “Having adapted and emerged from the pandemic stronger than when it began, winning the diversification award last year was the icing on the cake.”