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September 2013


STEREOTYPES PROVEN WRONG... 05 YOU HAVE TO BE FROM A FARMING BACKGROUND 06 FARMING IS OLD FASHIONED 09 DAIRY IS A FAILING INDUSTRY 11 FARMING IS FOR PEOPLE WHO DIDN’T DO WELL AT SCHOOL 14 WOMEN CAN’T FARM 23 FARMERS NEVER LEAVE THE VILLAGE 24 FARMING IS THE EASY CHOICE 30 FARMING ONLY BELONGS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE 34 FARMING IS LONELY 36 FARMING ISN’T FASHIONABLE 39 FARMERS ARE RICH 41 FARMERS DON’T KNOW HOW TO HAVE FUN BUT ONE STEREOTYPE WE'RE HAPPY TO KEEP IS... 44 FARMERS LIKE A PINT We’re told from a young age that ‘old MacDonald had a farm’. Well, I’m sure he did – but he’s not the only one. Farming carries around with it a weight of stereotypes – most people have an image of farming in their mind and, let’s face it, most people are barking up the wrong tree. #studentfarmer has decided to tackle this problem head-on. We’ve taken the most common stereotypes and proved them wrong. It wasn’t difficult – there are young people across the country doing amazing things. The more we focus on these projects, the less people will think farmers stand at their gate all day, yelling at people to get off their land. #studentfarmer has been around for a year now and we hope we have proved another stereotype wrong: that

farming magazines are boring. We’ve had an incredible year; our very first front cover was shortlisted for PPA Front Cover of the Year and we ended up in second place, beating titles such as Tatler, Elle and Cosmopolitan. A big thank you to everyone who voted. And after months of telling you all to get on Twitter, we’ve finally listened to our own advice; find us at @studentfarmer. And remember – we are always on the look out for young people doing interesting things to put in #studentfarmer. Tweet or email me at – I’d love to hear from you. I hope you enjoy this edition and that you’ve liked having us around for the past year. But now, let’s focus on the future: of farming, #studentfarmer and most of all, your future. Let the stereotype smashing commence.

Thank you to… Steph Baxter for her amazing work on our cover. See more of her stuff here: Rhianna Wurman for designing our beautiful poster. Visit rhicreations.blogspot. to see more of her work. First Time Farmers for filming our photoshoot – look out for it on Channel 4 next year! Ben, Rebecca, Toby, Tom and Benji the Collie for all their help at the photoshoot. And finally, to Stephen Cole, for not blinking an eye when we announced that we ‘needed to borrow one of his flat caps for a piglet’.

Published by: NFU, Agriculture House, Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, CV8 2TZ

Designed by: John Cottle

Emily Cole Editor of #studentfarmer Email: Twitter: @studentfarmer

To advertise contact: Alan Brown 02476 858955

September 2013


o, you want to get into farming. But no one you know owns a farm. You’ve never picked up a piglet in your life (don’t, they make a surprising amount of noise), you can’t tell a Deere from a Massey and your wellies don’t have an ounce of dirt on them. But don’t despair! Farming is a great industry and it needs more people just like you. But how do you get in? There are lots of different ways, but the one thing that everyone is agreed upon is this: work experience is key.

Tips and tricks First up, find out if there are any farms in your local area. Then write to the owner or send them an email. If they don’t reply, follow up with a phone call a few days later. Don’t take it personally if they say no – move onto the next name on your list. Once you’ve got some work experience in the bag, make the most of it. Turn up on time, get stuck in and offer to help with extra tasks. Make a great impression – you never know where it will lead. Ask questions – learn from the farmer’s experience. How they got into their job, what training they did, any tips they have – it’s all invaluable stuff. Be patient. You will probably be asked to do some pretty boring jobs but everyone has to start somewhere. Once your time there has finished, ask if they know any other farms looking for extra help. If you really loved your time on their farm, you could always offer to work for free one day a week, or ask them to keep you in mind for any future vacancies.


Tweets We asked @studentfarmer followers what advice they would give to people hoping to enter the industry. Here’s what they said: @SheepishSophie: networking is key and twitter is free! @NCRuralScience: lots of experience! You can gain so much knowledge from hands-on experience and it shows you what farming is all about @benholt69: work experience is vital! Beg and plead to get on farm whatever career you choose. Grassroots experience is crucial @MikeSTMack: listen to the old boys, always learn, build networks and grasp opportunities @MoyaNFU: work out what your relevant skills are and then jump in the deep end!



A picture is worth

September 2013


a thousand words Presenting the reality of farming to a public which has grown up with a twee image of rural life isn’t easy. The industry isn’t all white picket fences, cows grazing in clover-rich fields and gamboling lambs. So much of the industry is beautiful – not least, the countryside farmers maintain – but farming life is also hard work, technologicallyadvanced and busy. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Alastair Johnstone, a photojournalism student, grew up in a small village in Gloucestershire. He decided to put together a project on the realities of farming, for a public disengaged with where its food comes from. “This photo story combines my interest in countryside issues with my skills in photojournalism and illustrates a story that I feel

needs more attention,” he said. “The recent horse meat revelations and the subsequent PR campaigns by major supermarket chains have highlighted the separation of the British public from the source of their food, with many holding antiquated views of farming and food production. I aim to show the reality of milk production on one modern, forward-thinking dairy farm in Gloucestershire.” The farm in question is Folly Farm, owned by Chris Simmons. The farm has been in his family since 1939 and he is now modernising the business to make it as profitable as possible. This is one young photographer’s take on the real dairy industry. l

September 2013


Milk it The NFU’s Alex Stevens on Somerset’s dairy industry and why you should consider a cow-shaped career


omerset has a lot going for it. It might be the likes of the Ariel Atom sports car, Mulberry fashion design, Augusta Westland helicopters and Numatic (think Henry Hoover) that attract the big investors, but if we drill down to the food and drink sector it is clear that a vibrant dairy industry is the real backbone of Somerset’s economy. Somerset boasts some of the most innovative and driven dairy farmers in the country. Names like the Mead family at Yeo Valley, Alvis Bros of Lye Cross Farm, Barbers, Wyke Farms, Godminster, Y-Farm, Cricketer Farms and many more are afforded near celebrity status – not to mention a few actual celebrities such as Michael Eavis, the founder of Glastonbury, who has one of the highest yielding dairy herds around. Yet, despite all this good news, Somerset’s dairy industry faces the same challenges that loom across the rest of the UK. Milk prices have begun to move in the right direction, but price increases must mean a fair profit for all elements of the supply chain. Many of the businesses named above have shown that you can successfully process and market your own milk but this will not be an option for most. While the basic economic principles of supply and demand will be the main determining factor of milk price, processors and retailers have a part to play in ensuring that milk contracts deliver fair terms to the producer as well as a fair price. In fact, Wyke Farms, Lye Cross Farm and Cricketer Farms have fully signed up to the dairy industry code of best practice for contractual relations for the milk that they procure direct from farmers and those named above who are not purchasing direct from farmers are making every effort to support the sector. As the last year or so has demonstrated, the industry must respond to challenges like climate change and

unpredictable weather patterns, disease control, input costs and more. But two projects in Somerset have highlighted the issue of finding the future of the dairy industry – those talented individuals who will continue to drive the sector forward. Somerset’s Dairy Careers Project is tasked with promoting the dairy industry to 14-18 year olds, particularly to those with no agricultural background at all. To do this, the team have produced a fantastic website (somersetdairycareers. containing detailed job roles for everything from lab technicians and herd managers to nutritionists – highlighting the many job opportunities out there. And, importantly, getting the message out that you don’t need to be a farmer to be a part of the dairy supply chain. The project has created an impressive video called ‘How do you picture yourself?’ – visit their website for a look. The Fresh Start Dairy Academy, hosted by Bridgwater College and building on the success of the original Fresh Start initiative ( has taken the winning formula of delivering general business and entrepreneurship skills to those wishing to enter the farming industry but given it a more sector specific focus. This project, supported by the Prince’s Countryside Fund, will give prospective new entrants to dairy farming business training, mentoring and potentially introduce dairy farmers who wish to retire or step back to those with ambitions to enter the industry. So, if you haven’t given much thought to a career in dairy farming before, it’s time to start. The industry needs bright, hard-working and ambitious young people just like you.

September 2013

Farmers around the world will be able to improve their irrigation efficiency thanks to an autonomous vineyard robot developed by students at Harper Adams University. James Thomas, Kit Franklin and Chris White developed Dionysusa, which uses thermal imaging sensors to detect moisture levels in grape vines. This data will then be used to inform farmers as to whether irrigation is required. James, aged 23, said: “We had to select an appropriate vehicle to work in vineyards, in this case, a child’s quad bike. We then designed our own systems to control steering, throttle and braking.”

Jan Soukenka spotted a hole in the market and designed a hightech tool for farmers to allow them to work more efficiently. The Coventry University product design student created a portable tablet computer called Agronom to help farmers carry out machinery-based field tasks with greater precision and efficiency. “Agronom enables farmers to conveniently monitor and reduce inputs while increasing outputs throughout the working day,” Jan said. “Ultimately this could lead to today’s fuel powered tractors becoming more sustainable in the long-term with farmers achieving higher crop yields in return.”


Oestrus detection in dairy cows – which determines whether a cow is ready to reproduce – is a major issue for farmers. As bulls are now rarely used for mating, farmers need to determine whether a cow is ready to reproduce. Amanda Ward, a former Writtle College student, carried out a survey of farmers across the world and found that lame cows require more inseminations to get pregnant, and that oestrus expression, and therefore detection methods, are slightly different depending on what housing the cows are in. Amanda is currently completing a PhD into whether there is a method of detection that is better for lame cows – research that could make a big difference to animal welfare in the future.

Alexander McCormack’s final research project explored the effect of temperature on the efficacy of a biological crop protection product used as a seed treatment on potatoes. “Increasingly legislation is placing pressure on products previously used in this role of crop protection, leading to potential restrictions in future use. “This project should give farmers more understanding of how biological products could be used to help manage soil borne diseases found in their potato fields.”




September 2013





Penny Street, 19 National diploma in agriculture (level 2), Bridgend College “I am not from a farming family but I thought it was interesting and different. I tried it out and enjoyed it so here I am! “I have a new job calf-rearing and one day I want to own my own dairy farm. At the moment I have two pet lambs that live in my garden – Gibby and Roxy. “Men often assume they are better but when you are farming livestock it is important to be caring and patient with the animals. These are qualities that women have more than men.”

Fiona Short, 21 Foundation degree in agriculture, Reaseheath College “I love animals and considered veterinary science but I decided farming was for me. It is a necessity – no one would be here without agriculture. “Women are good with animals, they have a maternal instinct and are calm by nature. That’s what you need when handling livestock. “People assume that farming is just for men. In my family that was how it was; I am the first girl to go into farming.”

September 2013


Sophie Barnes, 21 Extended diploma in agriculture, Nottingham Trent University “Four years ago I was doing a course in animal management. I was asked to come down to the farm to help with lambing and I was hooked straightaway. “People ask me ‘why do you want to be a farmer?’. I say: ‘Because it’s the greatest industry in the world’. “People assume that it’s so simple to farm. I want to show them how hard working we all are.”

Rebecca Thorpe, 20 Zoobiology, Nottingham Trent University

at h w , do like hat I I w e o k d li I I

“My dad and I ran our farm at home but I wanted to do it for myself and go my own way. I want to have my own herd of cattle. “Why should more women get involved? Because we’re better at it than men! “That said, I once decorated the inside of a tractor cab. With me in it, in slurry.”

Katie Miles, 19 Extended diploma in agriculture (level 3), Sparsholt College “My family has always been in agriculture; I want my own contracting business. Women need to prove themselves. And show the boys up!”

Moya Woolley, 23 NFU graduate trainee scheme “I applied for the scheme because agriculture is really interesting and an area in which I could continue to learn. And I thought it was something I would be good at. “People assume farming is exclusive. That’s completely untrue. “Farming is male dominated, but more women in agriculture add something extra to the approach we take. Going forward, farming has to be sustainable in order for it to grow.”


Laura Stearman, 26 NFU graduate trainee scheme “I was always around the farm when I was younger, but it was in my second year at Moreton Morrell that I really knew I wanted to work in agriculture. By working for the NFU I think I can make more of a difference than I could working on a farm. “Historically, farming was about strength but with modern technology this is not an issue. There is also value in our approach to agriculture. “It is infuriating when people who know nothing about agriculture and the countryside criticise farming methods. The countryside looks the way it does because farmers have managed it over time.”

Kate Watts, 23 Dairy herd management, Reaseheath College “I’m called Barbie down on the farm. Once I was asked to get some medicine for the cows which I thought was called ‘angry mice’ – I’ve never lived it down. “You might be pretty with hair extensions and nice nails but you can still do as good a job as a man. “People take one look at me and assume that I can’t be a farmer. Most people think I’m destined to just be a farmer’s wife. But my ambition is to rear dairy heifers and have my own cattle business.”

Don’t quit yo ur daydream

Elizabeth Coulson, 20 BSc (Hons) agriculture with environmental management, University of Lincoln “We farm beef and sheep at home and I’ve always wanted to go into farming. It is so rewarding, especially at lambing and calving time. “Nowadays things are more equal. It is still male orientated but you no longer need the physical strength you used to. “I can drive a lorry. I passed my test when I was 19 but I can’t get insurance!”

Emily Meikle, 25 Communications officer for NFYFC “I once worked at a lion sanctuary in South Africa. Now I want to stay working within agriculture and encourage more people to do the same. “More women should get into farming because there are so many opportunities to work outside in the sunshine. People think it’s just a man’s job but ladies need to show that they can do anything.”

Katie Seal, 17

Level two agriculture, Ribaston College “I’m from a non-farming background and I think women should be able to do all these things. The first time I applied to college I got rejected – they wanted me to do animal care but I didn’t give up. I went with my heart. “Farming is something completely different. You get to work outdoors and get involved in so many different aspects of the farm. “People say that girls can’t farm and they shouldn’t be doing it. I love getting my hands dirty to prove them wrong.”

For more pictures from the shoot visit our Facebook page at

September 2013


BEHIND THE SCENES The misconception that women can’t farm is a pretty common one. We’re not man-bashing; the point of this piece was to prove to women themselves that ladies make fantastic farmers. Many don’t even consider a career in the agricultural industry – we want that to change. After all, why should lads have all the fun?

THE DAY Photographers John and Toby set up the shot. They choose a prime spot. They then choose another that’s a bit further away from a bee hive.

Receive an email from Sophie warning us that her and Rebecca might be late because of ‘wardrobe issues’.

People start to arrive. Penny brings along her husband, who is referred to as ‘the man’ for the rest of the afternoon.

The First Time Farmers film crew arrives. Trendiness of the shoot immediately doubles.

We start shooting the main photo. The girls get confused because six cameras are pointing in their direction at once and they don’t know where to look.

The girls tuck into cake while we begin the ‘photo booth’ part of the shoot. Sophie immediately grabs the sheep-ears headband.

Moya and Laura get creative with the props. The inspirational expression ‘Be the Bull’ is born.

The shoot in numbers Number of times we checked the weather forecast the week before:



The number of moustache-on-sticks bought off eBay

Number of calls from the HSBC Fraud Squad because of ‘unusual activity’ on the credit card:


Number of balloons editor Emily blew up before she was told that only helium would keep them afloat on string:



The number of times Benji the collie (honourary girl) tried to kiss Kate

Number of times we got in the film crew’s way


Katie Miles reveals she once got a letter from Buckingham Palace because she “put a load of recycled materials in the shape of the Queen and sent it to her.” Apparently the Queen loved it.

Laura tells us she once spent three months in New Zealand getting pigs pregnant.

We realise that Liz’s dad has actually been sat in the car the entire time.

September 2013


tree, tree, lake, tree.... Words: Matt Sharp


urely there is a runway here somewhere? My concern was increasing as there was no sign of any cows or pubs. This could be disastrous. Tree, tree, lake, tree, tree, lake, lake, tree. Is this it? Sure enough, we landed on hard concrete: the only concrete I could see for miles. “Welcome to Halifax Airport at 2pm local time.” Not Halifax in Yorkshire - Halifax in Canada. And boy was I glad we landed. Sitting next to the same person for six hours after you’d spilt coffee down them about ten minutes south of Gatwick is no fun. After interrogation and a ruthless going over at customs I hopped in the pick-up with my uncle and we were off. My uncle farms there, you see, and I was over visiting...and getting roped into some work. He farms pigs, poultry, blueberries and sheep. As I flew in it was evident the population density was far different to that of the UK. There are no crammed streets. Very little traffic. And you can’t see anything, let alone wood, for the amount of trees. The farming systems, in some respects, are very different too. I visited one dairy farm which milked three times a day but housed their cows on a woodchip bed harrowing the muck in every day. Milking through a rotary parlour, everything was computerised with capacity to up cow numbers from 300 to 500. A stark comparison was a guy milking 40 Holsteins through a tie stall system where four cows are milked at a time. While it was a very slow and

steady system, probably not suited to my methods, it was obviously profitable judging by the state of the farm, its machinery and the amount of staff they had. They had a further 200 sheep which, by Canadian standards, is a big flock. Forty cows and 200 sheep would not be profitable over here whereas it is over there. A trip to my uncle’s friend’s arable farm was also an eye opener, although it was not drastically different to the UK, except for a large amount of maize (or corn, if you want to be really Canadian). I only wish I had the same amount of Fendt and John Deere tractors he has. Their sheep system is drastically different though. The Rideau Arcott, a Canadian hybrid, is similar to the UK’s Dorset sheep in that it can lamb three times in two years. While it’s a high-input highoutput system, the Rideau is maternal, easy lambing and a very milky breed. Actually, they might as well be a dairy breed. They really need to be fed well and looked after: no use in the hills of Northumberland. But they average a lambing percentage well above 200 with triplets common and quads likely. “Yi divint want nowt more than 185 per cent coz yi just get bother,” someone once told me. But, while quads are typically more hassle, correct nutrition means the ewes can quite often rear all four themselves single-handedly. Could this be the future of the UK sheep system? Probably not.

Getting Northumbrian shepherds to change to a foreign breed of sheep giving more than two lambs each, compared to their Mules or Cheviots, is never going to happen. But it could be a good way for young farmers restricted on land to increase output without the capital cost of more ewes or the need to take more land. Canada is a great country and I’m definitely going back. There are plenty of differences and similarities although the country as a whole seems less competitive and you appear to be able to get on with farming easier than in the UK. I saw plenty of British breeds of livestock and plenty of foreign breeds; Icelandic sheep are certainly interesting.



September 2013


FARMING AGAINST THE ODDS ome people think farming is easy. We know better – it’s not easy and you have to love it. But love it and you’ll never ‘work’ a day in your life. You won’t find anyone who loves farming more than Simon Hales. It’s his passion for the industry that drives him, despite suffering a huge setback when he was 20. In 2009 Simon was at Newcastle University when he had an accident that put him in a coma for five weeks. “I made the unfortunate decision to try and get back into a nightclub I had been thrown out of,” he said. “I went round the back where there was a 20 foot wall and I decided I’d had Red Bull, so I had wings. Unfortunately my wings didn’t appear and I plummeted and fell on my head.” He woke up from his coma, but the hardest part was only just beginning. Simon had to learn to walk, talk and eat all over again and underwent a year of rehabilitation before he could go home. “It’s been very hard and my recovery, hopefully, is still ongoing,” he said. “No one can tell me what the final outcome will be and where my recovery will stop, but I will keep on trying to make my life as normal as possible.” Simon was filmed for a Channel 4 programme called My New Brain, which followed him and his family coming to terms with the challenges of life after a brain injury. It documented his struggle returning home, his frustration at his condition and how he took it out on his mother and the family dog. “It’s a very useful thing for me to look back on as I can see how much I have improved,” he commented. “I have a pet Jack Russell called Bramble, but she was involved in a bad accident too,” he said. “One of our Lurchers stomped on her and broke


all her ribs down one side. She was in intensive care for two days, but you wouldn’t know anything was wrong with her now. That’s the same as my brain injury – people don’t immediately think there is much wrong with me, but they can see there is if they speak to me for any length of time. I occasionally struggle to find words and it can be really hard to think of what I need to say or do.” But he’s not letting his limitations get in his way. Simon is one year into a level 3 extended diploma in agriculture at Brooksby Melton College in Leicestershire, which has given him the

certain parts of farming to increase the profit the farmer makes.” Despite all the setbacks, his recovery has actually brought him some amazing opportunities. As well as appearing in My New Brain, he was also selected to carry the Olympic flame through Stamford. “I kept the torch – it’s a piece of memorabilia that will hopefully remain with me forever and it will remind me of that day, which was just amazing.” He has been helped a great deal by the charity Headway, and now campaigns on their behalf. He recently met Prince Harry at the opening of Headway’s new head office and, despite a phobia of water, he is training for a charity swim in Rutland Water. “I’ve had to get someone to teach me to swim because I’ve never really been able to,” he said. “But because of how helpful Headway have been to me I wanted to do some fundraising to help other people in my position.” According to Simon ‘determination is key’ and despite everything, he believes he is lucky. “Some people would say I’m very lucky, other people would say I’m very unlucky after making that terrible decision,” he said. “I think I was very lucky to survive and therefore I need to get back to where my passion lies, which is within agriculture.”

“I was very lucky to survive and therefore I ne ed to get back to where my passion lies, which is within agriculture” opportunity to try his hand at tractor driving, injecting sheep and working with cattle and pigs. “When I was at university I was probably heading more towards agronomy but since having the opportunity to go to a sheep farm that’s definitely the appropriate sector in farming for me to go into now,” Simon said. “I just wanted to pass my course, but now I’m getting merits. At the beginning my ambition was to get better grades than my brother, but I’ve realised that college is a bit harder than I thought!” he added. “I love being outside and I’ve got a computing A-level so I feel that I could use my knowledge to create something that would use the amazing technology out there to help bring the costs down of

Find out more lS  ponsor Simon at lW  atch My New Brain at: l F ind out more about Brooksby Melton College at:

September 2013



n the same way that there are lots of stereotypes about farming, there are also lots about dyslexia. And, as a lot of people in the farming industry have been diagnosed with the learning difficulty, we thought it was about time we set the record straight.

ALUN REES was determined to overcome his learning difficulties and succeed. The 22-year-old Harper Adams University student chose the FdSc agriculture degree because the combination of practical and theoretical classes suited his learning style. “Having dyslexia means that it’s hard to put things onto paper and quite often the words are jumbled up. This makes completing assignments really tricky,” he said. “But I’m not alone in lectures, others have learning difficulties too and we’re not singled out. Instead we support each other and are very open about the problems we face. “I just think you need sheer determination and you can achieve what you want.”

The facts

Dyslexia affects the skills people use for reading and spelling. A person with dyslexia has problems ‘decoding’ words. Dyslexia affects around 10 per cent of the population. There is no connection between dyslexia and intelligence. You can be highly intelligent and also dyslexic.

Once he graduates Alun hopes to return to his family farm in South Wales to run the 220-head dairy herd and caravan park. “I want to use what I have learned during my degree, so I have plans to start a grassland regeneration business – consulting farmers on how best to use their soils and grasses,” he added. “I’d also like to improve the calving rate of the herd as my final year research project looked at dairy cow fertility.”

“I’m not alone in lectures, others have learning difficulties too”

Dyslexia is especially common concerning the English language because there is often no obvious connection between the way some words look and the way they sound. For instance, ‘cough’. A person who is undiagnosed might show the following symptoms: slow writing speed, problems with reading fluently, poor spelling and avoiding reading and writing wherever possible. There is no ‘cure’ but there are lots of treatments that can make your life a bit easier if you have been diagnosed. And that’s why it is so important to be assessed if you suspect you may be dyslexic.

Going to university with dyslexia Lots of help is available, both at individual universities and nationally. Contact the disability officer at your university – you may be entitled to extra time in exams, specialist equipment and financial support. You should also apply for the Disabled Students Allowance from Student Finance.

joined forces at the end of August 2012. One of the main aims of the new partnership was to promote agriculture to a new generation and work closely with industry Easton and Otley College is proud to be supporting young farmers and the agricultural industry. Together we can make a difference Here we reflect on how they have got on in the last 12 months The new Principal of Easton and Otley, David Lawrence recently received an OBE for his commitment and dedication in promoting agriculture and education to learners in East Anglia last December. Some could argue that he would deserve a knighthood if he, along with his many colleagues at both campuses in Norfolk and Suffolk, were able to recruit the amount of students that are needed in the next ten to fifteen years to work in an industry that is in need of new recruits. Head of landbased studies, Martyn Davey, said, “It’s not news to us that we need to find the next generation of farmers and quickly. We have known for a long time that the industry is struggling to get this message out to young people.”

So what is the message you want to get out? Davey continued, “We need to let people know that working in agriculture is a great career. Currently, there are jobs out there and the types of things that you end up working on are incredibly varied, interesting and diverse.” “It’s a simple message and the challenge ahead is massive – but it is one that we are looking forward to tackling head on.” The new college is very active in speaking with industry leaders and young farmers has been very active in this mission.

Jake Humphrey with David Lawrence at The Royal Norfolk show

So what else is the college doing? The ‘EDGE Apprenticeship scheme’ brings together a number of leading organisations with the aim of Educating, Developing, Growing and Employing (EDGE) the next generation of farmers. The programme is industry-led and is a collaborative venture between agricultural purchasing groups Anglia Farmers and AtlasFram Group, in conjunction with Easton and Otley College, New Anglia LEP, Norfolk County Council and Suffolk County Council. “We have just signed up to be part of a new campaign that aims to attract 300 new apprentices into the industry by 2016,” said Davey. “It’s important that we work closely with our partners in industry to encourage learners to seriously consider a career in farming and this apprenticeship programme. It can only help our long term mission of serving the needs of the agriculture industry across the Eastern region and beyond. This project is incredibly exciting and we can’t wait to get started.” Alongside this scheme (EDGE), both campuses are going to be investing in new farming facilities. More educational trips will be planned such as the recent visit to an agricultural show in Paris. The college will continue to take an active part in county shows. In fact this year at the Suffolk Show, they gained a number of awards. Overall, they received the best trade stand, the Russell Faulds Trophy for representing environmental or education issues and the Suffolk National Farmers’ Union Cup for best use of floral decorations.

Group of students at the Paris Agricultural Show People like Nic Bertelsen (originally from Wymondham in Norfolk) who secured a job after completing a foundation degree six days before he graduated. Nic was in the RAF before a motorbike accident cut his career in the forces short. He then ran his own marine business before deciding to re-train in agriculture – a subject that he always had a passion for when growing up. Davey added, “Nic is one of many examples of some of the mature students that we have supported over the years who have come to us seeking a new way of life. In fact, we have seen a real trend for people to come and re-train with us on our landbased courses in recent years. We have had lawyers who have become garden designers, an ex-army man who turned to horticulture and a former stockbroker trained as a tree surgeon.” “We also need to look at encouraging more females into the industry. Generally – as the numbers recruited for agriculture and land-based courses improve, so have the number of female students participating in these courses. But as a college and an industry, I still believe that there is work to be done on this issue.”

Students also picked up awards in livestock competitions. They scooped similar awards at the Norfolk Show where the college Principal (David Lawrence) met up with the 2013 President of the show, Jake Humphrey. (Mr Lawrence was the show President in 2012). One of the livestock handlers and agricultural students, Libby Eglington was signed up to participate in a fashion shoot with Norfolk magazine whilst she was at the show. That aside, the college is also keen to talk to people who are considering a career change.

Agricultural student Libby Eglington with one of the prizewinning cows from the Holstein herd at the Suffolk show

For more details about agricultural courses at Easton and Otley College call 01603 731200 for the Easton campus or 01473 785543 for the Otley campus – alternatively visit



City state of mind W

e’re at a former loading bay by the Grand Union Canal in Brentford, Greater London. Planes flying into Heathrow soar overhead. This isn’t where you’d imagine a flourishing horticulture operation to be based – but it is. Cultivate London is an urban farm based across three sites in west London. It provides training opportunities and jobs for unemployed young people aged 16-24, while converting derelict urban land into productive food growing space. Young people come to the traineeships from job centres, probation services and word of mouth. They work with Cultivate London for three months, growing vegetables, herbs, salads and flowers and selling the produce at farmers’ markets, before going onto a work placement at one of the initiative’s partner organisations. Then, when funding becomes available, Cultivate London takes on apprentices for two years, in which time they complete the level two diploma in horticulture at a nearby college. General manager Adrienne Attorp said: “By spending time with us they are doing something; it brings regularity into their life, some discipline and a positive group of people to hang out with. They make friends and their

confidence improves. A lot of young people aren’t useful – they don’t do anything and they don’t feel valued – but then they come here and all of a sudden they are using their brain and their hands. They’re our workforce, they are important to us and I think they know that.” But is there a place for urban farming, and can it help tackle the problem of an increasing world population? “Urban growing is part of the solution,” said Adrienne. “But it shouldn’t be focused on exclusively or at the expense of rural farmers, as we will always get the majority of our produce from rural farms.”

However she believes it has an important role to play in reconnecting urban consumers to the food they eat. “We have completely separated ourselves from rural farming,” she said. “Farming is seen as a dirty, laborious job and it’s not given the respect it merits; the amount of knowledge and business savvy you need to succeed as a farmer or horticulturalist is incredible. We’re not all going to go back to the land and be farmers. I want to but most people aren’t going to, so if you can bring it to them in cities that might help reduce some of the problems.”

Sean Connor Senior apprentice, aged 22 “I found the scheme through the job centre, and I’ve been here ever since. I used to do a lot of gardening work as a kid, but I thought it was a hobby, not a paid job. Once I actually got paid for it, I thought it was brilliant – I was being paid for doing my hobby! I’m actually a qualified plumber as well but after going to peoples’ houses, doing the same thing over and over again, I got really bored of it. Here, you sow the seeds, you s ee them grow, and when you’re at markets you can sell the produce you’ve grown – I get a real thrill out of it! My goal is now to get a masters degre e in horticulture.”

September 2013



George Hurwood Ap prentice, aged 20 “I found out about the scheme through the job centre – at the time I was looking for work after college and it was really difficult. This opportunity came up and I decided to go for it, and it turns out I have a huge interest in horticulture. I’m here six days a week now – it’s very free-spirited. You have to meet deadlines but it’s not like someone is breathing over your shoulder. It’s nice not having to work in an office too. The atmosphere is really great, everyone works well as a team. Most of us had done the occasional bit of gardening in the past but it was really odd to find out that most of us have a green thumb. I think people should be more open minded and give new things a go – they might be surprised.”




No man is an island F

arming has always been a huge part of my life, writes Kerry Omand, aged 19. My mum and dad’s farm has been in our family for hundreds of years. Today, it comprises 48 beef suckler cows and three Continental bulls, spread over three rented properties and land, as well as our own farm. My partner, Alexander, also works on his own family farm, which also has a beef suckler herd, with around 100 Aberdeen Angus Cross breeding cows. Farming is something that I am really proud to be associated with. As I think about it, this it mostly because of the people. Farmers are, generally speaking, hardworking and honest people who are always striving to make the most of what they have. They put in long, unsociable hours, and as a result will often have to skip social events. Throughout their lives, farmers and their families are constantly making sacrifices and compromises because the farm always comes first. Many of us know just how isolating and lonely farming can be. Fortunately, I have never yet experienced a great sense of isolation. This is because I was born and raised on Orkney, a group of islands off the Northern coast of Scotland. It would be easy to assume that these, at times very bleak, islands must create a very lonely and isolated existence. Particularly during the winter months, which bring with them short

Kerry with her partner Alexander days and an abundance of gales. Yet it wasn’t until I moved to Dundee, to study mental health and counselling, that I realised how hard it was to travel home. And I soon learned just how small Orkney was. And I missed it. You see, there is something special about Orkney that I had never appreciated, or even noticed, until I moved away. Cheesy and clichÊd as it sounds, Orkney really does have a close-knit community. I grew up on South Ronaldsay, an island with a population of around 1,200 people and

over 50 working farms. Here, farms are situated close together, meaning an extra pair of hands is never far away. When in Orkney I know everyone around me, and there is something very comforting about that. If you ever have a breakdown or a bad calving there are always plenty of people you can turn to. I found it a huge culture shock when I discovered that people

September 2013


“There is a definite sense of camaraderie among the farming community. We help each other, share and swap machinery and even lend a bull” ‘down south’ don’t speak to their neighbours. In Dundee I only ever see my neighbours when redirecting the delivery of their mail, yet my neighbours in Orkney would happily help us with the delivery of a calf. Although there is a large farming community, there is a lack of full time farmers. Most farmers here have a second job, or four, to subsidise their farm. Meaning they often have the chance to see and chat to other people. There is a definite sense of camaraderie among the farming community. We help each other, share and swap machinery, and even lend a bull. Orkney farmers are, unintentionally, very sociable people. We socialise with occasional, impromptu conversations at the roadside when passing in our vehicles, or will happily chat in our byres for a few hours if the weather’s not good for anything else. The social gap is narrowing further too as today more and more farmers have mobiles, and access to the internet. Meaning we can find out when our cows have escaped in record time!

This is how a typical farming conversation in Orkney goes: a quick comment about the weather. Then, depending on the time available, we will usually progress quickly onto a discussion about the grass, the neighbour’s new bull, the prices at the mart and the upcoming shows. If we really have time on our hands, the conversation will delve into a whole new level, discussing any recent farm breakdowns and the bull’s bad feet. By that time, our small part of the world has been put to rights, and we can go on about our day. Until we bump into the next person we know, and the same scenario repeats itself. By no means am I trying to say that we stand around and chat all day,

but you get the idea! Farmers here look out for each other, and most importantly make time for each other. To say that farming is an unpredictable occupation is an understatement. We never know what price we will get for our animals, how long a terrible spring will last, or next year’s manure prices. But the one thing we can depend on is each other. No matter how much farming changes and progresses, you will undoubtedly always need a hand or some spare silage one day. Or at least someone you can moan to about the cattle prices, the rubbish weather and the state of your manure bill!

BARBOUR FACT #1 The Barbour story began in South Shields in 1894 and it’s remained there ever since.

BARBOUR FACT #2 During the first and second world wars, Barbour produced weatherproof outdoor clothing for the military.

BARBOUR FACT #3 The South Shields factory produces around 3,000 classic wax jackets every week. Annually the company produces up to 120,000.

BARBOUR FACT #4 The most unusual items found in Barbour jackets returned to customer services include a glass phial of monkey blood, sheep tails, foxes’ teeth, love letters, £120 in cash and keys to St James Palace.


f you went back 20 years, it would be fair to say that Barbour jackets were mostly found on farmers’ backs, hung up in gamekeepers’ hallways or underneath a Labrador in the back of a Land Rover. Fast forward to 2013 and every celebrity worth their salt has one in their wardrobe. They’re the festival jacket of choice, the brand is now found in top department stores and they’re coveted worldwide. But, despite this recent surge in popularity, Barbour has stayed true to its roots. Each jacket is made by hand on a production line in South Shields, where the company was first created. #studentfarmer was lucky enough to be given a tour of the factory and it only cemented what we knew all along – that Barbour is a national treasure, up there with the likes of Shakespeare, the Royal Family and Percy Pig. We followed a Bedale jacket around the production floor and saw the complete process; from cutting out the different patterns and sewing them together, to attaching zips and labels. Each Bedale jacket takes approximately 50 minutes to make, involves the work of 36 people and is made up of 160 parts. Numerous skilled jobs go into producing one jacket, but the expertise doesn’t stop there: another reason why Barbour is unique is its customer service department. So far this year more than 7,000 jackets have been sent back to South Shields for alterations and repairs. Requests range from the simple (re-stitching and re-waxing) to the more elaborate (the team have received lots of requests recently to make jackets look older, to fit in with the current trend for all things vintage). But no matter how fashionable Barbour becomes, the brand will always remain popular with the farming community because of their emphasis on quality, durable clothing that performs in any environment. The jackets might appear on runways and glossy magazines – but you’ll always find them underneath Labradors in Land Rovers.

BARBOUR FACT #5 Originally the company supplied oilskins to protect the local community of sailors and fishermen. Today Barbour jackets are sold in 40 countries worldwide.

September 2013


Young farmers aren’t as rich as everyone thinks. Here are our top budgeting tips














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September 2013


“The majority of UK brewers use hops from New Zealand, Europe or America – we’re passionate about ke eping everything British”


hat started as a coursework project has blossomed into a brewery run by two brothers. Tom and Ed Coyte set up Whale Ale in March and only started trading in May, but they have already been making waves at beer festivals with their two creations; Pale Whale and Ruby Moby. The enterprise first came about after both brothers independently bought a book on how to start a brewery. After a few beers one evening (naturally) the pair decided to give it a go; Tom left his accountancy job in London and both brothers set about getting experience and refining their recipes. “We had been home brewing for years and years,” Ed, aged 22, said. “And I wrote a lot of our business plan for a module at university!” To gain experience, the pair spent time at breweries and set about completing a brewing qualification. “We went our separate ways and worked in as many breweries as possible,” Ed said. “We’ve tried to take the best working practices from each different brewery.” The experience proved invaluable. “By getting ourselves into breweries we learned so much more than we could have done by reading a book,” Tom, aged 25, added. He admits it was a massive risk for him to give up his accountancy job, but that it was worth it. “There is a huge amount of risk in any business – but it’s about trying to calculate that risk. It’s exciting!” he said. Setting up a brewery requires a big amount of capital, so they secured funding through three organisations; The Prince’s Trust, the Start Up Loans Company and the Department for Work and Pensions. The Prince’s Trust loaned

them money and also provided the pair with a mentor who they see every two weeks. Next up was the Start Up Loans Company, a government scheme funded by the taxpayer to try and encourage more young people to set up businesses. And thirdly, the Department for Work and Pensions, who give the pair a small amount of entrepreneurs benefit every month and also provided a grant for equipment and clothing. “Going to a bank is very difficult, particularly at our age,” said Tom. “But we think it would be easier to get further funding from the bank now when we need it.” The pair also struck lucky with their location. Initially they drove around, searching for potential bases such as old cows sheds. It was on one of these drives when they saw a bailiffs notice in front of a building. The site was intended to be a buffalo mozzarella factory and a huge amount of money had been spent renovating the premise, but the business had run out of cash before it could start trading. “We walked into a site that was absolutely perfect for a brewery; we had raised the finance to kit out a premise, but we didn’t have to, so we saved a huge amount of money,” Tom said. Once everything was set up, it was time to start producing the recipes they had carefully perfected. “One is a trendy beer – it’s very pale and quite zesty,” Ed said. “Both of our ales are ‘session beers’ – they have a low ABV [alcohol content] and they’re easy to drink. The Ruby Moby is more of a traditional bitter and slightly darker. They are recipes we have been

working on for a few years and our equipment helps us get the same beer, every single time.” And both beers are completely British, using hops from Worcestershire and Hereford. “In the past eight to ten years hop growers have started growing the same varieties you can get abroad on UK soil,” Ed said. “We think they’re smashing – they’re not quite as potent as the international varieties, but they work really well in our beers.” “The majority of UK brewers use hops from New Zealand, Europe or America – we’re passionate about keeping everything British,” added Tom. So, what’s the goal? “Global domination!” replied Tom. “We want to keep making quality beers, for as long as we can – produce more, distribute further across the country, increase the bottling side of the business and look towards supermarkets and going abroad. Lots of British beer is exported to places like China, Russia and Brazil. Real ale is definitely going through a renaissance at the moment.” For more on Whale Ale and information on beer festivals they will be attending visit whaleale. You can also follow Ed and Tom on Twitter at @Whalealeco.

September 2013


ubs are a British institution, but in the past few years they’ve been suffering. They’re part of our heritage, especially in the countryside, and if we don’t support them they will disappear. They’re a vital component of barley and hops production in this country, but it’s not just about the ale (lawyers – we are in no way advocating that under 18s get on the beers). It’s about our heritage. There may be lots of stereotypes about farming we’d like to get rid of, but we’re perfectly happy to keep hold of one: farmers love pubs! To celebrate we’ve compiled a list of all the pubs in England and Wales that everyone should visit at some point in their lives. It’s a pub crawl, but on a slightly more epic scale than your average trek round a village. So, what are you waiting for? Go forth and complete the #studentfarmer pub crawl...


SIR WALTER RALEIGH INN, EAST BUDLEIGH BY SOPHIE CORKE WHAT CAN YOU BUY FOR £10? Sausage and mash and a pint of Ruby Mild, or three and a half pints of Ruby Mild depending on your appetite. BEST DRINK ON OFFER: Marshwood Vales ‘Dorset Tit’ medium cider. WHAT’S THE CRACK WITH THE SNACK? Yes, they sell Scampi Fries and they also sell Guinness crisps. You heard me, GUINNESS CRISPS! DÉCOR: Great aunty Minerva’s front room V how much wood can a woodchuck chuck V the Rovers Return circa 1961. CLIENTELE: Friendly (the guys at the bar welcomed us when we walked in), local (they knew the complete history of the pub and the village), Elizabethan explorers (well maybe).



THE OLD LION, HARBOROUGH MAGNA BY NATALIE ILSLEY WHY IS IT YOUR FAVOURITE? I have been going to this pub all my life. No, I didn’t have a taste for alcohol at an early age; The Old Lion is situated at the back of my grandparents’ garden. Even though it’s quite old, don’t be fooled. My friends and I all agreed that The Old Lion feels more like a cocktail bar than a pub. Don’t like cocktail bars? Well, they do have a wood burning fire with some darker areas if you would prefer a quiet pint to yourself. WHAT CAN YOU BUY FOR £10? Two pints and two snacks. Perfect if you’re a duo. THE ‘GAME CHANGER’: The Old Lion is like Narnia, apart from the forest and witches and the fact you don’t enter it via a wardrobe. It looks small and established on the outside, but the inside tells a completely different story. CLIENTELE IN THREE WORDS: Families and friends. WHAT’S THE CRACK WITH THE SNACK? They have your typical pub selection of snacks: crisps, pork scratchings and nuts. All snacks are £1 and are guaranteed to keep those awkward tummy rumbles at bay.

PILCHARD INN, BURGH ISLAND BY REBECCA VEALE WHY DID YOU CHOOSE IT? It’s the only pub on the island! WHAT CAN YOU BUY FOR £10? Crab baguette and half a pint of lager. DESCRIBE THE DÉCOR IN THREE WORDS? Rustic, charming, antiquated. THE ‘GAME CHANGER’: There is a magical feeling on Burgh Island. It’s not only in the most heavenly spot but it has charm by the bucket. There’s been an eclectic mix of drinkers over the years from fishermen to smugglers and wreckers. Today the pub mainly welcomes guests from the exclusive 1920s hotel next door and tourists that amble across the sand for a pint. Don’t worry, when the tide is in you can catch the sea tractor. The view is gorgeous, the food delicious and dogs are very welcome – what more could you want from a pub?

THE ALE WAGON, LEICESTER BY MOYA WOOLLEY WHY IS IT YOUR FAVOURITE? The Ale Wagon is the Hoskins Brothers only pub, a forgotten gem and it serves really good real ale. The last time I was there one of the guests was a most definitely quaffable Yorkshire rhubarb beer. It’s the kind of place you could go by yourself or with friends and family and it would be a top place to hide out at if there was a zombie apocalypse and you happened to be in Leicester for it. It’s a tranquil beery oasis. WHAT CAN YOU BUY FOR £10? Pretty much four pints and a warm happy feeling. THE ‘GAME CHANGER’: The Ale Wagon serves Green and Gold, ale made exclusively from hops grown within the city, and it has train magazines. I admit train magazines are an odd thing to be impressed by, but it says a lot about the clientele and atmosphere of the place, and it’s also a good excuse to have a moan about Beeching. THE DÉCOR IN THREE WORDS: Simple. 1930s. Wooden. WHAT’S THE CRACK WITH THE SNACK? Amazing Norfolk Bloody Mary flavoured crisps. In fact they have a wide variety of fried potato based snackery to suit your hankering.

September 2013


Other recommendations TUNNEL HOUSE INN, CIRENCESTER “Whether the sun is shining and you can enjoy the beautiful Cotswold countryside with a G&T or you’re huddled by the fire with a local pint of bitter in the winter, the Tunnel is a great place to be. And if you really don’t want to go home, you can always camp!” Rebecca Veale THE BLACK SWAN, CHESHIRE “Such a beautiful pub and my perfect local! Amazing service and such friendly staff, plus an outside pizza stove!” Rebecca Kelsall

THE WINDMILL, SHREWSBURY “In the summer you won’t find a pub with a better view and in the winter there’s a fire!” Ed Roberts THE GRAPES, SLINGSBY “Great local atmosphere, welcoming and you get given the controls to the music. Black Sheep + music = beaut.” Tom Nelson THE RED LION, LONGDEN COMMON “Now producing the best micro-brewery beers, Sawn Off and Golden Arrow!” Clare Rowson

NEELD ARMS, WILTSHIRE “Best pub in the world! The landlord is an absolute legend!” Jon Greenman

TIPPING PHILOSOPHER, MILBORNE PORT “They have a good games room!” Tom Barlow

BLACKSMITHS ARMS, NORTH YORKSHIRE “Cracking pint and even better food. I’ve tested both extensively!” Andrew Black

THE BRIDGE INN, BURTON ON TRENT “Has its own beer and skittles upstairs. I recommend the porter!” Emma Bird

THE LION, HEREFORDSHIRE “Best beer garden in Herefordshire if not the country! Try it!” Tom Whiteman

OLDE TRIP TO JERUSALEM, NOTTINGHAM “Can’t get better than England’s oldest pub!” Abi Cole

COOPERS TAVEN, BURTON ON TRENT “Fab range of real ales!” Mike Thomas

THE HOSTLERIE, GOODRICH “Superbly kept beers in a great pub.” Tim Jones

#studentfarmer favourites When we’re not putting together your favourite magazine, we’ve been known to pop into a pub or two…

The Castle Inn, West Lulworth So dog friendly they have a jar of dog biscuits on the bar that you can help yourself to. Remember, they’re for the dogs, not you – paws off.

garden so you can bask in the sunshine – or if it’s too cold (and let’s face it, it usually is) you can relax in their stylish farmhouse.

The Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich Right on the river; a little slice of tranquility in central London.

the new inn, blists hill museum A museum isn’t the obvious place for pubbage, but this one is a cracker. Plus, if you’re lucky, they will serenade your dog.

The Fish, Wixford A fish and chip hut in the summer, an immense play area (supports adult weight – we know, we’ve tested it) and a beautiful beer garden complete with a stream.

The Turf Tavern, Oxford Hidden down a little alleyway, this pub is amazing. Note: if you’re trying to get your dad to do you a favour, take him here. More ale than you can shake a stick at and in the winter they put out braziers so you can toast marshmallows and chestnuts.

THE FARM, SOLIHULL Lovingly restored in 2008, The Farm is one of the nicest pubs in the Midlands. There’s a great beer

The Red Lion, hunningham Unleash your inner geek and marvel at the impressive collection of comic book covers that sprawl the walls of this cheerful pub in Warwickshire.

#STUDENTFARMER - September 2013  

#studentfarmer is the NFU's magazine for the next generation of farmers.