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d 2013 If you're leaving school or college this year, take a look at the full-time courses, degrees and work-based apprenticeships available at Myerscough with a range of options across 20 subjects, including:


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January 2015


04 BEST OF BRITISH 10 THE FARMING REVOLUTION 15 BRITAIN CAN! 20 BOTTOMS UP! 24 THE GREAT BRITISH ROAST 28 THE WONKIER THE BETTER 33 A WOOLLY IDEA 34 FEET UP FRIDAY 37 THE TIME IS NOW 39 ROYAL HELPING HAND 41 WHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD? 42 BACK BRITISH FARMING 44 STEAL OUR THUNDER 49 A WILD REVOLUTION 50 THE UDDERGROUND We’re a patriotic bunch, so putting together a British edition was an easy choice. In fact, it was so easy we wondered why we had never done it before. Hopefully you’ll notice that we’ve really gone above and beyond to provide you with lots of fun features. We had the BEST time putting together this edition. We staged another epic photoshoot and had a great day with some brilliant young farmers on a farm in Ross-on-Wye. We created a beer with Shepherd Neame in Kent and we even appeared on Feet up Friday on Radio 1 – hopefully you heard us inflicting the Ghostbusters theme tune on the nation. Our new member of staff, Jim, has travelled up and down the country, doing weird and wonderful things in the name of #studentfarmer. And we

even won an award – Cover of the Year (for the second year running) at the PPA Independent Publisher Awards. Needless to say, we’ve been up to a lot since the last edition came out in September and we really hope you enjoy reading all about it! Our enthusiasm for this edition comes from the fact that we all love Britain and we truly believe that British farming is really special. There are so many young farmers out there doing brilliant things – there’s nothing we love more than meeting you all and featuring you in the magazine. With that in mind, we’re always on the lookout for columnists, people to feature and participants for our next crazy photoshoot. So if that sounds like something you’d like to do, drop us an email at

Thank you to… Ally Hunter Blair for letting us invade his farm for the day and everyone else involved in the Best of British photoshoot! Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn for designing our amazing cover Shepherd Neame for making the dream of creating our own beer a reality Radio 1 and the Greg James show for choosing us to appear on Feet up Friday Land Rover for lending us a Discovery. We may have cried when we had to give it back. The Great British Florist for providing us with beautiful blooms for our photoshoot.

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

Filled with words by: Victoria Wilkins and Jim McKeane

Designed by:

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

John Cottle

To advertise contact: Alan Brown



We think British farming is the best in the world. And not just because we’re biased – it’s a fact. Here ten young farmers tell us, in their own words, why British is best...

January 2015




Lydia jeffs-joory “British farming is the best because it brings people in a community together to produce something that is essential to consumers. At the same time we’re maintaining our environment and it really brings satisfaction to the people involved. I absolutely love the land and I feel that farming brings me closer to it. I love the camaraderie when everyone pulls together, especially around times like harvest – there’s nothing like it. Farming covers a wide range of areas, including science, design, breeding and much more. There’s so much potential. British is best because we have high standards and a strong sense of fair play.”

January 2015


Christina Cowell “We’ve got such high animal welfare standards and farmers here really care for the environment. Everyone’s enthusiastic about getting the next generation through too. People think that farming is just about getting your hands dirty and working all hours. But it’s completely the opposite. There are lots of different sectors that you can go into!”

Rich Manning “British is best because no one can do it like we can. Farming is a very exciting industry to be involved in. There are massive highs and massive lows and I think because it comes in big swings it keeps people on their toes and makes them constantly change, evolve and adapt. You should do what you enjoy, and if you enjoy farming, you should do it.”

James Manning “British farmers are set apart from everyone else because of their passion for the environment and their beautiful surroundings. They’re fantastic because they can nurture livestock from dairy to sheep to pigs, all from a young age. In Herefordshire we get to work alongside a bountiful crop. We’re proud to be part of it. British is best because we have a story. And people believe in it.”



Harry Clark

James Day

Jodie Hill

“British is best because we have hard-working farmers who care about what they produce. More people should embrace farming. It’s a fantastic industry and our population is growing – we need to produce more food to supply that massive demand. The varied work really attracted me to the industry. One day you can be looking at science-based projects, the next you can be out in the field. What other job offers you that kind of variety? Farming is an unhappy profession? I think not.”

“You don’t have to come from a farming background to be involved in the industry. I really like that welcoming attitude. New entrants from different backgrounds are just as good as those who have been brought up on the family farm. I’m from the city, so it was something totally unexpected for me to get involved in. I turn around and say I’m at agricultural college, and everyone looks at me as if it’s some kind of weird place. But when you tell them the story behind it they’re hooked.”

“British is best because it’s more of a community than an industry; if you needed any help, you know there would be another farmer out there willing to give you a hand. The harder you work, the more you get out of it. That’s what I like about farming – you’re only ever as good as what you put in, so it constantly drives you to do better and better.”

Lizzie Lee “British farmers are best because they’re able to adapt quickly and effectively to whatever life throws at them, especially changes in the weather which can make or break their business. We all stick together too, which is an added bonus. We don’t just have to feed our country now, we have to feed others too – that’s why we need more young people to come into the industry. I originally wanted to become a midwife but then I was persuaded to help with lambing one year. It really changed my mind. Besides there being no noise or screaming with lambs, it was just so rewarding – it truly puts a smile on your face.”

January 2015


Ally Hunter Blair “British farming is great because we produce some of the best food in the world. We’re regulated so heavily and it means that we have to produce the best food that we possibly can, because that’s what the consumer wants. There are a lot of very passionate farmers producing our food. In Britain, everyone is proud of what they do, in any business, and farming is no different. We want to shout about it. British weather is British weather, but it means that the yields are as good as they are in this country. It could be lovely and sunny one day, but then chuck it down the next; that provides challenges, but it’s what makes British farming great, as no two days are the same.”

Rebecca Kelsall “Everyone always pulls together – it’s like one big happy family. We’re proud to be British, and that comes across in our produce. When you’re a young person in farming, it’s great to be part of the community, with all the events and parties that go with it!”



the farming

Revolution This country has a proud history when it comes to tilling the soil, and the future’s equally bright. Jim McKeane takes a look at the technologies that make British farming great and tries his hand too!


STEEL TEARING UP THE GROUND Ploughing has been a constant feature in Britain for at least 4,000 years. For most of that time, ploughs changed very little and food production stayed steady. In 1730, Rotherham man Joseph Foljambe applied for a new patent. He had singlehandedly revolutionised plough design, allowing the cutting blades of the coulter and the share to be cast in steel and using steel plates on the mouldboard, which turns over the soil. All these improvements allowed the plough to be lighter, while making tearing up the ground more efficient. Iron could be sharpened much more easily than wood too. All this meant that two horses could draw a plough, whereas earlier ploughs required four or six.

HORSES FOR COURSES It’s because of these developments that a rank amateur like me is able to even

attempt to plough at all. In December I spent a great Sunday walking behind the plough with the team at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in West Sussex, learning something of the ploughman’s craft. When I get there, four grey horses are waiting for me. They’re Percherons, a breed originating in northern France. Known for their strength, they are intelligent and have a good temperament. Having got the bridles on, our teachers Rob Sampson and John McDermott swing the horses round and back them up to the ploughs. They’ve clearly done this before, because it’s seamless. The ploughs that we’re using are direct descendants of Foljambe’s earth-shattering design. On these ones, wheels have been added, which allow you to better set the depth and angle of the cutting blades by lowering or raising them.

GROUND BREAKING Our nemesis is a field of barley stubble which needs to be ploughed up. Ropes are used as reins but voice control is also crucial. Minor adjustments

are made all the time to keep it as straight as possible. When it’s my turn, I immediately realise the difficulty in shortening and slackening the reins while holding the plough handles. Once the horses are moving, the reins become the most important bit, as the plough follows (and furrows!) wherever they go. The right-hand horse needs be kept walking in the previous plough line to keep the spacing, while you have to make sure the left-hand beast doesn’t peel off in search of a

January 2015


Ploughing has been a constant feature in Britain for at



least 4,000 years snack. Despite all the things to think about, you get into a real groove with it after a while. If you get the chance to have a go, I would definitely recommend it! Although slow by modern standards, a good ploughman could do an acre a day using these same methods. Joseph Foljambe’s plough contributed to a doubling of the population between 1700 and 1820, which fuelled the Industrial Revolution by providing a workforce for a Britain that would soon become the so-called Workshop of the World.

If you fancy giving ploughing with horses a go yourself, the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum is a great place to start. Check them out at:

C’MON ON BABY, DO THE LOCOMOTION! Although horses were still being used for everyday work well into the 20th century – as anyone who’s seen War Horse knows – steam engines of all kinds changed the face of Britain and the countryside with it. As more and more people were sucked into sprawling cities, enticed by the huge expansion in jobs and the hope of a better life, road-going steam engines increasingly worked the fields. Huge cables were stretched across fields to draw the plough between pairs of engines, steam-spitting threshing machines separated the wheat from the chaff and fly-wheels propelled mighty sawblades, cleaving mammoth trees in twain. So I was really excited when I was invited to Cumbria to help Stuart Harrison on his engine, Western Star, or more affectionately, Wes. This Leeds-built beauty spent most of its life in Carmarthenshire ‘roading’ – that is, hauling heavy loads long distance. Wes is capable of lugging sixty tonnes

– more than the forty-four tonnes allowed for modern lorries in Britain, although they are probably slightly faster!

JUST AS DAY IS DAWNING Up at 8am, it’s time to stoke the fire and get some fuel in the tank. A full English does the trick nicely. We hurtle in convoy across wild moorland and through the Postman Pat rolling landscape. Destination: Old Hall Farm in Bouth. They still work the land using traditional methods and it’s also where Western Star lives most of the time.

GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY Opening the front of the boiler, the fire tubes need to be swept with a giant toothbrush on a stick. These tubes draw the fire through the boiler, heating the water inside. Next, it’s time to get the fire lit. We sling broken-up planks into the fire box as kindling. Coal is then added; the trick is to put it in all the corners, as well as the middle – which is easier than it looks! Oily old rags are doused in paraffin, before being set alight and chucked in.




SILICONE As we’ve seen, British farming has a proud tradition of innovation to reflect on. But we’re constantly looking to the future too. Technology is still revolutionising and reinventing this vibrant and ingenious industry.

GAME OF DRONES Without a doubt one of the coolest technologies to hit the industry in recent years, drones are changing modern British farming. Crops can now be inspected by drones flying to GPS co-ordinates, using infrared cameras to detect areas where weeds or blight have taken hold. Elsewhere, larger drones are already being used to spray affected areas.

REMOTE CHANCES Laser technology allows signals to be transmitted between tractors and points around the field. So you can now run several tractors at the same time without even getting behind the wheel.

AYE, ROBOTS Sophisticated robots are now able to clean udders and then milk, freeing up dairy farmers’ time. Health benefits have been reported and some say they increase production.

THERE’s an app FOR THAT Apps are also changing the way we look at agriculture. Becky Wilson and Claire Reigate of Duchy College invented one called the ‘Crap App’. Their main aim in life is to communicate the magical benefits that come from managing manure better. When they first started, all their friends thought they were crazy (walking around with buckets of slurry all the time can give that impression). The app is free and even works offline – check it out!

“Steaming up” – getting the engine going, or “in steam” takes about 90 minutes. So a quick KFC drive-thru is probably off the cards. But it does leave time for a cuppa. Now to find some hot water. Not that you’d want it out of the boiler – Iron Brew, anyone?

SMOKE ON THE WATER Once the temperature and pressure are up, there is enough steam to get this show on the road! Stuart spins the beast round – with each bit of the manoeuvre kicking out a mountain of steam. Bearing down on the nearby village, we stop to take on water. We roll out a huge hose and stick the nozzle in the stream to guzzle up gallon after gallon. Ten to twenty are spat out every mile.

STEAM UP AND DRIVE It’s now time to get my pretty grubby mitts on the controls. There are two bits to this, driving – setting the speed and the gears – and steering. Driving is a difficult job; first of all, standing on the moving engine is a feat in itself. Be careful of what you grab hold of to steady yourself, as what’s not spinning round with jagged cogs is likely to be red hot! The regulator, equivalent to the accelerator pedal, controls the amount of steam allowed through the pistons and so the force applied to the wheels. Quite difficult to open up, it is then immensely sensitive and the slightest movement can have a huge effect. The whole thing is a real experience, with all the different parts spinning round and thumping up and

down, spitting out oil, steam and hot water. As we drive past, people’s faces are classic – some look up at us as if at a tidal wave that is about to engulf them. One guy is so convinced we’ll run him over that he unilaterally reverses his beat-up Mondeo into a ditch. It is now up to me to avoid doing the same thing. Jumping on the steerman’s seat, I take the wheel. Unlike a car’s direct way of steering, here we’re actually dealing with a crank. So it really is a case of forward planning and taking a lot of care to keep the monster on the straight and narrow. I even drove it on the dual carriageway, but didn’t manage to get many overtakes in! Stuart Harrison runs courses on his steam engine from spring through to late autumn in an idyllic Cumbrian setting. Get a 10% discount by quoting the code ‘NFU’:

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An historic institution educating a modern world Writtle College, a partner of the University of Essex, has been educating the next generation of farmers for over 120 years. Our specialist courses are suited for school or college leavers and include apprenticeships, certificates, diplomas, degrees and masters programmes. • Agriculture • Animal Science/ Management • Conservation • Countryside and Environment

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January 2015


DAFT AS Dog’s A BRUSH dinner


O f f t o B e d f o r d s h i r e knees

BRITAIN CAN! British farmers are well-known for not letting anything stop them. Today, they are proving their adaptability with ever more innovative produce. We lift the lid on a few of our favourites

There’s nowt as q u e e r Fancy as folk a Brew?

A L R IGHT DU C K ? Cor blimey!






VODKA Whoever heard of making vodka from milk? Well a British dairy farmer has managed it. Black Cow Vodka is the brainchild of West Dorset farmer Jason Barber. His inspiration came from a desire to diversify the produce from his 250-strong dairy herd and his deep personal interest in vodka. “As a vodka drinker who has to be able to get up in the morning to milk and feed the cows, I felt I needed to drink a vodka which was smooth and clean,” he said. “Thinking along those lines made me think, what could be purer than milk? I set about making a vodka which was easy to drink and had as little a hangover as possible. Knowing the Mongolians conquered half the world on alcoholic mares’ milk, I knew it was going to be possible.”  Nothing is wasted in the process. The curds go to make Ford Farm’s cave aged cheddar and Barbers 1833 – both world champion cheddars. After the curds are taken off to make the cheese, the whey is then fermented into a beer using a special yeast that converts the milk sugar into alcohol. There is nothing in Black Cow apart from pure milk.

Steve Jones was told that quinoa couldn’t be grown in this country. Did that stop him? “Quinoa is very good for you, and when I first found out about it in 2005, I started thinking: “What’s to stop me actually growing this crop in the UK?” It turned out that there were quite a lot of reasons why it couldn’t be grown here, but over the years we have managed to overcome them and find suitable growing techniques.” At the moment, all of Steve’s quinoa goes into Pret A Manger salads, but he’s currently looking at milling quinoa into flour for making cakes, and also pressing it into flakes, so that you can use it in a similar manner to oat flakes and eat it for breakfast.

ESCARGOTS Helen Howard and her daughter wanted to try and find a gap in the market. “We don’t have a farm, so when my daughter went to agricultural college we looked around for an agricultural activity that didn’t require a lot of land,” she said. “Sometimes we get fugitive snails, but luckily they have homing instincts. You have to starve them before you send them so that they’re ready to cook, as they will eat everything in sight if you give them the chance.”

January 2015




Well, it wouldn’t be very British of us to leave out tea, would it? Tregothnan is the only tea-growing plantation in the country and the estate has been dabbling in botanical experiments since 1334. They’ve been putting the English into English tea since 2005, when they first started supplying it, and they haven’t looked back since. The Cornish estate has the perfect conditions for tea and their tipple has been heralded the ‘new Darjeeling’. So now you know.

The British are fiercely proud of their beef, but every so often, they’re happy to be beaten at their own game. Wagyu beef cows are native to the Land of the Rising Sun where they were developed as a closed breed well into the nineteenth century, as Japan’s borders had been well and truly closed for 200 years. In fact, the name Wagyu literally means ‘Japanese cow’. The genetics of these cattle are such that the meat they produce is intensely marbled with fat. When cooked, some of the fat melts into the meat itself, making for a highly succulent and flavourful dish. The breed is becoming increasingly recognised on these shores; so much so that the Wagyu Breeders Association was recently established. Brits are now producing excellent quality Wagyu, harnessing the nourishment of our lush grasslands and the beef raising expertise of these isles.

EDIBLE FLOWERS Let’s be honest – flowers aren’t everyone’s first choice on the specials board in the pub. But a grower in Devon is determined to prove that they have a place on your plate. Rachel Voaden started the Edible Flower Shop after being inspired by a local pub who garnished their salads with flowers. From pansies to polyanthus, Rachel grows a wide range of flowers for garnishing, eating and seasoning. She admits that she was sceptical to start with, but with an online business constantly expanding, she’s put that idea well in the past.

Yes, you read that right. According to Dr Sarah Beynon, from Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm, we all need to start paying more attention to the dung beetle. “They’re so important to farmers in the UK,” she said. “Cattle can produce six per cent of their body weight in dung every day. How much productive grassland could we lose each year if it were covered in cattle dung? In England, it’s 161,826ha, which is bigger than London. Wales would lose 42,515ha – that’s more than three times the area of Cardiff. Dung beetles are essential to breaking all this down but they’re in decline.”

KIWI FRUIT, APRICOTS AND MULBERRIES Mark Diacono grows a number of weird and wonderful crops on his smallholding, Otter Farm. Just a few examples are kiwi fruit, pecans, almonds and apricots. “Don’t be too worried about what’s normal – what’s normal is just what somebody else has done before,” Mark said. “Just ensure you are doing something that you’re really excited about.” A lot of the things he grows have fallen out of the public’s favour, such as quinces and mulberries.

Advertising feature

Easton and Otley College is a landbased educational establishment based in both Norfolk and Suffolk.


aston and Otley College came together in August 2012. (Prior to that, two separate colleges Easton based in Norfolk and Otley based in Suffolk existed). Part of the reasoning behind the coming together of two established educational establishments was to promote agriculture and land-based courses to new generations of people in East Anglia and beyond. In 2014, the college set about a targeted mission of helping to promote farming in to new audiences as this is how they got on. In August 2014 the college created a video that was aimed at trying to get more young people interested in farming. They re-wrote the classic ‘Combine Harvester’ song – made famous by the pop group The Wurzels. Students and staff featured in the video along with professional dancers. The main lead dancer - Jennifer Jayne-Stone - had previously body doubled for the superstar singer J-Lo. The Wurzels themselves commented on the video and ‘national treasure’ Stephen Fry got in on the act by retweeting the short film on his Twitter account. The video quickly starting gaining thousands of views, the national media and radio also got involved and so far over 58,000 people have watched the song. The college was also involved in a scarecrow campaign called The Final Straw ( ). Six scarecrows were placed in 18 locations across East Anglia to help draw attention to the college’s farming intentions. People were encouraged to take ‘scarecrow selfies’ and Stephen Fry took a picture of himself with a scarecrow whilst partaking in a book signing in Norwich. He posted the comment ‘an outstanding man in his field’ in relation to the scarecrow. Director of marketing and enterprise at the college, Clare Dyble, said, “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support we have received. Part of our long term aim is to attract more young people towards farming and landbased careers to counteract skills shortfalls in industries such as agriculture, construction and horticulture.” Staff and students taking part in the ‘combine harvester’ farming video

“We wanted both of these campaigns to be fun, interactive and engaging – the fact that people like Stephen Fry felt inspired to support us is brilliant news. He helps get our message out to a larger audience (he has over seven million followers on Twitter) and we are very grateful for his support. We are also very thankful of the amazing backing that we have had from businesses and the general public,” she added. Easton and Otley College was also the host of a national competition that aimed to find a champion UK ‘apprentice’ farmer. The show was called The Farmers Apprentice and was aired online via the website of one of the competition partners, Farmers Weekly - (You can still check out the competition to see who wins the series has six episodes in total). The show is based loosely on the format of the TV show - The Apprentice - made famous first in America by the billionaire business bod Donald Trump - and then in the UK thanks to Alan ‘you’re fired’ Sugar. 48 people initially entered by submitting a video explaining why they should be considered to be chosen as a contestant. Ten finalists were chosen and were set business related tasks during a boot camp at the college in August. One winner will receive the top prize of £10,000. College spokesperson, John Nice, said, “We were delighted to be the host of this excellent Apprentice style competition. It very much reflects part of our overall mission as we all need to be doing something constructive to encourage more people to take up careers in agriculture.” “The challenge is to try and inspire new generations in a fun and interactive way and this is something that we are continually trying to do. We visit lots of local schools and talk to them around harvest time in relation to food and how it is farmed. We have an annual lambing weekend and open events for families and friends to come and get a glimpse of the work that we do across the college. We actively promote ourselves at school events and county shows and one of our students even met JB Gill from the pop group JLS in a bid

Advertising feature

The winning team of the 2014 Cereals Challenge Easton & Otley College. From left to right Kyran List, Helen Robinson, Lewis Fyans and Owen Smith

Contestants and the presenter of the Farmers Apprentice at the start of the competition

to promote agriculture to new generations.” (Since leaving JLS, JB continues to work on developing his farm in Kent). George Brown, the first Farmers Apprentice crowned in 2012 said: “The networking opportunity that came with the competition was invaluable, and has ultimately led to me securing a fantastic new position in the UK. The boot camp was challenging but great fun, and there aren’t too many other ways that I could acquire £10,000 in a week.” (Other sponsors involved are Anglia Farmers, BAYER Cropscience, EDGE Apprenticeships, Farmcare, McDonalds UK, New Holland UK and ROI and Reed Business Information). Marketing campaigns aside, students from the college showed their class and potential earlier in the year by winning a national crop growing agricultural competition. The farming learners took part in an event called The Cereals Challenge. All those who entered the competition were given a plot of land in Chrishall Grange farm in Cambridge where they have been growing a crop of winter barley throughout the period of a year.

Stephen Fry backs the college ‘scarecrow’ campaign

Students had to deal with real time decisions with the aim of making the most profits on their yields. They (the students) were judged on two factors – their ability to make input decisions and control costs. The students qualified to take part in the finals after participating in a series of regional competitive challenges against other college and University teams. They (Easton and Otley) then beat teams from Harper Adams, Newcastle Uni, Nottingham Uni and the Royal Agrictultural University to win first prize in the national finals. Dr Tony Wilson, from the agricultural department at the college, said, “I’m proud of my students.” “They embraced the competition and took the challenges that they have faced in their stride. You simply can’t beat the value of working on a ‘real-life’ project such as this and to win this national competition is incredible.” Student Owen Smith, said, “The challenge provided a steep learning curve. My experiences gave me an insight in to the decisions that are taken by a farm manager. Overall I have relished the challenge and my overall experiences have been very positive.”

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



BOTTOMS UP! The history of the British pint goes back centuries. We’re wired to love the stuff (once we turn 18, of course) writes Jim McKeane



When Shepherd Neame kindly agreed to produce a beer for us, there was a flurry of selflessness at #studentfarmer mission control. Everyone was happy to be involved and help out as much as possible. The generosity really was remarkable. Anyway, the day finally arrived and the lucky team involved followed the yellow-brick road (M25) to Kent, circumnavigating London in the luxury of a champagne gold Fiat 500L. After a good deal of dubious music choices and questionable automotive interior design, the freeway-flying was at an end.

We are led tantalisingly through the on-site pub, into the courtyard. Its red bricks are thoroughly scarred. In the olden days, the draymen delivery drivers would typically slake their thirst at each of the fourteen inns on their round. With the driver asleep at the reins, the designated draft horses would heave home, taking a rather blinkered view of parallel parking!

BEER STREET Getting into town, we followed our noses as the warm, bready, mashy aromas guided us to Court Street, the location of Britain’s oldest brewer. The natural, chalk-filtered mineral water drew brewers here long before their beer drew us, and the first recorded brewery dates back to 1327. Shepherd Neame itself has been a constant fixture since 1698, and now makes 1.6m pints each week. There are always 4m pints of beer being made at any one time.

LET’S HAVE A BREW Trundling up a spiral staircase we kick off the brewing process where it all starts, with just four ingredients: water, barley, hops and yeast. The barley is first malted, dried, then left until sprouting is possible. The seeds are then placed in water. The result is then dried again after which varying degrees of kiln-heating make different kinds of malts, from chocolatey ones to lighter sorts. This is all mixed with hot water to make a mash. The hot water releases the sugars from the malt and makes what’s called the wort. Once cool, yeast is added, which consumes the sugars, producing alcohol. Carbon dioxide is a by-product of the process and

January 2015

provides the bubbles. The water comes from a well below the brewery, which has been used since 1507 and shows no signs of running out (fingers crossed!) The process both starts and ends at the farm – local farmers grow the hops, and they’re sent back the hop residue, which is used as a fertiliser, and the excess yeast, which is used in pig food.

HOP IT There’s a chance to taste everything, including the very potent hops. Now, listen up, because this is very important – if you ever go on a brewery tour, and they offer you these to try, don’t do it. Two months on, we can still taste it. We took the hit so you don’t have to. Anyway, the hops flavour the beer and make it last longer. During the fermentation process they act as an antibacterial agent, stopping anything other than the yeast doing its magic. Kent is famous for its hops and some of the beers – Spitfire, Master Brew and Bishops Finger – have Protected Geographical Indicator status under European law, just like Cornish pasties, or Stilton. But unlike Cornish pasties or Stilton, they can only be brewed in this brewery using hops grown within a 25-mile radius.

CLOSING TIME, jim We proceed into what looks like the facility from the opening of Goldeneye, a grate walkway flanked by huge cast-steel tanks. The yeast is added to the wort and left in these huge fermentation containers. They hold 72,000 pints at any given time – that’s more than you can drink in your entire lifetime. The lady tells us that this is a fact, and in no way a challenge.

HAVE SOME TASTE There are 800 different taste components in a pint of beer. A sample of every batch of beer is kept in the archives for


future reference. Shepherd Neame has a taste panel which meets every other day. We were very anxious to play our part in the quality control effort. It’s important to watch for the three Cs: colour, clarity and condition. Check out the colour by holding the beer up to the light. Clarity can be determined by putting your fingers behind the glass and seeing whether they are visible. Condition is the ‘sparkle’, the way in which the CO2 makes the beer fizz when all’s well. Tipping the glass to one side, the foam should linger where the beer has been. Obviously, you’ll look a bit of a wally if you do this in the student union – best saved for the local pub.

THE HUMBLE HOP The hop, or humulus lupulus if you like (and we do because it’s hilarious) is a one-stop chemistry set for the brewer. Each contains well over 1,000 complex compounds in the form of resins and essential oils. They thrive in temperate climates and in loamy, deep, well-drained soils. They also require long days of summer light to flourish, making Kent, Hereford and Worcestershire the perfect places to grow them. Shepherd Neame is a guardian of the nation’s hop-growing heritage and it put aside land to house part of the National Hop Collection, so that rare varieties can be safeguarded forever.



Introducing….. the #studentfarmer ale!


f you’d told us when we created the first edition of this magazine that one day we’d have our own beer we wouldn’t have believed you. It would have sounded suspiciously like something we’d do, but we wouldn’t have believed you anyway. When we emailed Shepherd Neame with our ‘great idea’, we half expected them to send back a video of everyone in their offices laughing hysterically at our suggestion. First of all, it’s a bit cheeky. Second of all, we’re pretty certain that they receive loads of ‘brilliant ideas’ like this all the time. So imagine our surprise when they got back to us and said they thought it was a great idea too. Would we like a pale ale, designed to suit all palettes with a sweet maltiness that balances perfectly with the fresh pine notes? Let’s think about that for a second…

YES! We were able to design the labels ourselves, which were then placed on the bottles at Shepherd Neame. We’re really pleased with the finished result and we hope you like it too!

W IN !

We will be giving aw ay bottles of our beer on our Twit ter and Facebook pages, so to be in with a chance to win, mak e sure you follow us at @stud entfarmer and like us at facebo studentfarmer!

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January 2015


the GREAT BRITISH ROAST No meal makes you think of home more than the classic roast dinner – and it’s all thanks to British farmers


bviously we can’t do an edition about Great Britain without doing something about the beloved roast dinner. Once you get to university, cooking your first roast is a right of passage. However, it can be a bit off-putting – after all, if you’ve only just perfected the art of using the toastie maker, a fully blown roast dinner can seem like a bit of a leap. That’s where we come in. With our help, we’ll get you cooking a massive piece of meat and producing amazing roast potatoes in no time. We debated over which meat to cook. Oh, how we debated. But in the end, our friends at Love Chicken suggested that we focus on poultry. And a good idea it was too – many people are a bit nervous about cooking a massive chicken, not least because of the stories in the news about campylobacter. But never fear; hold our hand (not that one, it’s got a carving knife in it) and we’ll show you how to cook a roast chicken dinner.

But what else? What else indeed. A single chicken does not a roast dinner make. First things first: never underestimate the importance of the roast potato. Make as many as you can – then make some more

Get a lemon. Make some holes in it with a knife and the shove it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then shove it up the chicken (sorry, there’s no delicate way to put that). Throw a few sprigs of herbs such as rosemary up there too, and you’re golden.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking ‘well, we’ve got roast potatoes, so we don’t need more potato-based dishes’. It’s not about needing, it’s about wanting – you’re British, you can eat more carbs than that. Get your masher out, maybe even treat yourself to a bit of dauphinoise. Just don’t boil potatoes – you could have roasted those

Rub a bit of olive oil into the chicken, throw on some salt and pepper and then gently place the bird in an oven which is preheated to about 190°C. For extra flavour surround the chicken with roughly chopped carrots, parsnips, onion and garlic. But there’s loads of ways to cook a chicken – head over to for lots of recipes.

Yorkshire puddings are not just for beef dinners. WE CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH. Make loads so you can eat some cold too


Cooking a chicken isn’t rocket science. Oven on, chicken in, happy days. But here are a few tips for poultry glory:

Safety first

Campylobacter sounds terrifying (we shorten it to ‘campy’ for this very reason) but actually, it’s incredibly simple to avoid. First up, don’t wash the chicken. Grannies love doing this, but giving your chicken a quick bath can spread germs around. So just put it straight in the tin. And then cook it properly. When you think it’s ready, make a cut in the thickest part of the chicken – if the juices run clear, your chicken is ready to be gobbled. And if you start cutting it and think ‘Oh, that bit looks a tad pink’ simply shove it back in the oven for a few minutes.

What’s better than a vegetable? A ROASTED vegetable, that’s what! Parsnips, carrots – throw them all in the oven. Have some fresh too though – it’ll make your mum happy We’ll leave you with one final piece of advice. Get yourselves a sweet potato. Ladies – it’s a vegetable, it’s healthy and it’s SWEET. Prayers = answered



Meet the young farmers behind our roast

Lauren Hladun from Lincolnshire is on a quest to produce the best potatoes behind your creamy mash and crispy roasts. They’re the life and soul of the roast dinner party – big up those taters! Lauren’s family have been growing potatoes on their third generation family farm in Lincolnshire for more than 40 years. What makes their taters extra special? The soil, as it’s great for packing grade potatoes with a good skin finish. It’s a great industry, and not like the stereotypes suggest. I think it is important to encourage young people into the industry because it hasn’t been viewed as being that ‘fashionable’ or well paid, but there are some great business opportunities and the work can be very rewarding when you see your product on the shelf, for example. I really hope agriculture will be featured more often and more positively in the school curriculum. We produce our potatoes with love. Our product is special because a family team lovingly produces it, with each person playing an important role from planting to harvesting and grading – even Buddy the dog likes to help! My mum is great at carting and my brother is chief of the harvester.

We can’t only eat carbs and meat – we’re not cavemen. Providing some colour to our plate are the Bartlett brothers, Toby and Oliver, who produce the brightest carrots we’ve EVER seen – fact. Get your sunglasses on, here are our top carrot and parsnip producing brothers. The Bartlett family have been growing carrots since 1968 and parsnips since 1986. From a young age the brothers traveled around the fields and the factory with their dad, and have been hooked on moving the business forward ever since. The next generation is crucial. It’s always great to get new ideas from the next generation and don’t forget we also need to feed the nation! It’s a great industry to be in – it’s fast paced and technology is rapidly changing the face of farming.    Big up the British. British produce will always be freshest – we can go from harvesting to store in as little as 48 hours. You can also rely on British vegetables coming from assured farms so the veg you buy is the very best quality. We aim to grow and pack all of our UK produce ourselves. By looking after the whole process from seed to store we can guarantee availability, freshness and quality.

Bringing a healthy bird to the table is 28-year-old Alec Mercer, who knows a good chicken when he sees one. He’s not a fan of that pathetic thin gravy – thick is where it’s at. What good is a roast without good British meat? Alec started farming poultry on the family farm when he left university. Four generations of the family had farmed the land in Staffordshire, – Alec started his own free-range poultry business, and now processes 3,000 birds a week. Agriculture is full of opportunities. During the recession the agricultural industry stood firm and we’re safe with regards to jobs in the future. I think with all the technology and breeding changes, the future looks ultra exciting with all the challenges facing the world. It means there will be more demand. Agriculture is getting a lot more attention than it did 10-15 years ago. It’s now at the forefront of the government’s mind. British truly is the best. We’re rearing to higher standards, in control of the chain and we set out the standards we’re rearing to, then we see them carried through. We know exactly what we’re getting, so the traceability and provenance is higher.

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The wOnkier, the betTer Us Brits are renowned for being eccentric. So when did we decide that we should shun misshapen fruit and veg? We’re all about the weird, the different and the ever-so-slightly odd looking

January 2015



Disclaimer: the following only works if you imagine it being bellowed by Brian Blessed

nce upon a time, a few years ago, some people got together. You know the type – people who don’t like dogs and who think conkers are dangerous. They decided that wonky fruit and vegetables were bad – they wanted all potatoes to look the same and they never found it funny when parsnips were shaped like body parts. They shouted their message far and wide and, believe it or not, people listened. Slowly but surely, people stopped giggling at oddly shaped carrots in shops. They feared the wonky turnip. Supermarkets stopped stocking them, such was the power of the epidemic. Dark days.

WELL, NOT ON OUR WATCH. We want celeriac that looks like brains. We want sweet potatoes that look like Cyril Sneer’s nose from The Racoons (watch it – amazing). “But what if my carrot looks RUDE?!” we hear you cry. Well, we say: THE RUDER THE BETTER. If it wouldn’t shock your granny, then don’t waste your time. You’re better than that.

So don’t walk past the oddly shaped potato left in the box, all on its own. Hold it aloft and cry: “You’re coming with me, underdog of the vegetable world! I will peel you and yes, it will be tricky. But I’m British – two world wars didn’t get the better of us, so I’ll be damned if a potato with a sticky-out bit will!”



In a pickle Meet Jenny, the founder of Rubies in the Rubble. She had a eureka moment when she read an article on food waste in a packed train on London’s underground. Now she’s determined to prove that thrown-out vegetables have feelings (and taste) too with her amazing chutneys

That article really got the cogs turning. It got me thinking about how much food we throw away, how much food is wasted throughout our supply chain and what I could do to change it.

taking fruit and veg from the market and turning it into chutneys. We now work with farmers directly, taking produce when there is no buyer, or supply and demand issues, or if it’s out of specification for supermarkets.

The more you put in, the more you get out.

They’ve got feelings too.

We make everything by hand, we’re generous with ingredients and we are committed to our community. We don’t throw anything away. Our ingredients have to pass a taste test, not a beauty contest. Whether it’s under-sized, in over-abundance, or just plain pear-shaped, we want it and we’ll love it. What matters to us is making what we think is the best chutney around. The name ‘Rubies in the Rubble’ represents a product – and one we’re really proud of – but it also represents a process.

The products we are using are surplus items below specification, but they’re just as good as something that is alright to sit on a supermarket shelf – just because they’re different, doesn’t mean that they don’t taste amazing. They often taste better!

There’s loads of care and attention in farming. My father runs a beef farm on the west coast of Scotland. Just knowing how much care and attention and work goes into getting the food from the farm into the food chain, as well as knowing the variety of stages it goes through, made me really want to help make use of all that waste.

We had a little kitchen inside a massive market. We originally started at a wholesale fruit and vegetable market in East London, which ran from midnight till 6am. There were 700,000 tonnes of fresh fruit and veg sold there, and traders would buy by the pallet load to be sold around the country, fresh for that day. We had a kitchen onsite,

It’s important to value our food. I think as a nation we know that we have to use these waste products, but it’s not often as easy. We’re trying to be a company that goes the extra mile. We want to change the attitude around how we value food, and get people thinking about what goes into getting that little carrot, parsnip, or even meat onto their plate at meal times. There’s a lot of love there.

Food waste? That’s different, right? People wouldn’t be seen twice throwing plastic bags around. Most don’t realise that food waste has an environmental impact too. People see the food on their plate as compostable, and that it won’t change anything if they waste it as they’ve paid for it already. They don’t think about the resources that have gone into producing it – the water, electricity and labour. It’s time for them to think about it.

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January 2015


A WOOLLY IDEA The wool industry has been of utmost importance to Great Britain for hundreds of years. And, thanks to farmers such as Lewis Steer, it’s still important today It all started with my great great grandmother.

Traceability is best.

Good old Lily Warne farmed at the turn of 19th century, with the same breed as us, Grey-Faced Dartmoors. All the wool we produce is now named after things relating to Lily, her breeding or the wool we produce.

We’ll never ever use a machine. We could maybe make more money but it’s the principle. People used to tell me that Dartmoors aren’t viable and that the fleece quality would never be good enough, but we’ve proved them wrong. You don’t need top of the range items, or to go abroad to get good quality stuff. We’re perfectly able to do it within the UK – you’ve just got to have a little faith.

Big up the original ladies. It was my mum’s side that carried on knitting through the ages. As a reward for doing well in my GCSEs, my dad bought me a couple of sheep – as you do. At the same time, my great grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the one thing she found pleasure in doing was knitting. She was always talking about how she couldn’t find a decent yarn, so I decided to take the fleeces down to the local mill and get them woven. She gave me her word that the wool was brilliant.

I’m a one-breed man. We have 50 Dartmoor on our farm in Devon – there are only 3,500 of this breed nationally. The quality of the wool is heavier, which means the knitted and crocheted garments hold better and for longer. I love the breed so much that I sit on the Dartmoor sheep committee, and I’m the youngest person to do so.

I learnt shearing the hard way. I hand clip my own flock and electric sheer other flocks. I was taught to hand shear by a lady called Mary Kirkham, who was an old-fashioned Dartmoor farmer in Chagford. Not many people know how to do it. Mary was crippled with arthritis and sat on a deck chair and taught me, aided with her walking stick. Every time I did it wrong she would clip me around the ear with her stick. It’s amazing what you can learn when you’ve got a stick flying towards your face.

We’re one big family. Most of our knitters are older ladies, who are retired and just love to knit. We make sure everything is knitted and crocheted within 15 minutes of the farm, most of which is done whilst sitting in front of the TV or over a hot brew. We’ve now got six ladies who knit and three seamstresses. They’re trying to teach me how to knit – it’s not going well, but they want me to know what it’s like to knit all these ideas that I come up with. Thanks to them we’re now in 48 shops and 14 John Lewis stores.

From farm to yarn we trace it. We can trace everything we do, which is really important, not only to us as a business, but for the people who buy our product. I manage the flock, shear the sheep, choose when they go to the ram and both mum and I lamb them. It’s my responsibility to get that fleece off the sheep’s back, to the mill and made into yarn. It’s spun, scoured, organically dyed and then comes back to the farm to be balled, packaged and branded.

Work? No thanks. This isn’t work for me. If you enjoy it, it’s not work. Obviously it’s not ideal when it’s raining and you’ve got a sheep running away from you, but it keeps you on your toes.



#studentfarmer goes


I’m on the M25. I’m not in a happy place, geographically or emotionally. However someone is. And that person is #studentfarmer deputy editor Vicky. The phone rings and a manic, primal screech is unleashed into the car which currently houses/imprisons three members of the studentfarmer team – Jim, John and myself (Emily). Initially, Vicky is just squealing without intent, but finally we get some actual words out of her: “WE’VE BEEN SHORTLISTED FOR FEET UP FRIDAY!” Let’s rewind a bit, shall we? The week before we’d been brainstorming what we could do to raise the profile of the magazine. Without spending any money. Vicky, in her infinite wisdom, suggests that we submit an application for Feet Up Friday, which takes place on the Greg James show every Friday on Radio 1. Convinced we didn’t stand a chance, we submit an application and then promptly forget all about it. Fast-forward a week and in-between squeals Vicky tells us that the Greg James team will call us back if we make it into the final two. So we wait. The phone rings. Excitedly I answer it. It’s someone selling PPI. The phone rings again. It’s John prank calling me from the back seat. Nice. The phone rings again. “Nice try John, I’m not falling for that. AGAIN.” But it’s not John. It’s Vicky. And the squealing is back.

We’re in Have you ever driven down the M40 at rush hour, full of excitement and unadulterated terror? Silly question, if you’ve ever driven on the M40 of course you have – the terror part, at least. We knew this was a Big Deal – I didn’t need to go anywhere near Google to find out roughly how many people would be listening to us. I knew it would be in the millions. So the next day, we got to work on our playlist. If you’ve never listened to

Feet Up Friday (in which case, where have you been?) the format is roughly as follows: two teams of four take part. Both teams submit a playlist. The show plays a snippet of the songs, the public vote for their favourite and then the winners take over the show for half an hour. It goes without saying that our playlist was EPIC. More on this later. And so it came to be that four slightly twitchy and sweaty country folk rocked up at the BBC studios in London. One of us was hopeful (Jim), one excited (Vicky), one terrified (me) and one clutching a bribe in the form of cake (Becca). The first hour or so consisted of us answering questions about our most embarrassing moments, weird celebrity crushes and strangest skills. I won’t mention names, but one of us modelled shower curtains as a child and another fancies Hugh Grant. I’m not sure which is worse. Obviously, we also tried to psychologically intimidate our competition, four lads from Manchester, by showing off Becca’s baking skills and throwing into the conversation that Vicky can do a pretty mean dolphin impression. Needless to say, they were terrified.

The studio We’re shepherded into the Live Lounge. Yes, the Live Lounge. Greg comes out to meet us and he’s proper lovely. In fact, the whole team is – they’re very good at making you forget that MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE LISTENING. No pressure. We’re asked to not swear, several times. And then, before we know it, we’re in the studio, microphones a centimetre from our faces, as Greg introduces us to the nation. We talk about our sheep cake (Becca), how much we hate fish cooked in milk (Jim), the magazine (Vicky) and how much we hate public proposals (me). We’re a pretty random bunch, but luckily the listeners don’t take an immediate dislike to us. Greg plays a snippet of three songs that each team has chosen and I feel a momentary wave of doubt when the

January 2015


glory mer playlist of The #studentfar Ray Parker Jnr. Ghostbusters – e – Christina Lady Marmalad Aguilera, etc ings – Blink 182 All the Small Th is Milkshake - Kel - ACDC Back in Black ckstreet No Diggity - Bla N Sync Bye Bye Bye – at didn’t make th e re th e th nd A the cut… Ignition – R Kelly ith el Air – Will Sm B of e nc ri P h Fres il Lavigne Skaterboi – Avr

other team’s Take That choice blasts out. But it’s ok – because we have a secret weapon.

GHOSTBUSTERS Except it doesn’t ensure victory. As we’re waiting, the screens in the room seem to suggest that Team 1 have won. Under an instruction to ‘announce the winners’ their song choices are blinking at me, angrily. We shrug at each other, as the other team exchange triumphant glances. And then, just as we’ve completely given up hope, the screen changes. Our song choices are listed beneath theirs. WE’RE BACK IN THE GAME. And we won. WE WON. Of course we won, we played Ghostbusters. Shortly before we play it, I excitedly announce that it’s the best song ever recorded. By the way, I'm in no way exaggerating – I genuinely believe this. In short, we have a brilliant half an hour. We have a chat,

read out tweets and generally try not to make fools of ourselves on national radio. Well, three of us do, Vicky does her impression of a dolphin, so make of that what you will. Something else that’s great? Turning on your phone when you get outside the studios. I’ve never felt so popular in my life. So, if we have one piece of advice, it’s this: get a gang of friends together and apply. Mention how great farming is while you’re at it. And if you’re lucky enough to get through, remember the important rule – play Ghostbusters and you can’t fail.

Top tweets Sam Roberts: Not going to lie, I sang my heart out and laughed my backside off to #feetupfriday on @BBCR1 on the drive home. Brilliant stuff!

Amy Goslin: Actually best #feetupfriday ever!

Brooke Stuart: This #feetupfriday is making my day! Ghostbusters and NSYNC?! Perfect.

Lee Cowper: Huge queues at the Severn bridge. Let’s get all the young farmers tooting their horns together!

Ben Lewis: #feetupfriday is

Chan: This mix is making my

Andrew Prentice: Shreddin'

studying way more tolerable. Thanks #feetupfriday!

my air guitar to ACDC, well done #feetupfriday

Eli Hey: No better thing to milk cows to than #feetupfriday on @BBCR1

Megan Beth Watkins: This is the best #feetupfriday EVER so many tunes!

top notch! Definitely a highlight of the week, some absolute bangers here!

Leading Solar Energy Generator Hosts Launch of a Pioneering Partnership to Explore Solar Farms and Agriculture An exciting new project to explore the relationship between solar farms and agriculture was launched at Moulton College, on Thursday 11th December. Moulton College has joined forces with the University of Northampton and Lightsource Renewable Energy, the UK’s Leading Solar Energy Company, to evaluate solar installations as a viable diversification for farm businesses. Fa rm-based sola r energ y generation in the form of photovoltaic (PV) installations on rooftops or at a field ‘solar farm’ scale have become increasingly popular. This two-year study will measure the impact of solar energy on rural businesses, as well as create an unbiased, online toolkit that will aim to help farmers and landowners decide whether or not it is sustainable to install solar power.

Guy Smith, NFU Vice President, speaks at the launch event.

Lightsource, the UK’s leading solar energy generator. A talented post-graduated is being sought to lead the project and applications are open from December 11th to January 24 2015. The full time Master of Philosophy project project - fully funded by the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust and Lightsource - is open to those who have, or expect to receive, a first or upper-second class honours degree, or equivalent or an MSc/ MRes in a relevant discipline. Conor McGuigan, director of development for Lightsource, said: “ We have found there to be a real lack of credible information for rural businesses wishing to explore diversification with solar power.

“Demonstrating our commitment to rural communities, we believe that by teaming up with Moulton College and the University of Northampton, that we can create a much needed independent and scientifically-based resource that will provide a sound foundation of information. We hope it will demonstrate that solar power can be a viable and trusted source of sustainable income - the perfect partner for growing business and even succession planning.” For more information on how your rural business can benefit from solar power contact the Lightsource Communications Team on 0333 200 0755 or

Guests ask questions at the launch.

The study will involve the use of Moulton College’s own facilities including a 550 ha mixed farm, supervision from both the college and the university, as well as working directly with staff from

U K’s No 1. Solar Energy Company

January 2015


Why is it a good time for young people to get into farming? The NFU’s Cereals Development Programme participants tell us why the time is now

I think it’s a fantastic industry to be in. The fact that technology is moving so fast makes it really exciting! I love my day job, there are different tasks for every day of the year, be it drilling, combining, spraying, or bringing in cattle. All these different things happen at various points in the year – it’s constantly changing. My friends are always really interested to hear what I’m up to!

Simon Adney, Shropshire

It’s great to be in an industry that is fashionable, with lots of different people taking an interest. It doesn’t matter whether you are livestock or arable. The consumer is placing more emphasis on where food comes from.

Ed Allen, Oxfordshire

I think it’s always a fantastic time to be involved. There’s no other industry like farming. We’ve got a great future. The world’s population is growing and they will need feeding. The technology is there to get the best yields. It’s great to be at the cutting edge. If you’re positive, you can get there. I know a guy local to me who started from scratch, and he’s just taken over a 200acre tenancy.

Tom Rees, Pembrokeshire

I was away from farming for a long time, working in London for seven years. The older I got, the stronger the draw to come back into farming became. It helps that over the past ten years, farming has become a more attractive place to be, a place to have a career and make the business pay. It’s a brilliant time. I’ve had the time to go out and do different things and realise what unique opportunities there are in farming!

Joe Johnson, Leicestershire

There’s definitely a future in farming, though that wasn’t always the case. Previously farming went through BSE, foot and mouth, and grain markets were on the floor. It’s still hard work, but things are looking up. With the right attitude, any young person can make it!

Daniel Hares, Buckinghamshire

I recently joined the industry, having spent eight years working in London. Now is a great time to get involved because there is so much technological advancement. When I was working in the City, a friend of mine was working in a venture capital firm and his inbox was clogged with people who wanted to put money forward for agritech ideas. There are so many young, new technologies out there. It’s definitely for the younger generation to embrace those. And farming generally is more open and welcoming than any other industry – it’s more than a job, it’s a way of life.

Sam Cooper, Yorkshire

There are so many opportunities that people don’t realise are there. If you look at other sectors, farming is probably a little less competitive. There is so much scope, you could be working in poultry, beef, pigs, sheep, arable. You could be working in an office, in a field or in a machinery dealership. Or you could be working as an agronomist. Getting into agriculture opens so many doors!

Georgie Cossins, Dorset

I think it’s really exciting to be a young person in agriculture at the moment because there are some huge challenges facing the industry. If it was all easy, everyone would want to do it. There’s a bit of a buzz around agriculture at the moment. People are starting to have more money and they want to know where their food’s coming from. Young farmers are the future. If we can now start publicising our work and getting into education systems, then we can change the stereotypes that surround farming.

Ally Hunter Blair, Herefordshire

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January 2015



H LPING HAND The Prince’s Countryside Fund strives to secure a sustainable future for the British countryside and gives much-needed funding to organisations and charities that are helping to protect and sustain Britain’s farming and rural communities. Since it was created in 2010, The Prince’s Countryside Fund has given £4.4m in grants to 105 projects across the country, directly benefitting 80,000 people – many of whom are young people beginning a career in the farming industry.

Projects are considered on their contribution to one of three key countryside issues:

Thriving rural communities

rural livelihoods

Projects that provide innovative solutions to deliver assets and services that keep rural communities together and develop a more sustainable rural economy i.e. empowering communities to provide village services or create business hubs and employment for local people.

Projects that focus on developing stronger, more sustainable farm and rural enterprises with the aim of halting the decline of the rural economy i.e. providing rural businesses with support and advice or supporting farmer-led initiatives.

Farmers of the future Projects that help improve skills and increase opportunities of taking up rural careers, in particular in farming, with the aim of helping people to remain within and contribute to the rural economy i.e. training opportunities and apprenticeship schemes that inspire and enable new entrants to consider a career in farming.

Here are just a couple of the young people who have benefitted from the fund:

SAM ARCHER DERBYSHIRE YFC The Training 4 Safety Project encourages young people in rural communities, farming and rural enterprises to gain important qualifications and increases awareness of safety. “The Prince’s Trust awarded Derbyshire Young Farmers’ Club around £40,000 to provide courses in disciplines such as operating sprayers, trailer driving and chainsaw use and safety. Things like trailer training cost such an awful lot of money that young folks simply can’t afford to do it, but you need it to progress. In the past, I’ve had to turn down work because I didn’t have the right qualifications to use a chainsaw. So I’ve been able to pick up a bit of extra work since I did the training. It’s benefitted me greatly, as I wouldn’t have been able to afford the training and assessment days otherwise. It helps a lot! I am very grateful to the Prince’s Fund.”

RACHAEL HEATLEY AND SARAH LIGGETT THE URBAN FARM PROJECT This mobile farm in the North West visits schools to educate children about food and farming and the importance of the countryside. The scheme also visits individuals in residential homes who are unable to get out into the countryside. “It all started at Myerscough College where we were studying for degrees in Animal Behaviour and Welfare,” said Rachael. “We saw a niche in the market as so many schools and nursing homes can no longer take people out due to the huge amount of red tape and money involved. Being awarded a year’s loan of a Land Rover has helped massively. Before, we hired a horsebox which was not really feasible for the long term due to the cost and hassle. We absolutely love taking the animals out and there are some great moments.”



LAND BASED TRAINING IN THE SOUTH short courses covering legislative requirements and skills training including -

chainsaw use agronomy food related pesticides health & safety strimmers business management manual handling

Fork lift

first aid


environment management


Cherwell and Isis 07764 943700 - Hampshire Training Providers Tel/fax 01962 774430 - Kennet and Thames Training Tel/fax 01491 612386 - Mid Kent Training Tel 01233 813688 Fax 01233 813533 - Vale Training Services Ltd Tel/fax 01296 612201 - West Berks and Oxon Training Tel/fax 01488 639981 -

January 2015


Only in Great Britain It was once said that eccentricity in a society is equal to the amount of genius contained within it. So pat yourself on the back, because we must all be proper clever if these facts are anything to go by...

It is thought that the escalator at Camden Town tube station in London runs directly through a medieval mass grave, where scores of plague victims still rest

The shortest war against britain was with Zanzibar in 1896. Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes. Damn straight they did.

Edinburgh’s population doubles during

In 1896 a motorist was fined for speeding for the first time. He was doing 8mph in a 2mph zone

August, swelled by Festival goers

When the Mayor of High Wycombe is elected, they are weighed. At the end of their tenure, they are weighed again to make sure that they haven’t put on weight at the expense of the tax payer. That’s tightening your belt for you!

If you put the Queen’s head upside down when placing a stamp on an envelope, you may be committing treason

People in Victorian Britain who couldn’t afford chimney sweeps dropped live geese down their chimneys instead When Queen Victoria married Albert, she was presented with cheese weighing half a tonne

A man may legally relieve himself on the rear tire of his vehicle, so long as his right hand is on the back of the vehicle

The success of Irn-Bru means that Scotland is the only country in the world where Coca-Cola is not the most popular drink

The Suffolk town of Bury St Edmunds claims the title of Britain’s smallest pub, at just 15ft by 7

In the village of St Cynog in south Wales you can find the oldest tree in the Europe, let alone the UK. This yew tree is estimated to be 5,000 years old. that's older than the oldest pyramids

It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament Henry III kept a live polar bear in the Tower of London. It swam in the Thames (obviously)

The Queen owns all the sturgeons, whales and dolphins in the waters within three miles of the UK



When a man tires of London… He tires of life. Or so the saying goes. Well, we can’t say we completely agree (Samuel Johnson obviously said this before the underground was invented). But we know that it can be tricky to let people living in cities know what’s happening in farming and how their food is produced. Well, if Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, the

mountain shall come to Mohammed. We could be subtle, and try to get messages across to them in a delicate manner and hope that they take interest. Or, the NFU could take a combine harvester and eight young farmers to central London, to take part in the Lord Mayor’s Parade. Guess which one we chose?

JOSHUA FINCHAM “As great as collecting trolleys in Tesco sounds, who wouldn’t want to wake up every day to thousands of acres of rolling lush green fields, cows grazing and the fact that you know you're feeding the world? There is no other job like it. No two farms are the same, so wherever you go you can try something different and learn a new skill. Plus farmers have the ability to fix everything (and I mean everything) with baler twine. If I could set straight one misconception about farming it would be that all farmers are born farmers. It just isn’t true. I was born on a council estate, not a pig, cow or tractor for miles and now I’m head herdsman of a 160-cow dairy farm and living the dream. One life – live it and farm.”

FASCINATING FACT: Joshua once ate 558 Weetabix in 31 days, averaging 18 a day. Why? “Because I really love Weetabix,” he reasoned. (Other wheat-based cereal products are available).


"Being part of the farming industry doesn’t mean you have to be a ‘farmer’. I don’t live on a farm and I don’t farm land every day of my life. But I would say I’m a part of the farming industry. Young people need all the support they can get, and I don’t think any industry compares to how supportive the farming industry is. Every farmer will have your back!"

January 2015


JACK THOMAS “I believe that the farming industry is about to enter its prime. With a rapidly growing world population, the industry has to develop quicker and better than ever. The industry is so diverse there is always something interesting going on, which is why people from all different backgrounds should consider joining the agricultural industry. There are a lot of young people entering farming – that’s why the eight of us representing the future are so key to changing the perception of the general public.”


"I wanted to be involved in an industry that was challenging and diverse, where no two days are the same. Agriculture shapes the landscape we live in – to be part of an industry that it essential to life the way we know it is very exciting. British farmers are the best in the world because they constantly provide us with quality products, which are produced using high standards of welfare and production techniques."

FASCINATING FACT: Beth can make a penguin out of a banana. Nope, we have no idea how either.

Robyn Gibbons

“Research suggests that the farming industry in the UK is one of the top five jobs people can be in, in terms of happiness, and I think this statistic only speaks the truth. Remember you don’t have to be a farm labourer to be in the industry – farming is only the umbrella that covers a huge variety of work."


JESS MILNER "Farming is an industry I have been involved in all my life. I want to join the industry because it is a real passion of mine and I want to make a difference – I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing."

FASCINATING FACT: Jess has been obsessed with sheep since she was little – once she was put down for an afternoon nap, only to be found several minutes later bellowing: “MY SHEEPY NEEDS ME!”

"Speaking from experience, British farmers have been the most supportive, helpful and compassionate people I’ve ever met. Many other industries are dogeat-dog when it comes to climbing the ladder. Farmers? They’ll give you a leg up! I’ve had so much help and guidance getting to where I am today by fellow farmers that I can’t thank them enough. Farming isn’t all about getting muddy and cold – although that does happen... A LOT! To be a successful farmer you need to be a vet, a business manager, a scientist, a mechanic and an environmentalist... plus many other things and you get to be outdoors doing something different every day. If that doesn’t appeal to people then I don’t know what does. We’re not all old, tweed-wearing men with grizzly beards – although I do love tweed! I’m 22, female, have a mild addiction to shoes and makeup and I’m a sheep farmer. Hopefully a young girl, or boy, saw me in the crowd and realised that they too could become a farmer."

Back British Farming

The NFU’s Back British Farming campaign highlights the hundreds of reasons why farming deserves your support. If you, like us, think British farmers deserve more credit for what they do, there are lots of things you can do to show your support. Whether it's signing the Back British Farming charter, liking our Facebook page or making sure you buy British when you go shopping, make sure you stop by to learn more.




Emily Cole visits the Met OfFice to quiz them about the weather

ave you moaned about the weather in the past 24 hours? Of course you have! It’s our favourite pastime. If you’re British, you’ll have definitely said all the following statements in the past year: “I like it hot, but this is too hot.” “It’s too cold to snow.” “IT’S RAINING! RUN, SAVE YOURSELVES!” Apparently us Brit spends four months of our lives whining about the weather. FOUR MONTHS. Well in that case, how many months must farmers lose to weather chat? I’m guessing we’re into the years territory there. You can hardly blame them though – bad weather can mean bad times in the agricultural industry. Think back over the past few years – the floods wrecked businesses and homes in the Somerset Levels. The huge snowdrifts a couple of years ago claimed the lives of thousands of sheep and lambs. Endless rain in the summer can be a nightmare

for arable farmers. I could go on. But I won’t. Instead of filling two pages on why weather is a pain, we decided to quiz the experts and find out what they’re doing to help the future of farming.

MET OFFICE First impressions: the Met Office headquarters are a bit Bond. Very big and very shiny. We’re taken on a quick tour and it’s clear that some seriously cool stuff happens in this building. The first desk we see has three massive screens with pictures of the sun, so that the team can monitor solar flares. The next is home to the aviation team – did you know that every single longhaul flight has to have a weather report otherwise it can’t take off? And the Met Office produces more than half of these for all the flights across the entire world. Actually the organisation does a huge amount that most people have no idea about. Another fascinating fact is that you can call the Met Office at any time, on any day of the year, to ask them any question about the

Don’t expect to see this face on a TV screen near you any time soon

weather – they have a team ready to answer these calls.

MEET SARAH JACKSON If you want to know more about the weather, Sarah’s the person to talk to. She’s head of strategic engagement with Defra at the Met Office and she talks us through what’s being done to help farmers. And the answer to this is: a lot. Work is always going on to improve forecasts – it’s easy to take weather forecasts for granted, but actually they’re much more accurate than they were in the ‘olden days’. Today, a fourday forecast is as accurate as a one-day forecast was in the 1960s. The reason for this is huge investment in satellites.

HOW DO YOU PREDICT WEATHER? No, you don’t just stick your finger in the air and guess. The Met Office receives 106 million observations from

January 2015


#studentfarmer designer John tries his best to convey the forecast with a single hand gesture


MYTHS We clear up a few things, once and for alL

It’s too cold to snow around 190 countries in real time, which are all dealt with automatically, cross-referenced to see how accurate they are and then the whole globe is split into small squares. 55 million small squares, to be exact. In each one, they look at things like temperature, pressure and humidity. And at the end of the process sits a human, who looks at the data arriving from other countries and compares everything, in order to give a forecast.

WHAT’S A SUPER COMPUTER? You may have heard this term bandied around in the news. Well, I can report that I’ve seen it. And it looks like a row of vending machines. But looks aren’t everything – what’s inside really counts here. The super computer will allow the Met Office to update their forecasts more frequently and predict tricky weather more accurately, such as thunderstorms in the summer. “We sometimes know that the atmosphere is in a state that could create thunderstorms,” Sarah said, “but we don’t know where it will happen. That’s why in the summer you might see that we put a weather warning out for rain and there will be yellow covering the whole country on the map. And you’ll hear the forecaster say: “Some of you are going to experience heavy downpours and may have some localised flooding, and others are going to have a lovely day and wonder what all the fuss is about.”

EXTREME WEATHER Over the past ten years, summers have become hotter and drier, and it looks like that will continue.

Try telling this to someone in Siberia. When it gets really cold in Britain the sky tends to be clear. It therefore doesn’t snow – because there are no clouds. So there is a grain of truth to this, but mostly it’s circumstantial codswallop.

However, within that timescale there is a lot of variation too, which makes things tricky to predict. The one thing that Sarah is pretty sure of is that heavy thundery rain will become more of a problem in the summer, so farmers need to be savvy about how much water they use, and collecting water when it does rain.

“A COLD FRONT FROM THE EAST” Chat over, which means it’s time for us to have a go. Weather forecasters make it look easy – I can assure you, that being a weatherman/ woman is a proper skill. First of all, contrary to popular belief, these people aren’t selected for their good looks – they all have degrees (all the kinds too, they don’t just stop at a BA) and they’re all trained meteorologists. I am not a trained meteorologist. And my degree in English Literature is literally no use at all. I’m not a natural, I think it’s fair to say – pointing at the map with a jabbing finger and repeatedly saying “WEATHER” just doesn’t cut the mustard. I have a newfound respect for the forecasters. And I actually have a newfound respect for the Met Office in general – this building is full of very intelligent people, who are working very hard to help farmers out. Weather forecasts will only improve – which great news for all you lot.

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning Actually, this one is true. ‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight’ is because weather systems in the UK arrive from the west, and that means that fair weather is headed towards you. ‘Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning’ means that a high pressure weather system has already moved east, meaning good weather has passed, most likely making way for wet and windy conditions.

St Swithun’s Day This is the myth that whatever the weather is like on 15 July will continue for the next 40 days and nights. There’s a grain of truth to this, as the Jet Stream does play a part in predicting long-range forecasts at this time of year. However, it’s not exactly a reliable omen. In fact, since records began there has been no occurrence of rainfall for that prolonged a period of time.

Rain before seven, fine by eleven This refers to the fact that weather systems tend to be variable, however again it’s not massively reliable. Our advice? Take a brolly with you, just in case.



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January 2015


A wılD rEvolution Two brothers are determined to prove you don’t have to don a tweed jacket to love a bit of venison, or own a shotgun to munch on partridge. Meet WilL and Calum who are adDing a game twist on good, British grub

IT kInd of juSt HapPenEd. We started in 2010. We knew quite a bit about game from working with it and we both wanted to have a go at producing and selling good British game and quality food. Since then we’ve evolved and grown without stating where we want to be in five years or so. You’ve got to be eager to try different things. So we did farmers markets and catering, then we opened the restaurant Eat Wild in May last year.

TWeeD, GunS aNd lanD ROveRs? no. Everyone that has anything to do with game or shooting has this massive stereotype and stigma attached to them. We’ve tried to show game in a different light and people seem to like it and see it as refreshing.

WE wAnt to prOve evEryOne wrOng. We’re trying to prove the stereotype wrong that you have to be a certain type of person to eat game. People think you have to fit in with the lifestyle, which is annoying. You don’t. We really enjoy teaching people about it if they ask – it’s massively important to learn about where your food comes from. You don’t have to be a country bumpkin to love good, honest food.

The #sTudEntFarMer buRgeR! We like to think we know a thing or two about a good burger – we should do, we’ve eaten enough. So imagine our delight when we heard one was going to be named after us! The masterpiece in question is a 6oz wild venison burger served with sliced beef tomato, watercress and red stripe battered onion rings balanced in a Hobbs House brioche bun. If you’re in Cirencester, make sure you pop in and look out for it on the specials board!

WE’rE aLl GooD wIth ouR hAndS. Everyone likes to think they’re Jamie Oliver and can cook, and one day someone, famous or otherwise, will crack the game thing and it’ll be everywhere. We like to think we’ve got a good chance at cracking it too. There can be a really blinkered approach to game and people can continue cooking it how they’ve always done for years. But you don’t have to do that – that’s the beauty of it. Who cares if you want to make duck pasta or a venison burger?

ENtrY lEveL? Duck and venison tend to be the easiest meats for people to try first. But you’ve got to present it in a way that’s comfortable, like in a burger. A burger is something that you see everyday – it’s not woodcock on toast with their guts spewing everywhere. Rabbit is a party pooper. It’s like marmite, you either love it or hate it because most people see them as pets.

WE dOn’T dO aNy Of ThaT fAncY sTufF. It’s important to go back to basics. It’s good honest food. We don’t hide behind fancy presentation, or try cooking game three ways on one plate. You know what it is, look at it and understand it. It’s all about being transparent and honest. Our audience, which is aged 18-30, are important, and people often forget about that age group. They’re going to be the ones with the buying power years down the line. Don’t forget them.

Earl’s Hort

Hoe-land Park



Snout Kensington


Slurry Square

Knightsmidge Gloucester Old Spot Road

Hyde Pork Corner

Pond Street

Marble Acre

Lancaster Five Bar Gate High Street Hessington

Notting Hill Goat

Meat On The Bone



Hedgeware Road



St. James’s Pork

Charing Cross Compliance

Pigadilly Circus

Grain Park

Oxfoot Circus

Goose Street

Weeding Street

Great Porkland Eweston Street

Regent’s Pork

Bacon Street


Farm House



Ten Bulls


St. Pail’s

Moor Farm Gate



Gas Gun Street

Black Pudding

Red Leicester Square

Combine Garden

Charolais Lane



Totten-ham Court Road

Rooster Square

Eweston Square

King’s Cross St. Parsnip

Land-on Bridge

Moomooment Tractor Hill


Livestock Street

Oat Street

Be outstanding in your field!

Known for its landbased expertise, there is plenty for every young farmer to experience at Wiltshire College Lackham. Lackham estate is comprised of 688 hectares of land in the middle of the Wiltshire countryside, and includes a deer park, exotic animal centre and three working farms. Commercial enterprises include dairy and beef production, sheep rearing, pig breeding and organic crops. From entry level to degree, courses at Wiltshire College Lackham include: • Agriculture • Agricultural Engineering • Animal Care, Science & Management • Countryside Management • Farm Mechanisation • Game & Wildlife Management • Horticulture & Floristry • Horse & Equine Studies

#STUDENTFARMER - January 2015  

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

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