Writtle University College hosted young people from around the UK earlier this month, allowing those with no farming experience to learn about careers in agriculture.
The College in Essex provided the 16-18 year olds with an activity-packed schedule, including sheep herding and lamb handling at its working farm.
16-year-old Jordan said: “It was great to get out of my comfort zone and experience something that I wouldn’t have before. My favourite part was getting in the barn with the pigs and cuddling the piglets.”
The exciting initiative, held on March 31 to April 2, 2023, is called ‘New Faces For Farming’ and was launched by Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, founder of ‘The Black Farmer’ brand, in partnership with the University College.
Wilfred, who was awarded an MBE for Services to Farming in 2020, says: “As a young boy growing up in an inner-city area, I found it impossible to find opportunities to develop my interest in farming. Fifty years on, many young people still do not know where to go to learn more.This weekend was the first step in bringing about much needed change.”
“It is my mission to encourage more youth and diversity into farming and agriculture, so to be able to work with Writtle University College on these initiatives is tremendously exciting.”
The weekend featured talks by industry experts, from academics to business owners. The young people also met Wilfred in person, and learnt how he fulfilled his dream to become a farmer.
“The experience on the farm and off the farm was just amazing,” said 17-year-old Manjinder. “I developed quite a lot of skills such as communication, confidence and critical thinking.”
The New Faces For Farming scheme offers young people from backgrounds that are under-represented within agriculture the chance to gain hands-on experience.
The residential weekend was the first stage of the New Faces For Farming programme. The young people can look forward to mentorship from sector experts.
Katy Warkup, group learning and development manager at Cranswick Plc. said: “Cranswick were delighted to be invited to support the New Faces for Farming initiative. As a proud British pig and poultry producer, we are passionate about ensuring that young people are aware of the varied careers that are available throughout the supply chain and encouraging more diverse talent into the food and farming industry. We look forward to working with the initiative by supporting the young people through mentoring relationships and wish them all the best of luck following the programme”.
Writtle University College’s widening outreach and participation officer, Amy Furney, said: “Thank you to everyone involved with this fantastic, fun-filled weekend. It has been a collaborative effort across the institution and externally. We were so excited to meet and work with the farmers of the future and look forward to our next steps.”