22 October 2014
A young dairy farmer from Wales has put his club on the map by scooping the much-coveted Grassland Farmer of the Future award at the annual British Grassland Society (BGS) awards.
Dafydd Phillips, of Hermon YFC in Pembrokeshire, took home the top prize for devising a business plan for a start-up dairy enterprise.
17 Young Farmers participated in a training day in Somerset last month. They were set the challenge of developing a profitable grass-based farm enterprise on a currently failing holding with the help of a £100,000 investment from a city based private funder.
Dafydd, 20, was presented the award Dr George Fisher of BGS. He was congratulated on demonstrating his knowledge of the industry and clear passion for building a successful future in his chosen career.
On winning the award, Dafydd said: "I am from a farming back round, and am currently working on a dairy farm. I finished school when I was 17, and went straight into work. I entered the competition because I do like a challenge and am ready to try anything that's been given to me. I am very happy that I won, because I did put a lot of effort and time into the piece of work."
22 October 2014
The harvesting efforts of schoolchildren across England and Wales were given the royal seal of approval at the National Harvest Service.
The service at Birmingham Cathedral, was organised by Love British Food and was attended by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall as well as dozens of schoolchildren from across the country.
A dozen schools presented harvest boxes, filled with home-grown produce, to the Duchess, who appeared to be extremely impressed with each of the displays.
Representatives from NFYFC were also in attendance, including chairman Claire Worden, who performed a reading in front of the Duchess. The reading, A Reflection on Farming, was adopted from selected works from American poet and farmer, Wendell Berry:
"Everyone can be a farmer. You can be a farmer. Farming is the production of food and forms the cornerstone of communities. Food in homes, in gardens, allotments, fields forests and in tiny pots lined up on a window ledge.
"At this moment, farming is more important than ever. Farming is a profession of hope."
Volunteers from Lichfield YFC, Polly Baines and Henry Robinson (pictured in the white stockman coats), attended the event to look after the animals on display outside the cathedral.
Polly said: "It was a fabulous opportunity to take part in such a prestigious event. Henry and I had the responsibilities of helping with the animals from Hatton Country World. It was lovely to meet Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall as she stopped to see the animals. It was a lovely day and well attended by a mixture of people from all over the country."
At the end of the service, the harvest boxes were collected by a historic horse-drawn trolley and taken to the Birmingham Central Food Bank for distribution.
The National Harvest Service was first held at Westminster Abbey last year and is being held as part of Love British Food's campaign to rekindle marking the harvest.
21 October 2014
The first episode of the 2014 Farmers Weekly Farmers Apprentice competition – a web TV series, which aims to find the UK’s brightest farming talent, hits the screens of viewers today.
It follows the journey of the 10 finalists, who embarked on a week-long bootcamp earlier this summer, in a bid to win £10,000. The six-part series will air every Tuesday for the next six weeks, with the winner announced on 25th November.
This year’s crop of finalists were put through their paces in a series of five-day farm challenges at Easton and Otley College in July. All the tasks they faced reflected real life aspects of running a modern farming business, from setting up a sub-soiler and getting cows ready for showing, to negotiating wheat prices and putting together a business plan.
And while some of the contestants have farming running through their blood, not all have been born and reared on a farm. There’s no doubt however, all 10 finalists have got a thirst to work and succeed in this diverse industry and who knows, we may have even discovered the next NFU president or future Farmers Weekly award winner in our line-up.
The apprentices' every move will be under the watchful eye of the judging panel, but at the end it all boils down to the judges picking one winner who will walk away with a whopping £10,000. This year the judging panel consists of Farmers Weekly’s editorial director Jane King; Lowther Estates director of farming, Richard Price and Will Gemmill, head of farming at Strutt and Parker.
Commenting on this year’s finalists, Ms King said: “We are very excited about this year’s series, as the 10 finalists really showcase just how dynamic and innovative people in this industry are and we need more people like this.
“When we launched the Farmers Apprentice two years ago, the aim was to showcase the range of skills and careers that exist in agriculture and what it takes to be a modern day farmer. We hope that this series will continue to build on that and open the public’s eyes to the dynamism of this fabulous industry,” she said.
Farmers Apprentice 2014 promises a unique examination of what it takes to succeed in farming- heads, hands and heart in equal measure. So be sure not to miss the laughter, tears, tension, and relationships unfold as the girls and boys go head to head in the first episode of the series. Watch the first episode now at www.farmersapprentice.co.uk.
10 October 2014
I am now in New Zealand working on a 1250 cow dairy farm and really enjoying it. I still use my top 10 tips as they are really important in keeping me safe and well. If you follow them, you will too.
Without a doubt, travelling has its ups and downs but what a fantastic thing to do. It is the experience of all experiences but do you really know what it's like to live away from home, out of a backpack, and not always being certain of where you will end up? Here are my top 10 tips for the travelling young farmer community for their travels in 2015.
1. To travel alone or with a friend? If this is your first ever trip abroad, you may feel safer travelling with a friend. The question is how well do you know your friend? My first ever experience abroad to Australia was with a friend I thought I knew well. It was not until I got out there that I realised we couldn't be more different. He wanted to go clubbing a lot and I wanted to travel and see sights. Too much partying I found was a good way to blow your money fast. Know who you are travelling with well, and make sure you can communicate with each other and that you are good at coming to a compromise. Don't be afraid of going off on your own, it will really help you being independent.
2. To plan or not to plan? That is the question. Having a plan is great if you're doing a round the world trip. If your going to just one country or several in the same continent over a long period, a plan maybe more trouble than it's worth. For example, if the sights you had planned to see are shut, or just are not as good as you thought, or are simply overcrowded, you may want to come another time and move on to see a different attraction. You will find plenty of them. Your plan may become awkward and it can be easier to think for yourself on the spot. However, planning a small step in your trip is handy. For example the first night or week's accommodation.
3. Get updated medically. Countries in continents such as South America, Asia and Africa do not have as higher standards of medical welfare as some first world countries. The last thing you need in a foreign country is to come down with a disease such as rabies, hepatitis or any other life threatening disease. If you have all your jabs up to date you have the best chance of keeping healthy in an environment which might not be so hygienic. It might be costly to get these jabs but you can't put a price on life. I found myself in Alice Springs hospital once when in Australia when working on a farm. I got an infection in my leg and I was in hospital for several days. It wasn't a great experience.
4. Keep your belongings safe. The amount of times my mother used to tell me to keep my belongings safe and to not carry anyone else's luggage, especially through customs, used to leave me eye-rolling. However, it could not be more true and being caught out with an illicit substance, whether it be drugs, plants or food, can be quite scary. Asia is a continent with unforgiving laws on illicit substances and the last place you want to end up is in the hands of the authorities regardless of which country you are in.
5. Keep yourself safe. Making friends when travelling is great. You have fun and you make memories that will last a lifetime, but don't put yourself in a dangerous position. You are far away from people who love and care for you. Put their mind at ease and if you're leaving a location or part of the country to another location, make sure someone knows, and get back in touch with them to let them know you have arrived safely.
6. Pack light! It is very easy to assume what you will need to pack, but don't be hasty. There will be plenty of places to buy clothes along the way, so just pack the bare essentials. Remember you have to carry all this weight to your new home and you might not be living there for very long, so pack smart. When I was packing for New Zealand I planned to take all these James Patterson novels, when I could really only afford to take one book.
7. Buy a really good bag! If your going to be living out of a backpack for the next few months, get the best one. Berghaus do really good backpacks and try and find the largest available. My bag is a 70 litre with a small 15 litre day sack. It's really convenient and the backpack has wheels which is really handy too. It also opens right out like a crocodiles mouth, so you can see exactly where everything is, it has lots of compartments too which is great! If you are going to be carrying your bag a lot, think about your back. You need comfort and convenience and not to spend your first couple of days in bed recovering from back ache.
8. Keep a secret back up bank card! I had a friend who recently lost her bank card abroad and was completely lost without it. She announced it on Facebook which really made her friends worry. If you have a back up card with money already loaded on there, you are safe and this will really pay off when you are in an emergency.
9. Get a trusted friend or relative (preferably a parent) to look after your bank accounts. There is nothing better than the feeling of financial security when travelling. My mother looks after my hard earned pennies and will keep feeding my bank accounts with my money instead of me having to do it. If they are legally in control of your money, you are less likely to spend it all so soon. It's good to have money in other account in which your trusted person can transfer to you as and when.
10. Don't let first impressions decide your travelling fate. If this is your first ever backpacking adventure it may come as quite a shock, from the floods of tears leaving your family at the terminal to settling into your new home. Be patient. It may be scary at first, why wouldn't it? When I first arrived in Western Australia, I couldn't sleep from the night time street cleaners and the big change which kept running through my head. It does take some getting used to but give it a chance and you will never want to leave.
I hope these top 10 tips will keep you safe and happy when all you young farmers are travelling on YFC trips this year.
I wish you all the best on your travels, I know you will have a great time wherever you are in the world.
09 October 2014
A group of young farmers from NFYFC recently visited the British Wool Marketing Board in Bradford as part of the ‘Walk the Wool Chain Study Tour’ to find out more about what happens to their sheep’s wool once it leaves their farms.
Young farmers were given an introduction to the wool industry and the BWMB’s work in shearing training, grading and the auction system by BWMB Producer Communications Manager Gareth Jones. Examples of wool in the different stages of the process were displayed from greasy wool, scoured wool, carded wool as well as yarn, and examples of wool products. A visit to the North of England Wools grading depot in Bradford followed; were students saw wool being graded, packed and tested before being allocated to sale in one of the 18 electronic auctions held annually by the BWMB – they were also able to experience a live auction as British Wool Sale 70 took place during their visit.
In the afternoon, students visited Haworth Scouring Limited to see the next stage of the process where the wool is scoured (washed) before being processed into a number of various woollen based products – from carpets, rugs, soft furnishings to cloth and insulation.
Two of those on the visit were Jessica Morgan and Julie Denby (pictured below) who both entered, and came first and third respectively, the NFYFC’s ‘The Journey of Tweed’ national competition held over the summer. Competitors were asked to design a mood board to demonstrate the processes involved in the production of tweed from the sheep in the field to the fabric of a garment - Jessica, a member from Warwickshire YFC, was successful from a very strong entry of 60 mood boards in winning the competition. The top 5 placed mood boards, including Jessica and Julie’s entries, are currently on display at the BWMB head offices and will also be on display at their annual conference being held in York in November.
Jessica said, “I found the day fascinating - having the opportunity to learn more about the wool chain and understand more about the BWMB’s important role within the sheep sector was both interesting and valuable. It also gave me a much better insight into what happens to the product once it leaves the farm – especially following my research and the work I did on my ‘Journey of Tweed’ mood board earlier in the summer. It was also very special to see all 5 mood boards on display in the BWMB reception area at their head offices - I thank them for all their support’’.
Gareth Jones, Producer Communications Manager, BWMB welcomed the opportunity to work and engage with the next generation of farmers which was vital for the long term sustainability and future of the industry.
“As well as experiencing a live wool auction and learning about the grading of wool, the group were also given a presentation on the promotion and marketing activity of BWMB’s involvement in the Campaign for Wool - a worldwide movement which has been instrumental in increasing awareness of the many varied qualities of wool and wool products which is helping to stimulate increasing demand.”
Mr Jones added, ‘’I congratulate both Jessica, Julie and all those who entered the NFYFC competition on their enthusiasm and interest in wool which can be seen in their mood boards. The BWMB are committed to continuing to work and support the NFYFC and we congratulate them on the good work being done in promoting farming and the countryside and in identifying opportunities for young people to learn and develop’’.
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