From education to employment

Writtle University College promotes diversity in agriculture

Young people from around the UK travelled to Writtle University College in Essex this month for a weekend of lambs, piglets, cows and more.

The event took place from March 31st to April 2nd and offered 16-to-18-year olds with no agricultural experience an opportunity to learn about food and farming.

The group enjoyed an activity-packed schedule, including sheep herding and lamb handling at the University College’s 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 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 New Faces For Farming scheme offers young people from backgrounds that are under-represented within agriculture the chance to gain hands-on experience.

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 Majinder. “I developed quite a lot of skills such as communication, confidence and critical thinking.”

The residential weekend was only the first stage of the New Faces For Farming programme. The young people can look forward to mentorship from sector experts.

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.”

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