New guide to train the real farmers of the future
A new practical guide to help get more people involved in real farming and support farms wanting to train the next generation of farmers and growers, has been published.
The Future Farmers report aims to overcome the challenges that small farmers face when taking on trainees, with a step by step guide on how to get started, and has been published by Sustain, The Organic Growers Alliance and Groundspring Network on behalf of The Landworkers' Alliance.
It shares the experience of small agro-ecological farmers already involved in developing the next generation of future farmers and growers. This includes farms such as Chagfood Community Market Garden, a Community Supported Agriculture farm in Devon that supplies 90 shares from around five acres. Chagfood have been hosting traineeships since 2011 and now typically receive around 30 applicants each year. Ed Hamer, a grower at Chagfood explained the benefits for such a farm:
"[trainees provide] an extra pair of hands at the busiest time of year, but the most significant benefit is to be able to make the most of the resource we have - a commercial and successful CSA - to give training and confidence to a new generation of aspiring growers."
Jonathan Smith, from Scilly Organics, who was involved in writing the document commented
" The traditional routes of training - through colleges and universities have their place, but other shorter and more practical routes have to exist as well. Traineeships and apprenticeships fill this gap very well, offering both greater flexibility and a more affordable route in to farming and growing. This guide offers great practical advice for both potential hosts and trainees, along with examples of how well this model can work. I have used it in my own business very successfully."
Sarah Williams from Sustain, who had previously produced a guide aimed at encouraging urban farming traineeships commented
“We want this guide to be useful for farms and it also reflects some really positive changes that are happening. We know UK farmers are struggling to find new people to take up farming, but there is hope as our younger generations, often in urban areas, are becoming interested in learning real farming skills and getting stuck into improving our food and farming system”.
Groundspring Network is a grassroots network organised by new entrants to connect, support and signpost beginners in agroecological landwork. Groundspring volunteers spread support resources through our new website, social media and a packed quarterly newsletter. Groundspring is the new entrant wing of the Landworkers Alliance, a producer-led organisation and spokesbody of agroecological small scale farms and family farmers that aims to raise awareness about the role of small scale farming and the obstacles they face. www.groundspring.wix.com/groundspring www.landworkersalliance.org.uk
Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. We represent around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local level and hundreds more involved in our projects. We also run a network of food growing spaces in London, including peri-urban farms.
Organic Growers Alliance exists to support, represent and promote the work, livelihood and development of organic horticultural producers throughout the UK. It has a membership of around 250 organic growers, has an active website and forum, and produces a quarterly magazine The Organic Grower. Engaging more young people in organic horticulture is, and has been, a specific aim of the organisation. Many of its members already take apprentices and trainees on their holdings. www.organicgrowersalliance.co.uk
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