On Thursday 12 May, the Jersey Royal Company’s Peacock Farm in Trinity was launched as a ‘LEAF demonstration farm’.
LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) ‘works to inspire and enable sustainable farming that is prosperous, enriches the environment and engages local communities.’ LEAF is working very closely with Jersey’s agricultural sector.
Their website, https://leaf.eco contains more information about them.
LEAF ‘Open Farm Sundays’ have become a regular annual event in the UK. In the piece below, LEAF Open Farm Sunday host, John Scott from Fearn Farm, Invernesshire, shares his views on the issues around employment in agriculture and highlights why he believes taking part in LEAF events is the future way to inspire the industry’s new workforce:
‘Agriculture is facing an employment crisis, and yet I can’t help wondering if the sector is too reliant on others to resolve it, rather than doing something direct.
At Fearn Farm we have a strong team of young and experienced people, spanning many generations. We value their skills, ideas and enthusiasm, and see them very much helping shape the future of our business, not just working in it. We pay fairly, provide accommodation, encourage training and mentoring and support them to participate in competitions and writing features to raise their own profile. In fact just a few months ago, our Farm Administrator, Emily Mosley won the AgriScot Business Skills competition and a cash prize of £1000.
So, I am starting to wonder why we currently have vacancies that we are struggling to fill, and after speaking to some fellow farmers, I am realising I am not the only one. Businesses all across the UK are finding it difficult to recruit new staff, despite offering an exciting package and career development prospects.
Many of our agricultural bodies and media have run very successful campaigns promoting the wide range of careers available, and that you don’t need to be from a farming background to enjoy the sector. But we are speaking in our own echo chamber, targeting the same people that are already working or living in farming.
We need to talk more outside of the sector, and we need to start doing it ourselves… which also means pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. Initiatives such as school visits and welcoming organised groups to the farm are excellent, and certainly should be encouraged, but if we want to change the perception and attract new blood, we need to encourage children and their parents to visit our farms, together. They need to see and hear what happens on-farm, ask their questions and fundamentally go away inspired, and as excited as we are by our industry, knowing that their parents will then be continuing those conversations with them at home.
After opening our holiday cottage diversification business, I have recently realised how varied the perception is about farming, and that we have to be bold to change this. We need to work together and we need to be more open and transparent. Events such as Open Farm Sunday, where there is really good practical support from the initiative organisers LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), have got to be the future way we inspire our new workforce. If just one child from every farm opening this year across Britain takes up a career in agriculture in 10 years’ time, that is hundreds of new recruits.
We will be hosting LEAF Open Farm Sunday this year because it helps us to share our story with confidence and reminds us why we do what we do. LEAF makes it easy with free materials to share with visitors, guidance on how to run the event and the flexibility to run it in a way we feel comfortable with, and for, the number of visitors we want to welcome.
We have to do more, we can’t rely on others to tell our farming story and we need to do it together.’