New horticulture and dairy courses set to launch in Cumbria

A new land-based training provider will launch its first courses as part of efforts to rebuild agriculture and horticulture education in Cumbria after the closure of Newton Rigg College.

Community organisation Newton Rigg Ltd (NRL) is developing courses as part of its NR Training initiative that will start from September this year, with classes in horticulture and advanced dairy management now open to applicants.

A partnership with Lowther Estate will see the NR Training School of Horticulture run courses at Lowther Castle, where students will help manage the 52ha of gardens and be part of the 20-year plan to restore them.

See also: Land-based educational charity to buy Newton Rigg farm

The horticulture diploma and certificate courses will be led by Shelagh Todd, formerly head of horticulture, forestry and floristry at Newton Rigg Campus.

Lyn Brunetti (left) Louise Stoddart and Shelagh Todd

Lyn Brunetti (left) Louise Stoddart and Shelagh Todd will teach horticulture students © NRL

The advanced dairy management course will be run by independent dairy consultant James Webster.

The location of the course is yet to be confirmed and has been designed to support existing and aspiring dairy herd managers.

The dairy course is the first of a series of courses planned as part of NR Training’s Rural Business School.

The six modules are: cow nutrition, diet formulation and generating margins; heifer rearing and transition cow management; finance, benchmarking and milk contracts; forage management; fertility, mastitis, lameness and Johne’s; and business development and management.


Jane Sullivan, educational consultant and director of Newton Rigg College from 2015-18, has played a key role in creating NR Training along with NRL director Andrew Counsell, former principal of Duchy College.

Dr Sullivan said: “The NR Training initiative has been in development for some time and we are now delighted to offer our first courses starting this September.”

NRL was established to protect the future of land-based education in Cumbria following the closure of Newton Rigg College.

NRL director Chris Crewdson said: “With the launch of NR Training, we are on the path to a sustainable solution for Cumbria and we are so grateful to the individuals and organisations who have supported us financially and with their advice and expertise.

“This is a community effort and we believe our county will look back with pride in future.”

Martin Ogle, general manager and head gardener of Lowther Castle, said:

“I trained at Newton Rigg College, as did most of my team, so it is fitting that we now collaborate together to secure a future for horticulture education in Cumbria, while continuing our long-term efforts to reimagine the gardens at Lowther Castle.”