The Farmers Apprentice is a unique opportunity for young people aged 18-25 who have their hearts set on a career in agriculture, with a £10,000 prize on offer to kick-start the overall winner’s farming ambitions.
As we count down to bootcamp (15-20 July), we catch up with the contestants to find out how they’re preparing for a week that could change their lives.
What is Farmers Apprentice?
Farmers Apprentice is a unique competition that puts 10 young people through a week-long bootcamp seeing them tackle a range of tasks.
At the end, one will be crowned Farmers Weekly Farmers Apprentice 2018, winning £10,000 to get a foothold on the farming ladder.
Mitchell Park, 22
I’m hoping the time I spent in Australia on my year out will give me an edge over the other contestants.
It opened my eyes to another perspective – particularly when it comes to grassland management and cost-cutting.
I arrived just after a sudden milk price collapse, so I learned all about the importance of looking at every single item in a bid to save money.
If scrambler bikes were cheaper to run than quads, for example, the farmers got scramblers.
Using technology is a good way to cut costs and I hope my Agricultural Technology degree will be a good grounding for both Farmers Apprentice and for my career. I love gizmos and gadgets, but only if they can be put to practical use. They have to save you money.
One item you’ll definitely take to bootcamp? My wellies, because I’m not afraid to get stuck in.
Libby Ramsden, 18
I’ve never been one to sit back or follow the crowd and have always been up for a challenge. Whether it’s doing a Duke of Edinburgh Award or helping out at a stables when I was 11, I’ll volunteer for anything and very much intend to do this at bootcamp.
I always listen to other people, but if I have something on my mind, I’ll always say it – so I’m certainly going to share my opinions.
I’m quite independent. I moved away from home when I was 16 because I could study a pre-veterinary BTEC alongside my A-levels at Hartpury, but have decided training to become a vet’s not for me.
There’s too much lab work and I love being outdoors.
We all make the occasional wrong decision in life, right? I’ve learned what’s important is how you react to them.
One item you’ll definitely take to bootcamp? My lucky JCB baseball cap.
Abbie Bruni, 25
I’ve done a lot of different jobs alongside studying to be a vet, so I’m hoping that having a slightly different perspective will help me.
I’m not someone who always needs to be at the front of a group and I sometimes like to take a step back and take in a situation before speaking my mind.
Other times, though, I’m happy being in charge – like when I was working as cabin crew with BA and a passenger had a heart attack. I just dealt with it.
I try to make the most of every opportunity, enjoy being busy and am very happy to burn the candle at both ends. I’ve got a feeling the last one might come in useful at bootcamp.
One item you’ll definitely take to bootcamp? Common sense. It’s easy to leave this behind when you get excited and nervous.
Harry Madin, 21
My dream bootcamp task would be herding sheep with a dog because I’m training a dog at the moment (actually, she’s the one teaching me). I feel like I’ve come a long way over the past few years, but I’ve still got a lot to learn so bootcamp will be another step towards my dream of being a shepherd.
The week will be a chance to test what I know, apply what I’ve learned and show me where I need to learn more. I’m reasonably confident, but it can take me a while to find my place when I’m in a new group.
I need to get to know people. That said, I am a competitive person – growing up with two brothers definitely makes you competitive.
One item you’ll definitely take to bootcamp? My laptop, because I’ve got a feeling I’m going to need to do a lot of research while I’m there.
Sam Coote, 22
I’m up for whatever they throw at us. I’ve always been someone who likes a challenge – I’ve just applied for a visa to go travelling to New Zealand so that’ll be another new experience.
I come from a family of hard workers and have never been afraid of hard graft so this will come in useful.
I’m also going to seize it as an opportunity to make new contacts.
I’m sure I’ll get on with the other contestants – generally, the only people who frustrate me in life are those who don’t pull their weight.
I’m determined to enjoy the week and getting selected for bootcamp is an achievement in itself, but I’d love to win so I’m going to really push myself. You don’t get anywhere in life if you stand still.
One item you’ll definitely take to bootcamp? My bait box – because I can’t work on an empty stomach.
Lauren Arndt, 21
I’ve been watching the Apprentice episodes from previous years and I’m excited about the livestock tasks as I grew up on a beef and sheep farm, but I’m not looking forward to the business presentations.
I’m OK once I get over the nerves and control the adrenaline, but find them a bit daunting, even though I’ve done quite a few. I’ll be happy to volunteer to lead tasks – I learned a lot about organisation when I was president of the Aberystwyth Uni Agriculture Society.
I’m someone who wants to get things done. I can’t bear sitting in meetings that feel like they’re taking all day – life’s too short.
I’m competitive so really want to do well in this competition. In fact, I’ve decided to go to next year’s graduation ceremony rather than this year’s because it would have clashed with bootcamp!
One item you’ll definitely take to bootcamp? My penknife because it’s so useful.
Ashley Gallagher, 23
The other contestants seem like a great bunch, but I’ve definitely got some tough competition. I expect they’ll approach it in the way I plan to – by really entering into the spirit of it.
Bootcamp will put me out of my comfort zone and test me, and I want to see how I respond in that situation.
I’ve always said by the time I’m 25 I’d like to be farming in my own right and taking part in the Farmers Apprentice is another stepping stone in that direction.
There’s always an element of luck in any competition, but I’m going to give it my best shot. Winning’s not everything in life – but it often helps!
One item you’ll definitely take to bootcamp? I’d like to take my dogs because they go everywhere I do – although I don’t imagine FW will want them at Harper.
Benjamin Theaker, 23
I don’t come from a farming background, but that’s not going to hold me back. If need be, I’ll get up earlier than anybody else and go to bed later than anybody else.
My approach at bootcamp will be the same as in life – I set goals for myself and break jobs down into small steps. As my dad once said: If you’re going to build a wall, you approach it by laying one brick at a time, as perfectly as you can.
I’m pretty coolheaded so won’t freak out at being asked to do something I haven’t done before.
I’m most looking forward to any mechanical challenges. My knowledge here is largely self-taught – it started as a result of not wanting to spend money getting old cars fixed at a garage.
One item you’ll definitely take to bootcamp? A pair of steel-toed boots, because you can’t do a decent day’s graft without the right footwear.
Tayla Harding, 19
I’m hoping we have a selling task as I love trying to persuade people to buy things.
I think I’ve got a way with words – a trait that comes from my father who’s the most articulate person you could ever meet.
I’m not looking forward to machinery-related tasks. It’s nothing to do with being female – and I’m really hoping one of the other girls absolutely smashes those tasks to help break down the stereotypes – but it’s not my main interest.
It’ll be great to spend the week at Harper – it’s a brilliant university, but there’s lots of rivalry between Ciren, where I’m studying, and Harper, so I’ve been getting teased a lot about going there.
One item you’ll definitely take to bootcamp? My smile, because there’ll be moments when I’ll want to shout or cry, but when you smile it makes you feel so much better and can diffuse potentially fraught situations.
Tess Gosney, 19
There’s not really that much preparation we can do for bootcamp. It’s not like studying for an exam. The judges won’t be looking for people who already know everything, they’ll be looking for people who have potential – and that’s what I aim to show them I have.
I’m looking forward to tasks that involve interaction with the public, as I’ve got experience of the hospitality sector.
I’d read about the Apprentice in previous years and the competitive side in me always thought: I’d be good at that. All the contestants seem friendly, but we’re all in it to win it.
I can have a laugh, but if a job needs doing, I like to get it done. I can’t bear ditherers!
One item you’ll definitely take to bootcamp? I’m not sure if they’ll let me take it – but what about my Fendt 1050?
Follow the competition
Farmers Weekly works with partners from across the agricultural industry to deliver a bootcamp that exposes the apprentices to some of the best in technical equipment and expertise reflecting the real challenges UK farmers face.