Watching Farmers Apprentice the other night – about the only decent thing worth watching on Sky I might add – took me back to my youth and how much I wish I’d gone to study agriculture at college, particularly as I have two fantastic colleges on my doorstep in Askham Bryan and Bishop Burton.
But it wasn’t to be – careers advisors and teachers deemed farming to be a “waste of my education” and so encouraged me to choose a different path, which led me to study Sports Science at uni, something I was interested in but not passionate about. So it came as no surprise when I dropped out three months into my degree and headed back to Australia where I’d spent my gap year farming.
These youngsters on the TV, though, were fantastic and I think helped show that despite public perception that all farmers wear tweed caps, with holes in their clothing, straw in their hair, and pitchfork in hand, this is not the case. There is a lot more to farming than shovelling you know what.
Presenting their business plans in front of a panel showed just how savvy farmers need to be in order to survive. The people we need in the industry are skilled, intelligent individuals, not just the Dingles of Emmerdale.
So, having spent about six years of my life shuttling between Australia and the UK and with a stint at tennis coaching, I’m not sure my careers advisors would say my education had been particularly well spent. What I do know is that doing what I am doing now, in farming, I am lucky that I had the education that I did, but can’t help but feel my time could have been better spent if I’d have ignored those advisors and followed the path that is clearly in my blood.
Seeing the opportunities in the agricultural sector now, which are only going to become more abundant as population grows and the need for food increases, I’m pretty sure those careers advisors need to be changing tack – in fact I’d go as far as to say that it is their education and knowledge that needs evaluating.
Anna Longthorp runs Anna’s Happy Trotters, a pork wholesale business supplying butchers, restaurants and farm shops with free-range pork from her family’s 2,100 breeding sows