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Digging Into Horticulture Study Visits

Digging Into Horticulture Study Visits

Did you know that horticulture is one of the most technologically advanced industries in the UK? Are you interested in growing vegetables? Have you considered a career in agriculture? Maybe you have an allotment? Or volunteer at a community farm?

The Soil Association has a new programme that aims to encourage more young people to consider a career in farming and to support those who have already taken the first steps towards a future in growing.

There is huge potential for the next generation of vegetable growers in the UK. The UK vegetable market is worth £1.3 billion annually while UK grown fruits are worth £695 million. These numbers have been steadily increasing over recent years, creating new opportunities. The potential within organic vegetable and fruit production is also expanding, with organic fruit increasing by 8.9% last year alone.

At a time when long-term employment can be hard to come by with zero hours contracts becoming more common, a career in farming can be a fulfilling option. Demand for farm staff is anticipated to rise in the next decade with 95,000 people predicted to be employed by the agriculture sector by 2020. Almost half the companies who provide farm staff are already actively trying to recruit new entrants into vegetable production as demand for workers is rapidly increasing.

Agriculture can provide a rewarding career. It requires individuals to employ innovative techniques and creative approaches to produce healthy and sustainable food that feeds local communities. Often working in beautiful rural surroundings, the work balances independent determination with collaborative team-work. Most importantly, you can see the product of your labour every single day in the incredible fresh fruit and vegetables that grow.

The Soil Association, working as part of an industry initiative, wants to support new entrants by highlighting the possibilities and opportunities within large-scale horticulture. The goal is to connect new growers with industry professionals and discuss innovative and exciting approaches that are being increasingly adopted.

This project has been made possible by the funding of the Prince’s Countryside Fund and we are grateful for their support. Founded by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2010, the Fund helps to secure a brighter future for the British countryside and those who maintain it.

The goal of the trip is to examine the student’s preconceptions of UK horticulture and provide real-life exposure to the sector. Our aim is to give delegates a better understanding of the day-to-day functioning of large-scale horticulture and allow them to get their hands dirty. We hope that the visit will also provide a forum to better understand the motivations and concerns of new horticultural entrants and create a network of young growers across the UK.

To read the impressions of the first visit by one of our participants, you can read his blog here.

The next study visit will be held on Sept 29th and 30th in Evesham. For the visit, we will collect you from the Worcester train station. There will be a morning grower visit with lunch, followed by an afternoon visit. In the evening, a focus group survey will be conducted before a group dinner. On the second day, there will be a morning grower visit with lunch before you are dropped back at the station. Food, accommodation and travel costs during the visit will be covered. Travel to and from the start point will not be covered.

Please fill in the application and send it to heldridge@soilassociation.org by Sept 8th. Successful candidates will be notified by Sept 15th.