Hartpury students immersed themselves in everything British, from artisan baking and local meats and cheeses to blackcurrant farms and eating wild, as part of National Food Week.
Hartpury already sources many local products for its on-site restaurant ‘Graze’, including meat from Ben Creese butchers in Staunton and eggs and milk from Hartpury Post Office, while all vegetables also come from British suppliers.
This week (beginning November 23rd) saw Hartpury celebrate the best of British food and agriculture as students got the opportunity to interact with local food suppliers and experts as well as going off site on a range of educational visits.
Hartpury’s own ‘farmers market’ created a real buzz around campus on Tuesday, November 24th with students able to sample local produce and talk with representatives including Cerney Cheese and the Happy Goat company – a business set up by two former Hartpury students, Tom Mitchell and Amy Parry, to produce happily reared, high quality goat meat. They served up goat burgers, sausage and a tasty tagine.
Harry Hanse, 16, Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture, from Somerset: “It has been really interesting talking to the local businesses about their products and getting the chance to try the meat and cheese. I had a long chat with the cider producer too, but unfortunately we were too young to try that!”
Colin Downey, the National Farmers Union’s Gloucestershire adviser, also paid Hartpury a visit to enjoy a ‘local’ lunch in Graze before a group of around 60 students enjoy a ‘Heritage Grain’ presentation.
Artisan bread maker, Dede Liss, who is based at Hart’s Barn Cookery School, near Longhope, talked to the students about the history of wheat and how it has changed in genetics, domestication and in the environment. Students even got the chance to taste some of her heritage baking.
Otto Williams, 17, Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture, from Staffordshire, said: “It’s been great finding out more about where our food comes from, especially as it meant eating a locally sourced English breakfast in Graze this morning! I think it’s great that the college has organised this week to celebrate and support British food and farming, which is really important to us as Agriculture students. It’s a big focus of our course.”
Students also spent time on trips all over the UK to celebrate British food and farming to mark National Food Week. These included a visit to ‘Eat Wild’ – a restaurant in Cirencester owned by former student Calum Thompson and his brother.
Here, they listened to a talk with a moor to folk angle (a slightly different take on field to fork!) and watched a cookery demo. The lucky students also enjoyed lunch with a difference, including venison chilli and pheasant popcorn!
Hartpury’s Farm Mechanisation and Land-based Technology visitied the JCB factory, Landrover headquarters and Morgan Cars during the week, while groups of Agriculture students went to Ross-on-Wye lamb sales, Cotswold Brewing Company in Bourton-on-the-Water, Weston’s Cider Mill in Herefordshire and Smarts Cheese at Churcham.
With milk produced daily at Hartpury’s campus, Dairy Crest were on hand to talk to students about milk procurement while a Sainsbury’s representative gave students an insight to the college’s relationship with the supermarket and their veal scheme.
The activities are also set to continue well into next week as the college continues to showcase not just the quality of food produced by British farmers but also the value that the national farming industry adds to the environment.
Hartpury’s Head of Agriculture, Janatha Stout, said: “It’s been a really successful week where we’ve been able to set up a range of great opportunities for our students to talk to and learn from people at the heart of our national farming industry, including some really exciting local producers and businesses.
“At Hartpury, we’re proud of our commitment to British food and farming. After all, we’re equipping the future of the UK’s agriculture industry with the practical skills and the knowledge they need to hit the ground running and be at the forefront of the latest developments when they start their working lives.”