Will girl power drive the future of British farming? Hartpury’s bumper crop of new female farmers think sow!

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Girls are flocking to farming at Hartpury in their droves with this autumn reaping a record harvest of female land-based students.

With Hartpury again emerging as the top specialist land-based college in the latest Department for Education league tables for its Diploma courses and 100% of the College's Agriculture students going on to secure employment in recent years, it’s no surprise that so many young people choose Hartpury to further their farming knowledge.

And, increasingly, girls are investing their future in farming and looking to open the door to their dream career in the agricultural industry. This September, 18% of the new Agriculture intake at Hartpury College was female, compared to 9% in September 2015, meaning Hartpury now has nearly 60 female Agriculture students.

Tilly Heron, 16, has just started the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture, having grown up on her family’s farm of around 1000 dairy cows - Taynton Court Farm - near Gloucester.

She said: “Ever since I can remember, I’ve been involved in the day to day work of our farm. I work there on weekends and go down most nights; it’s a great feeling when you see your hard work pay off and your livestock thriving.

“I’ve chosen farming because I love animals and I love the outdoor life. I could never do a job sitting behind a desk. Farming has traditionally been very male-orientated but I think there’s an exciting future for girls in the industry. My best friend came here with me and there’s lots of girls on my course.

“I wanted to come and study at Hartpury so I could learn about other aspects of farming outside of dairy, like working with the sheep and veal calves, to broaden my mind and my experience.

“We’ve had students from Hartpury on work experience at our family farm and they have said such good things about it. It’s certainly living up to my expectations so far. There’s so many practical opportunities and it’s so much better than school! “I’m really excited about the year I’ll spend out in the industry as part of my course. I’ll be able to learn more farming best practice and bring that back to boost my own family farm.”

Niamh Chapman, 18, from Kenfig Hill, near Bridgend in South Wales, is hoping to secure a career in farm finance or as a land agent when she completes her Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture.

She said: “I don’t actually come from a farm but my family do have a smallholding and I’ve always worked on my nan’s friend’s farm, which has around 30 cows and 120 sheep. From the age of around 8 or 9, I started helping out with feeding the new lambs and that’s where my passion for farming stems from.

“I want to work in farm finance. I could have stayed at school, studied Maths A Level and gone into accountancy but I wanted to improve my farming knowledge and practical skills as well as get a grounding in the farm business side. The course at Hartpury was perfect for that.

“I did my year out in industry on two farms in South Wales. One was a sheep and beef farm, where I got involved with lambing, sheep shearing and wool rolling, but I also worked on a dairy farm, feeding the calves, de-horning, foot trimming and TB testing.

“There’s quite a few female land agents now and I think the number will continue to grow. The idea of getting out and about to different farms and helping them to improve and be more profitable really appeals to me, and my time at Hartpury means I’ll have the knowledge of the industry that I need.”

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