Farming: Building diversity with New Faces for Farming campaign

Wilfred Emmanuel-JonesWilfred Emmanuel-Jones
Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones
Huge strides have been taken in recent years to rid farming of its reputation as one of the last bastions of male chauvinism, with several government-backed schemes set up to ensure that women receive the recognition and access to opportunities they deserve in the agricultural sector.

However, a new UK-wide initiative hopes to further diversify the face of farming and offer youngsters from different ethnic backgrounds who might never have considered a role in agriculture an opportunity to sample a taster session of farm life.

One of the UK’s largest land-based educational establishments, Writtle University College (WUC) in England, has teamed up with Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones who trades his produce under The Black Farmer label to tackle the 'drought in diversity' within the food, farming and agricultural industries under the ‘New Faces for Farming campaign’.

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“Today we begin a nationwide search to find the future faces of farming,” said Emmanuel-Jones. “The search is going to take place outside of traditional farming circles to encourage young people from diverse backgrounds to consider farming as a career."

He said that speaking from personal experience, when he had been growing up in the inner city with an interest in farming, it had been impossible to find the opportunity to develop this interest:

“Fifty years on nothing has changed. Many young people interested in food, farming and agriculture do not know where to go to explore and develop their interest. This scheme is the first step in bringing about much needed change."

Emannuel-Jones was awarded an MBE for Services to Farming in 2020.

"It is my mission to encourage more youth and diversity into farming and agriculture, so to be able to work with Writtle University College on these initiatives is tremendously exciting," he said.

It wasn’t until he reached the age of 40, that he managed to fulfil his life-long dream when he purchased a small farm on the Devon/Cornwall border, the inspiration for his The Black Farmer brand. His tagline "without frontiers" encapsulates his drive to ensure more people have the chance to live and work in rural areas.

The initiative sees an all-expenses-paid residential weekend on offer at the University College's countryside campus on 7-9 October and will offer teenagers, aged 16-18, a taste of farm life.

“In 2020, agriculture had a total income of over £4 billion in the UK alone. Yet, it's known as one of the country's least diverse industries,” said the college’s vice chancellor, Professor Tim Middleton. He added that a recent Sky News report had stated that, excluding seasonal workers, more than 97 per cent of people employed in agriculture, forestry and fisheries were white.

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'New Faces For Farming' will offer young people from a wide range of backgrounds an opportunity to learn about careers in this exciting sector. Participants will visit WUC's working farm and experience a weekend of socialising and life on a university campus,” said Middleton who added:.

Agriculture should be a sector that welcomes everyone and our residential weekend marks the first of a series of measures aimed at widening access to this rewarding industry.”

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