Joe and Rachel Horler, Maundrils Farm who were the 2013 Dairy Employer Award Winners, explain how they help and encourage young people into the dairy industry here in Somerset.
“Maundrils is an organic dairy farm near the Bridgwater estuary, milking pedigree organic Holstein /Friesians and Jerseys. We have hosted primary school visits since 2006, following completion of a short CEVAS course ‘hosting educational farm visits’ and have links with West and East Huntspill schools, West Huntspill pupils only have to walk 200 yards to the farm entrance. We have based school visits on current curriculum topics and liaise with the teachers when planning a visit.
Our first Open farm Sunday event was held in 2009 – this year’s saw 160 visitors – we were fortunate to have a great team of helpers – farmers, vets, advisors, to help with these events.
We have also school and college work experience students. One, who came for 2 weeks experience in 2012, has returned to help us after finishing a course at Bridgwater college and has gone on to participate in a ‘Better Herdspersons course’ continuing to build on knowledge and skills learnt to date.
It takes time to support a young person but it is very rewarding when they learn and gain confidence to work independently and it is evident they are enjoying the work.
We have attended school career evenings and given talks to local groups inc this year the local St John’s ambulance cadets.
This year we were invited to take part in Burnham on Sea Food and Drink festival as a taster session – promoting dairy farming to a wider audience, using slides and props and enthusiasm for what we do.
Throughout 2011 we submitted a monthly column to the local parish magazine ‘ Farming on the Footpath’, each month covered a different topic such as care of calves, silage making, milk recording.
More recently, to help promote dairy farming, we have put up a blackboard/ messageboard next to the footpath which runs through the farm yard and weekly farm news updates are posted for walkers to read. Also,with the help from our youngest son, we launched a facebook page for Maundrils. Please LIKE it to see what we post on the page.”