From pumpkins to potato vodka – Top line-up of speakers at New Entrants to Farming Gathering

Farming Gathering
Rebecca McEwen, Arnprior Pumpkins (photo by Julie Howden)

From pumpkins and red deer to potato vodka and New Zealand dairy cows, new or aspiring farmers will learn about the diverse range of options open to them at this year’s New Entrants to Farming Gathering.

The free annual event, which is being held at the BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on Tuesday 26 February, will feature presentations from a range of speakers, including Rebecca McEwen, who gave up a career in film and TV to run Arnprior Pumpkins on her husband’s family farm.

Organised under the Scottish Government’s Farm Advisory Service (FAS) programme, and delivered by specialists from SAC Consulting – part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the gathering is aimed at people who have just joined the industry or are planning to do so, and is open to all with an interest in the future of Scottish agriculture.

The event will highlight opportunities within farming and outline the kind of skills needed to succeed in the sector with speakers including new entrants, those who have found alternative routes into the industry and landowners and farmers running joint ventures.

Rebecca and her husband Duncan – a former Agriculture student at the college –  started to think about diversification on their beef, sheep and arable farm in Arnprior, West Stirlingshire, after becoming a Forth Valley monitor farm run by SRUC in 2012.

This led to them opening Arnprior Pumpkins – where people can come and choose their own pumpkin ahead of Hallowe’en – as well as opportunities to ‘dig your own tatties’, ‘pull your own turnips’ and a kale maze.

Other speakers include Richard Rogers – winner of the 2018 British Grassland Society (BGS) Grassland Farmer of the Year competition – and Gethin Jones, who will talk about their joint venture working with New Zealand-style dairy herds; Andrew Marchant, who set up a beef, sheep and deer farm business with his wife in 2012, and has since diversified by establishing a red deer enterprise in partnership with Buccleuch; and Graeme Jarron, who will talk about his business distilling vodka from potatoes.

The opening address will be given by Penny Montgomerie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC).

Rebecca McEwen, who grew up on a beef and sheep farm in Galloway, said: “Being a monitor farm was a really exciting, yet daunting chapter of our lives and made us dissect the business. Arnprior Pumpkins has led on to Arnprior Lambing, and we are now planning to open Arnprior Swimming and Pods this summer.

“I hope our story will inspire people looking to move into the farming industry or try something different.”
Richard Rogers said: “Share farming fits well with our spring calving dairy model. Our arrangement with Geth (Gethin Jones) has allowed us to expand our enterprise and grow the business while ensuring that he has a real interest in the ongoing success of the herd. It’s a win-win situation.”
SAC Consulting’s Kirsten Williams, who will chair the event, said: “We have an excellent line-up of speakers, including those who have entered the industry through joint ventures, diversified to create more resilience and add value, as well as industry experts. The event is open to all, with the aim to inform and inspire.”

To see the full programme and to book a place, visit www.fas.scot

Alternatively, please call Val Angus on 01835 823 322 or email val.angus@sac.co.uk

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