Robert Craig of Cairnhead, who operates three dairy farming businesses across the North of England, has offered his support and facilities to the new land-based courses being offered by Kendal College.
Managing around 2,000 acres, Robert operates a grass-based farming system. He has offered the college access to his 1,500-strong herd of dairy cattle for students to gain practical experience in a range of areas from vaccinations to stock management. He said:
"Cumbria is saturated with well-run farms in every sector. This is an untapped resource for those wishing to progress in this industry. Every farm is different, with a different environment, different systems in operation and different livestock to work with."
He added, "Our cows start to calve in the spring and are grass-fed for 270 days in the year. As they calve at the same time, all students will be able to gain individual experiences. They will also gain insights and inspiration from our 20+ members of staff on our farms."
In 2020, Robert was appointed vice-chair of First Milk, owners of the Lake District Creamery at Aspatria. A past Chairman of Cumbria NFU and a 2012 Nuffield Scholar, he is passionate about the farming industry and what it can achieve. Robert and Steve Brandon won the Farmers Weekly Dairy Farmers of the Year in 2014 for unlocking the full potential of Cumbrian grass. He said:
"Our farm at Ainstable supplies Nestle, and we are working with them to promote soil carbon. Having a permanent cover of grass has many environmental benefits over open soil cultivation, and in Cumbria, we can grow grass really well! We are happy to work with the College students on a range of areas, including measuring, monitoring, and allocating grass as well as biodiversity projects. A few years ago, we planted 4,000 trees, and we have gained additional funding to plant hedges and maintain our stone walls. Understanding these opportunities can be overwhelming to farmers, and we can support students to understand them and make the most of them. This new venture will bring business & interested students together to gain the education they need in Cumbria."