Award for student contributing to the future of sustainable farming

Harry Farnsworth, a Masters student in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), has been awarded the Astrotracks Get Into Farming Award 2020, to support the completion of his studies and further his research.

Originally from Northamptonshire, Harry grew up in the countryside and his Dad was a land agent. “I’m not from a farming background but I’ve always had agriculture and nature as a backdrop to my life,” he said.

Before beginning his postgraduate degree Harry was working in the food and beverage industry, mainly breweries, and it was here he began to take an interest in where products were coming from, how they were being used and the impact on the environment. “I became increasingly aware of the waste in our industry from food to spent grains,” he said.

“It took me on a journey of discovery, finding out more and more about where our produce was coming from and where it was ending up. The more I learnt about it the more I was keen to do something about it. All the processes from plastic wrapping for vegetables to malted barley for brewing all had their origins in agriculture. So I decided if I wanted to get to the heart of the issue I needed to learn more about agriculture itself.”

Harry was already aware of the RAU through his Dad who studied for a Masters at the University and also through friends. “The main attraction to me was the course,” he said. “It ticked all the boxes of what I was looking for. Also, if I wanted to learn more about agriculture, I felt that being at the RAU would open up opportunities for me to absorb information from other sources.”

Having previously completed an undergraduate degree some years before in Philosophy, Harry is no stranger to life at university. “I have found it easy to settle in,” he said. “I have also been pleasantly surprised by the wide range of nationalities and experience levels of my other course mates.”

A particular highlight for Harry was a visit earlier this year to Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex with other RAU students to gain an insight into its pioneering rewilding project and conservation efforts.

“Visiting Knepp Estate was brilliant,” said Harry. “What I have enjoyed the most about the course is being able to submerge myself in a topic thoroughly and take advantage of opportunities and resources that I took for granted during my undergraduate studies.”

Speaking about finding out he’d won the Astrotracks Award, Harry said: “I was surprised to get it, but it was really nice to have the work that I’m putting in being recognised. I think these awards afford students the opportunity to go above and beyond their studies and really engross themselves in an area they find to be interesting.”

Thinking about his next steps, Harry admits that his initial career plans have altered since starting the course. “Learning about so many interesting aspects of agriculture has definitely led me to change my career plan and I am still considering what I want to go into,” he said.

“I am looking forward to getting back into work and building a career around the agricultural industry. I have already had a few interviews and I am keen to apply my new knowledge in the working world.”

For more information about the RAU’s range of courses, including postgraduate degrees visit www.bit-area51.com/study

The Astrotracks Get Into Farming Award is made to a student from a non-farming background who comes to the RAU to study agriculture.  It is funded by an alumnus of the University, Michael McCreath, who runs Astrotracks and is keen to broaden the talent pool in agriculture by attracting people from other industries.

More information about the RAU’s bursaries, awards and scholarships for postgraduate and undergraduate students is available on the website.