Black Farmer from Birmingham man promotes diversity in farming with initiative for teens

It will be an all-expenses paid residential weekend at the University College’s countryside campus from 7-9 October.

A Birmingham man has partnered up with Writtle University College (WUC) in Essex to increase diversity within the food, farming and agricultural industries.

The initiative - New Faces For Farming - will offer young people from a wide range of backgrounds an opportunity to learn about careers in this sector. Participants will visit WUC’s working farm and experience a weekend of socialising and life on a university campus.

It will be an all-expenses paid residential weekend at the University College’s countryside campus from 7-9 October and will offer teenagers, aged 16-18, a taste of farm life.

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, Founder of The Black Farmer

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE, aka The Black Farmer, who was raised in Small Heath, realised his dream of owning a farm at the age of 40 and now wants young people from diverse backgrounds to consider farming as a career.

He fulfilled a life-long dream when he bought a small farm on the Devon/Cornwall border, which is the inspiration for his brand - The Black Farmer. He was awarded an MBE for Services to Farming in 2020.

Wilfred, now in his 60s came to the UK from Jamaica with his parents, he writes on his website. He was the eldest of nine chidlren and helped his father tending to their allotment.

“As a young boy living in inner city Birmingham and with an interest in farming, it was 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,” he said.

Writtle University College’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Tim Middleton said: “We are pleased to be working closely with Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones to launch this important initiative. 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.”

Diversity in agriculture

A National Farmer’s Union report said agriculture contributed around £24 billion of revenues and around £8.5 billion of Gross Value Added to the UK economy in 2015. Agriculture also provides around 475,000 jobs directly. And yet, farming can be the least diverse industry. A Sky News report had said that 97.2% of workers in agricultural, forestry and fishing are white, excluding seasonal workers, are white.

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