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Hill Farm Apprentice Scheme

Organisation and project idea

The Farmer Network is a not-profit organisation set up by farmers in the North West of the United Kingdom. This Farmer network works in a variety of ways to improve the sustainability of farms in Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales.

In 2010, The Prince’s Countryside Fund asked what help might be needed to address the issues they were facing. The response from Farmer Network representatives highlighted the need to provide extra support to encourage young people into farming in their area. That’s how the Hill Farm Apprentice Scheme was created to encourage and train young people to be the next generations of hill farmers in Cumbria.

Main activities

  • 8 young apprentices have been employed by experienced farmers of the Farmer Network over an 18 months period.
  • Work placements have been arranged on 4 hill farms to give experience on different hill farming systems.
  • Over the final 6 months, the apprentices became self-employed but were mentored by the Network to help them find work.
  • After the training programme they received a diploma in Livestock Production.

Success factors

  • Good connection with the local farming community: the scheme was designed by the local farmer’s community.
  • Practical training: the training was designed to be practical and skill oriented, avoiding paper work.
  • Funding: the scheme was financed combining different funds; The Prince ´s Countryside funding for the cost of employing the apprentices and the Rural Development Programme to pay the trainings.


Providing training by local farmers help young ones to earn experience in a particularly hard environment as uplands, where profits are lower and work is hard. This scheme is a good example on a successful activity ensuring demographic transition in farming. It helps young people training in a practical job oriented way and ensures the future of the farming in the area.

If you want to learn more about this good practice, please check:

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7N5UkKYXPU

Article published on a grocery store magazine: http://www.thefarmernetwork.co.uk/files/9113/1048/7635/Hill_Farm_Apprentice_scheme_news_entry.pdf

9 January 2014

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