As always, Hadlow College had a significant presence and profile at this year’s Kent County Show, as sponsors of the cattle marquee, heritage prizes and plaques. This was the 5th successive year that Hadlow has supported the heritage section.
On the Friday morning, as the sun beat down and the Showground sprang to life, we hosted one of the signature events of the Kent Show, the Rural plc AGM, attended by senior figures within the sector and the media. Following a speech by Chairman Michael Bax, the keynote address was delivered by MP for Ashford and former First Secretary, Damian Green, who then joined a panel to debate the future of food production post-Brexit.
The panel also consisted of Thanet Earth’s Rob James, Hadlow College’s Deputy Principal and CEO Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, Hadlow College’s head of faculty for agriculture, Nick Pierpoint and renowned chef and local food champion Rosemary Shrager, with spirited input from the assembled audience, which included Guy Smith, deputy president of the NFU, who raised the subject of the recent proposed supermarket mergers and how they might impact farmers.
Following this, the College unveiled its Vision 50 prototype to the assembled guests in the Maidstone Exhibition Hall. The 8m x 5m device is a visionary educational tool designed for students studying at Hadlow and draws on the latest advancements in computer simulation technology to create an immersive learning environment for students to solve life-like farming scenarios. The device was on public display throughout the show and garnered much media interest:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06bt3w6 (begins 2:27)
Elsewhere at the Showground, visitors were able to watch our students sheep-shearing, see vintage tractors restored by our Agricultural Engineering students in the heritage section and witness our equine students ably assisting with the arena parties in the Astor Ring across the three days. The College’s trailer, manned by its friendly Marketing team, was on site to provide advice and guidance on land-based careers.
Later in the day, we were delighted at the announcement that our student-designed Vision 50 show garden won Gold in the Garden Life Flower Show. The student designer, Pippa Thomson, was the winner of a College competition to design the show garden, which we held across our Garden Design and Horticulture courses. The installation of the garden was a team effort involving student volunteers, our Grounds team and Horticulture team, who were also responsible for the stunning hanging baskets which adorned the Showground.
Lecturer in Garden Design, Jamie Shakeshaft, who co-ordinated the hard landscaping of the Show garden, said: "Any design project for our students is always great experience and a valuable learning curve, engaging the student in a tangible design process and delivery of a garden. Each year, the Kent Show has afforded many of our students this opportunity to see their ideas come to life as a garden that thousands of people get to enjoy at the showground. Pippa worked tremendously hard on refining her initial sketch design using drawings and models, producing materials specifications and a planting strategy.
"Most importantly, the final resolution exhibited and showcased some of the valuable research and futurist thinking that our faculty is undertaking linked to Vision 50. I am delighted that Pippa will be embarking on her degree programme in Garden Design this September, and to see her future career unfold. A big thank you to our grounds team, faculty team and student volunteers for their involvement in the construction and realisation."
With so many exciting developments over the course of the weekend, the media wanted in on the action, and BBC Radio Kent visited both our Vision 50 prototype – with Phil Harrison interviewing Mark Lumsdon-Taylor - and our sheep-shearing area, with reporter Ronni Cook trying her hand at some shearing. Students tending to our dairy herd were also visited by Helen Grant MP, who met student Lindsay and one of our lovely Holsteins, Blake Marigold.
On the Saturday and Sunday, we ran a tractor-driving course for the Kent Young Farmer Clubs’ competitions, with the aim of the game being to negotiate a course of cones with added hazards to load a pallet onto the back of a trailer, all within a time-frame.
Our dairy team, consisting of students co-ordinated by Josh Velvick and Charlotte Matthews, came away with an excellent haul of prizes in the cattle competitions. Charlotte commented: “We had some tough competition this year, and the team of students did Josh and I proud with all their hard work.”
Our results were as follows:
4th, 5th and 6th places in the maiden heifer class
6th, 8th and 9th for the in calf heifers class
4th, 5th and 6th in the maiden heifers class
2nd in the in calf heifer class
3rd, 4th and 5th in the next in calf heifer class
Two 2nd places and Two 3rd places with the in milk cows
2nd, 3rd and 4th in the milk recorded class.
4th in the pairs class
2nd prize for the overall presentation of our dairy area during the show
As always, our numerous successes at this year’s Show were testament to the commitment and hard work put in by our students and staff. Well done all!