Students at the Royal Agricultural University are rallying behind a campaign to stop the university selling a farm.
The 622 acre Harnhill Manor is one of several farms used by the university. It is an integrated livestock and cropping system, part of which is managed organically and includes a 120-sow outdoor organic pig herd and a mule, Lleyn ewe breeding flock alongside a calf rearing enterprise.
Students are concerned at the drawbacks of this action, including depriving students of first hand practical experience and the negative message suggested about the future of the British farming industry.
The petition claims that Harnhill is an invaluable asset to the University, especially to those students who attend without a farming background. The petition asks for signatories to stand with students and alumni in convincing the University to withdraw the sale.
Professor Mike Gooding, head of School for Agriculture, Food and the Environment at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) said:
“As part of its commitment to continuously enhance the learning experience for RAU students, the University has reviewed the role of its farming operations in the delivery of teaching, research and knowledge exchange. We have decided to focus our on-site teaching activities at Coates Farm, next to the University. In addition, we continue to develop strategic partnerships with local and regional farming enterprises, providing our students with an enhanced range of up to date best practice farming operations off-site.
“Only a small proportion of land at Harnhill is currently used for teaching and research – and the farm is not easily accessible from the main University campus. As a result, we are now in the process of offering this site for sale, whilst retaining the Rural Innovation Centre and Farm491 Agri-tech Hub located at Harnhill. This approach, fully supported by the University’s Governing Council, underpins the opportunities which will become available as the RAU develops its academic strategy, aimed at satisfying the current and future needs of the food and farming industry.”