Farm manager Tony wants to give back as he returns to his old college
- Credit: Archant
A former Easton and Otley college student has expressed delight after returning as its farm manager with 30 years in the industry under his belt.
Tony Buttle hopes his alma mater will become one of the top colleges for farming in the country, and that farms on both campuses – now under his responsibility – will be “a real showpiece and selling point for the college”.
Tony, who found out he had got the job towards the end of last year, said taking on the role was “an easy decision to make”. “I was delighted. I’ve worked in farming for over 30 years and it’s been good to me - so now I feel it’s the right time to give something back,” he said.
MORE - Suffolk butcher, pie maker and post office vie for ‘rural oscars’ titles at annual event“As a former student, it feels like I’ve come home. I was keen to work in education and give something back to the industry. I believe I can help new generations get the skills they need to hit the ground running when they start their careers.”
The college has changed “so much for the better” since he was a student there in the 1980s, he said.
“Although my dad wasn’t into farming, my grandfather was, so I used to spend my school holidays working the land and this is where I got my interest in the industry. I then became a student at the college back in 1988 and studied on a national certificate in agriculture. I went on work placements mainly working with cereals, potatoes and sugar beet.”
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Tony, who served in the role on an interim basis before being awarded a permanent post, said a successful show season had been a highlight last year.
“Also, I’ve been involved in supporting students who have been through some tough times before coming to the college – so seeing them grow as individuals and witnessing how farming can positively change their outlooks on life has given me the greatest sense of achievement,” he said.
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At the end of last year, Tony visited Witnesham School, near Ipswich, dressed as Farmer Christmas to hand out gifts to students and promote careers in agriculture to youngsters.
Future plans for the farm include continuing to work with Red Poll cattle at the Otley campus, where there are also around 100 ewes. “We are currently looking at bringing in some rare breed sheep to help strengthen our students’ knowledge and give them new experiences,” he said.
“At Easton we are going to look after the arable side of farming ourselves. Students will be ploughing, spraying, drilling and they will also be making agronomy choices.
“We’re also going to be working with a local dairy farmer rearing some young stock so that are students can get a real experience of this side of the industry.”
The college’s popular lambing weekend is returning to its Easton campus on March 2 and 3, when visitors will get to see its Highland cattle and other livestock. Easton and Otley will also be holding a lambing day at the Otley campus for the first time in the spring at a date yet to be confirmed.
As well as the lambing days, among the activities planned for this year for students are the college’s Big Day Out open days, and a group of students will head to Paris to take part in the annual AGROLYMPICS competition. As ever, they will be out in force at the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk shows.