CPRE Northumberland

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Edward Dungait, Young Farmer of Northumberland

Edward lives and works on the family farm...

...just north of Stannington. He is an arable farmer, growing wheat, barley, oil-seed rape and beans among other cash crops, constantly juggling issues like soil quality and improvement, seed strains, weather conditions and the need to maximise yields to make a worthwhile profit. The farm is also looking to diversify, adapting a traditional wooden barn as an atmospheric venue for wedding receptions.

In this respect he is little different from farmers up and down the country – indeed, all over the world. But what makes him special is the time he gives to supporting the professional and social life of his fellow young farmers. He has been Chairman and Secretary of his local club, Tritlington Young Farmers, for many years (one of ten in Northumberland). It involves a lot of work, which he willingly gives his energies to, explaining, ‘The more you put in, the more you get out of it’.

He sees his role as advising and encouraging others (in a business that grows harder every year), and in running a wide range of sporting and social activities, with a football team, a drama group (he is particularly proud of their annual pantomime), social events, talks, and competitions in the various country skills we see on display in summer agricultural shows.

                                                     Ed AGM 2019

Recently, Edward has been given an opportunity to extend his range of involvement countrywide by his appointment as Vice-Chair of the National Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs. Pressed on how he hopes to meet the challenges of the role, he picked out enthusiasm and a positive outlook as essential qualities; a drive towards unity and cooperation as needful in the face of conflicting views on the future of the organisation; and finally an emphasis on sociability and community spirit to hold it all together.

Young farmers like Edward are key figures that CPRE needs to work with in pursuit of its aim to ‘promote rural life’. On our emphasis, for instance, on sustainable farming, with its concern for the protection of soil quality by organic improvement, he explained that while aiming for this, it is much harder to achieve it in the north of England than, say near the south coast. While the turn-around time between harvesting a summer crop and autumn sowing in Sussex may be three months (allowing plenty of time for muck-spreading and other treatments) in Northumberland it is often just weeks, with shorter days to work in.

                                                   Ed D Wheat Combining

He nevertheless appreciates the contribution CPRE makes to the study of farming via its range of reports and surveys, and is open to dialogue with us as new issues arise. The farming community lies at the heart of rural life, and CPRE would do well to listen when thoughtful and public-spirited farmers like Edward speak on the subject they are the experts in.

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