March 2020

Students connect with fresh produce suppliers to grow sustainability knowledge

Read time: approx 2 mins

Sustainable food production processes are a global priority and final year Food and Nutrition undergraduates were digitally teamed up with one of Europe’s leading suppliers of fresh produce to increase their industry knowledge.

As part of the Farmer Time initiative, which uses the power of online platforms to inspire and engage young people, the students were paired up with Vitacress to explore food supply today and the technology being developed in today’s farming processes, from robotics to forecasting models.

Organised by LEAF Education and the University, the FaceTime video sessions were led by Laura Marner, a growing manager and agronomist, and Daryl Phillips, technical lead, at Vitacress, a specialist in watercress, salads and fresh herbs.

Lecturer Mark Ewins, who teaches on the Food and Nutrition BSc (Hons) degree course at the University’s College of Food and Hospitality Management, said the sessions focused on the three pillars of sustainability, social, economic and environmental.

“The fortnightly sessions were organised to support the degree’s Food Supply and Sustainability module, giving our students the opportunity to gain a broader perspective of the work of Vitacress and how this links to many areas of their course study,” he said.

“Laura and Daryl are passionate about educating students about agriculture to promote a better understanding of where their food comes from and the work that goes into producing fresh produce. The consistency of having them to talk to every fortnight allowed the students to ask questions and develop their understanding of not only their course syllabus, but also gain a vital broader perspective of the industry as a whole.

“The calls generated consideration of the impacts of Brexit, the importance of contingency planning and the purpose of legislation, and also gave the students the opportunity to consider the many career opportunities available within agriculture.

“Accessing an online discussion board to pose questions before each call, the students got so much out of it to benefit their studies and future careers.”

Founded by farmer Tom Martin, Farmer Time is designed to link directly to the curriculum across education, bringing classroom work to life on screen. Students speak live to farmers through FaceTime or Skype, discuss ideas, ask questions, share knowledge and gain a ‘real-time’ understanding of farming today.

Find out more about our Food and Nutrition BSc (Hons) degree course within our College of Food and Hospitality Management, which has 100% student satisfaction, according to the National Student Survey 2019.

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