We are very proud to share the news that University Centre Somerset student Andy Smith has been shortlisted for a British Farming Award!
Andy began his farming journey at the age of 22, attending Sparsholt College before working as a shepherd in Hampshire, North Wales and Somerset, which he now calls home.
He has been shortlisted for the Against All Odds award, having overcome losing his job and tied house three and a half years ago.
He says, “Jobless and about to be homeless, I decided that night that I was not going to work for somebody else again and wanted to start my own business.”
He started contract shepherding before entering into a share farming agreement with a local businessman and landowner. In the three years since, he has built up a flock of 300 ewes to 1,000 as well as purchasing 20 pedigree South Devon cattle.
A return to education has been an important part of the journey for Andy, and he is now in his second year of an Agricultural Management degree at UCS.
“After I began working for myself, I soon learnt that although I knew a fair bit about looking after sheep, I knew very little about running a business. Managing the livestock alongside full-time study is not easy, but despite the challenges I have managed to achieve a first in every assignment to date.”
Andy’s aim now, he says, is to take on more land next year to begin growing cereals with the goal of one day building up enough collateral to buy his own farm.
Dan Rood, Andy’s tutor at University Centre Somerset, said,
“Andy’s nomination is very well deserved; he has worked incredibly hard, combining significant farming commitments alongside studying for his degree. His academic work and research has been of the highest standard and his business management skills have improved remarkably. I’m certain this will stand him in very good stead to further develop his business in the future.”
The British Farming Awards will take place on Thursday 17 October in Birmingham.