Student experiences

Kate Eardley on placement

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10 October 2013

Marketing a farm shop

BSc (Hons) Agri-Business student Kate Eardley carried out her year in industry as a marketing assistant at an award-winning farm shop in Shropshire.

The 21-year-old says her placement at Apley Farm Shop has given her a much greater understanding of the industry.

“I found my placement on the Harper Adams placement website. The university provides a great service where it uploads lots of different placement positions available for you to apply for. The position at Apley appealed to me as coming from an agricultural background and knowing how much work goes into farming and producing food, the idea of marketing and promoting locally produced food and working with farmers is something that really interested me.

“The farm shop focuses on providing customers with locally sourced, quality food,” she says. “The business sources some of its food and drink from its own Apley Estate, Shropshire’s farmers and food suppliers, and neighbouring counties. The ethos of Apley, providing locally sourced food, is also something I strongly believe in. It is easy to market something when you believe and are passionate about what you are trying to market.

A typical day at Apley Farm Shop included making sure the website was up-to-date with all relevant information and events, designing promotional materials for new products in the shop and upcoming events, sending out adverts, updating and analysing the loyalty card database, and uploading events onto online diaries.

“I really enjoyed my placement year there. I have learnt more than I ever imagined learning in a year and got a great understanding of the industry, plus I made some great friends and the interview process was great for gaining experience for applying for jobs. You gain heaps of experience, learn lots of life lessons and it helps you to prepare for the real world a little bit. The opportunity to gain a year in industry is an excellent experience. It can also lead to further opportunities after you graduate.”

Kate, who will graduate in 2014 and hopes to pursue a career in farm sales for an agricultural feed company, adds: “The course at Harper Adams has given me a greater understanding of agriculture and how to apply business methods to the farm. Coming from a family dairy farm I wanted to further my studies somewhere related to the agriculture and land-based sector.

“I have always enjoyed studying business as it is such a varied subject and also enjoyed agriculture. I thought what better than Agri-Business? I love applying the business aspect side to farming and agriculture. The university was also close to where I lived so I could pop home at weekends to help, but I found that once I was at Harper Adams I never wanted to go home.

“It is a beautiful place to study. The famous ‘Harper Spirit’ is amazing and fantastic to be a part of. To be able to go out onto the farm and into the field is a great way to learn. I have made some great life-long friends and have some fantastic memories. It has definitely been the best three years of my life so far.”

Placements at the Apley Estate are very popular with students from various courses including Food, Business and Rural Enterprise and Land Management. With a wide range of enterprises it offers lots of ways to gain valuable and wide ranging experience.

From the Estate’s website:

“The Apley Estate consists of some 8,500 acres (3,500 hectares) set in beautiful Shropshire countryside, predominantly to the North of the market town of Bridgnorth and is bissected on a North – South line by the River Severn which for centuries was an important trading and transport artery, but is now a tranquil waterway much admired by the local fishermen and nature lovers alike.

“The Estate is still in the ownership of descendants of the family who purchased it in 1868 and we now have three generations of the Hamilton family who are committed to ensuring its continued existence.

“Apley Estate comprises approximately 300 residential properties as well as let commercial and agricultural properties. The majority of our cottages are rented out and we have a deserved reputation for the quality of our lettings. We have also diversified into holiday lets and our first fully refurbished cottages, set in stunning locations are now open to guests.

“In addition to property and agricultural lets we have a successful well established sporting enterprise with let shooting days. Coarse fishing permits can also be purchased for a day, week or a season at very reasonable cost.”

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