Sarah Howseman heard about The McDonald’s Progressive Young Farmer scheme through Harper Adams and after being accepted onto the programme has experienced all different aspects of working for industry giants McDonald's and McCain Foods.
“My main role was with the Regional Agriculture Team at McCain based in the East of England and I’d do everything from meeting growers, discussing and looking at their crops to spending time in the lab sampling the crop for quality and making sure they meet the factory product specification.
I also worked on two grant funding projects that McCain are involved in - the McCain Potato Farmer Pledge which aims to help growers invest in sustainable potato growing and the Sustainable MacFries Fund, which is a fund in conjunction with McDonald's and looks at efficient use of water and soil health management.”
The 22-year-old, from Lincolnshire, also undertook a project tackling a topical industry challenge as part of the Progressive Young Farmer Scheme.
“For my project, I focused on looking at the effect of ethylene on fry colour in long term potato storage. This is currently a very important topic due to the loss of CIPC which was the most popular sprout suppressant in use until October 2020.”
Sarah also had plenty of hands-on experience as she was involved in harvesting at one of McCain’s trials sites, involving hand-harvesting trial plots to aid the development of new varieties of potatoes.
“A highlight of placement for me was getting to attend the Great Yorkshire Show with McDonald’s for the launch of their A-Zero Guide, created in partnership with The Prince’s Countryside Fund, which translates 50 agriculture terms into more accessible language. I met HRH The Prince of Wales, the other Progressive Young Farmers and McDonald’s employees.”
“I learned so much during my year on placement and I think it has really set me up for my future-it has also been so rewarding seeing the hard work I’ve done being used for something that will have an impact in the sector and beyond.”
Sarah is now in the final year of her BSc (Hons) Agriculture and Crop Management degree after achieving high enough marks throughout the Foundation degree to transfer up to the Honours route.
“When I was thinking about applying to university, I’d heard a lot about Harper Adams from my friends in Young Farmers who were already studying here, and after doing my own research, hearing about the placement year and the universities great reviews… that was it!”
“Four years later and I have loved my time at Harper Adams, from meeting new people to learning new things and setting the groundwork of my future career,” says Sarah.