Milestone for East Anglia’s farming apprenticeship scheme

EDGE 200th Ed Wharton Patrick Mallett

EDGE 200th Ed Wharton Patrick Mallett - Credit: submitted

Broadland farmer Ed Wharton has recruited the 200th apprentice in a programme to encourage young people into the agricultural industry in eastern England.

The industry-led programme, EDGE apprenticeships in food and farming, launched 18 months ago, has been able to celebrate a milestone in recruitment. A total of 200 apprentices and employers have been matched.

Patrick Mallett, aged 18, of Oermesby, who is also studying part-time at Easton & Otley College, is the 200th EDGE student. He started working for Mr Wharton's farm at Stokesby, near Great Yarmouth, as a 16-year-old student at Flegg High School.

With two years of experience behind him, including helping with cultivations and harvest, his level 3 apprenticeship in crop production wll lead to a nationally-recognised qualification.

He spends one day a week at the Easton site.

His role on the 3,000-acre farm, which has crops including wheat, barley, oilseed rape, potatoes and vining peas, also includes food crops, blackcurrants for Ribena and mint for Colman's of Norwich.

Mr Mallett, who is also an active member of Acle Young Farmers' Club, said: 'I'm really enjoying it, I am learning a lot from the other employees in the business, involving a range of different jobs on the farm.

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Mr Wharton, said: 'Patrick is a very capable young man. He works hard and continues to do a good job. He has the confidence to ask questions if he is unsure of something, which is hard to find in the younger generation.

'It's nice to know we have provided a member of the younger generation with a head start in the farming industry. We're very happy with the work that Patrick does.'

The target is to recruit 440 apprentices by March 2015.

Details about the scheme -