2015 Society President announced

Clare Scheckter (photo credit to Brian Platt)Clare Scheckter, who runs Laverstoke Park Farm near Basingstoke in Hampshire with her husband Jody, the 1979 Formula One World Champion, will be President for the South of England Agricultural Society in 2015, it was announced this week.

Clare leads the Laverstoke Park Education Centre (LPEC) on the farm, which has helped introduce food and farming to over 15,000 students from schools, colleges and youth organisations since she started the charity in 2003.

Michael Lambert, Chairman of the South of England Agricultural Society said, “We are delighted to welcome Clare Scheckter as our Society President for 2015 – her experience and remit make her the perfect Champion for our theme for the year, which is The Next Generation.”

Throughout 2015, the Society will be promoting activities to attract young people into countryside careers by raising awareness of the wide range of opportunities available as well as highlighting and supporting innovation in food, growing and the countryside.

Clare Scheckter will be championing the campaign and said: “The future shape and sustainability of Britain’s countryside and rural economy will rely heavily on the imagination, innovation and enterprise of the next generation.

“With more people to feed, less space to grow food and more competition for resources – new thinking, new technology and new ways of working will be crucial to our ability to feed the nation in the future.

“Our chief aims are to celebrate achievement, inspire innovation and empower enterprise of ‘The Next Generation’ and to support and promote examples and displays of next generation thinkers and achievers across all the areas of the Society’s involvement and influence.”

Experts predict a shortfall of 60,000 workers in land based careers in the next decade and the Society will be working with all its partners, including agricultural colleges, to help raise awareness of the huge choice of jobs available, ranging from high tech, laboratory or office-based jobs to the more traditional outdoor job opportunities across all sectors in the countryside through to the retailing of the end products.

Throughout 2015, the South of England Agricultural Society will be expanding its programme of events to promote innovation and education in agriculture, showcasing the very best at its shows including the Spring Garden & Leisure Show in May, the South of England Show in June, the Autumn Show & Game Fair in October and its Festive event in December.

It will be enhancing its educational events and schemes, which include Connect with the Countryside, attracting over 2,300 primary school pupils to the showground in July to discover more about food and farming; and its educational competitions including the Young Craftsman of the Year for 14-22 year olds. The Society will also be spotlighting its scholarship and bursary schemes and emphasising its support for agricultural colleges across the six counties in which it operates, which include Berkshire, East Sussex, Hampshire & the Isle of Wight, Kent, Surrey and West Sussex.

People are encouraged to get involved by volunteering at the shows, attending events and supporting the charity by becoming a member, which includes free entry to all the shows. More info at www.seas.org.uk

Clare Scheckter’s background:

Clare will bring her self-taught knowledge of farming, food production and education to the Society. The 2,500-acre Laverstoke Park Farm she runs with her husband Jody makes no compromise when it comes to using both traditional and state of the art technologies to achieve extraordinary results.

They produce a huge range of biodynamically farmed fruit and vegetables as well as a wide range of livestock, including rare breeds that have almost been forgotten in Europe. Their water buffalo herd is the largest in the UK and they use the creamy milk to create mozzarella cheese, brie, Gouda and cheddar cheese as well as ice cream in their own manufacturing plant.

Their wild boar and beef herds are grass fed and organically reared and their poultry flocks enjoy a perfect state of free range and organic living, alongside each other. Laverstoke Park also has facilities to prepare all its own meat and many neighbouring farms’ meat on site for sale to market and through their superb farm shop.

Recycling green waste is a huge element of Laverstoke Park’s work where they have a seven acre composting facility capable of handling over 70,000 tonnes of green waste a year; they use some of the resulting compost on the farm and even have a soil laboratory on the farm, which farmers can send samples to for testing and advice on how to work with their soil to improve the health of their soils, and subsequently plants, without resorting to chemicals.

Clare enjoys being able to work with young people, helping them to discover where their food comes from and building their understanding of farming and nature and encouraging them to explore careers in this area.

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