Students and alumni from the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) have rallied to block the sale of the university’s farm.
The RAU said it made the decision to sell Harnhill Manor Farm following a review of the role of its farming operations in the delivery of teaching, research and knowledge exchange.
A number of staff and lecturers have allegedly already handed in resignations, but the RAU made it clear that staff from the site would be redeployed to other farms and related activities across the university.
The sale of the farm is pending until all stock is sold, expected in the next few weeks.
RAU head of school for agriculture, food and the environment, Prof Mike Gooding, said teaching focus would be put on on-site activities at Coates Farm, next to the university, but that the Rural Innovation Centre and Farm491 Agri-tech Hub, also at Harnhill, would remain in use.
He said: “In addition, we continue to develop strategic partnerships with local and regional farming enterprises, providing our students with an enhanced range of up-to-date best practice farming operations off-site.”
A phased reduction in the sheep flock, currently 350 ewes, at Harnhill had already been planned, Prof Gooding said, but if the farm was sold, students would continue to gain experience of ‘excellent’ sheep flock husbandry and management systems through external partnerships.
He said: “A current batch of 80 calves that is being reared in collaboration with Buitelaar is due to leave in September.
“While our research and knowledge exchange collaboration with Buitelaar will continue, we do not plan to rear further batches of calves at Harnhill.”
VIEW THE PETITION
To view or sign the petition to save Harnhill Manor Farm, go to ipetitions.com/petition/save-harnhill