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Watch Countryside College on BBC One NI

June 15, 2021

Viewers are being provided with another opportunity to watch Countryside College. The three part observational documentary series is to be repeated from Monday 21st June at 10.45pm on BBC One Northern Ireland.

It follows the ups and downs of the 2019/20 academic year for a diverse group of students from the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise. CAFRE’s motto is to ‘learn by doing’. It features students who thrive on cutting edge practical studies, whether that’s in farming, food, flowers or foals. During the series viewers get exclusive access to the campuses based at Enniskillen, Loughry and Greenmount. Find out what it really takes for these students to become qualified ‘custodians of the countryside’.

Filmed from September 2019 – June 2020, each episode concentrates on the chronological seasonal unfolding of the college term. It captures the huge impact the Coronavirus pandemic had mid-way through the academic year. The series tracks the experience of seven students from different backgrounds as they get to grips with college life before and after lockdown.

The start of the college term finds students immersed in their studies as they work towards their individual goals. For Luke Norton from Longford this is his second year studying Equine Management at Enniskillen Campus. Luke’s hoping he will be one of the students picked to walk the foals in the sales ring at Tattersalls, County Meath. At Loughry Campus, Jack Graham from Ballymoney is in his second year studying Food Technology. Much of his time is taken up with The Chicken Challenge; with 12 weeks to develop a new product that is nutritious, allergen free, convenient and in sustainable packaging.

In the Dairy Centre amongst the 180 dairy cows, is Leanne Green from County Down. She has been using her hairdressing skills to clip the cattle. Leanne and best friend Katie Acheson who met at Greenmount Campus are heading off on a shopping spree. They will visit the autumn Stirling Bull Sales where Leanne is hoping to buy the Pedigree Shorthorn heifer of her dreams.

Meanwhile in Greenmount Campus, Charlotte Houston from Ballyclare is in the first year of her Agriculture course. She’s from a non-farming background and is getting to grips with farm machinery. In contrast, Jack Nevin is already familiar with the tools of the trade, coming from an established dairy farm outside Portrush. He’s in his final year studying Agriculture but his passion for fitness has him wondering what career he really wants.

First year Agriculture student Charlotte Houston on the tractor driving simulator at Greenmount campus

Charlotte Houston, Agriculture student from Ballyclare

While Jack is questioning whether or not to follow in the family tradition, Horticulture student Niall Greene has firm hopes to one day take over his father’s nursery business. Niall from County Armagh works for his father at weekends and studies plant science at Greenmount Campus. He had been looking forward to his summer work placement in a nursery in Bordeaux when suddenly everything is put on hold.

Niall Green, Horticulture student

Niall Greene, Horticulture student from County Armagh

The series uniquely captures first-hand how college life takes a dramatic twist when Covid-19 strikes midway during second term. For the first time since World War Two all campuses at CAFRE are closed. The students are forced to say goodbye to their classmates. They find themselves having to adjust to learning from home, while taking on challenging new roles as essential workers. As the country gradually eases out of lockdown the students reflect on their remarkable rollercoaster year at Countryside College.

The series is narrated by County Tyrone actor Fra Fee and was made by Waddell Media for BBC Northern Ireland.