Chris Gill – Farm Manager
Christopher Gill from Caledon, County Tyrone a former CAFRE, Greenmount Campus student, took some time out of his busy schedule to tell us about his education, career, and passion for agriculture.
Why did you decide to study at CAFRE and how has it influenced your career?
Despite not coming from a farming background, I was always interested in tractors, animals and all things agricultural. I grew up in Lisburn and spent many summers and weekends on local farms, firstly just ‘tagging along’ and then learning to drive tractors and machinery, before working with stock and cycling to relief milk in the mornings and evenings. This interest led to me to applying to study for a National Diploma in Agriculture at Greenmount Campus in 2007, which included a one year work placement. My placement year provided me with valuable work experience, confidence and an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge into practice. Following completion of the National Diploma in Agriculture, I returned to Greenmount Campus to study a Higher National Diploma in Agriculture from 2010 to 2012.
What was your first job after graduating?
After graduating with a Higher National Diploma in Agriculture, I decided to pursue a career in farm management. I applied for a job in Essex as an Assistant Farm Manager on an 8,000 acre vegetable and arable farm where I spent two years. I was responsible for most vegetable crops and most notably fresh spring onions, harvested daily throughout the season requiring precise management of sowing, growing, harvesting and the management of approximately 30 harvest staff.
Tell me a little about your current job?
After spending two years in Essex, I progressed to my current job as Farm Manager of Caledon Estate which is a 2,500 acre estate situated in County Tyrone. I am responsible for the operation of a 500kw Anaerobic Digester (AD) and for growing the crops to supply the AD on the land. A number of crops are grown, including, whole crop rye, triticale, forage, maize and grass silage. Caledon Estate is very diverse and also includes commercial forestry, a herd of red deer, sheep and cattle. On the estate we also have three holiday cottages. I live on the estate as this is essential for the job.
What advice would you give to someone considering a job in agriculture?
Go for it – it is a great industry to be in! There are so many different aspects of agriculture jobs available, there really is something for everyone! I would encourage every student to work hard but most importantly have a goal in mind, whether that be to return to the family farm, enter the agri-food industry or work in some aspect of agriculture. There are many opportunities available to students at Greenmount Campus and I would encourage all students to grasp them when they can.
Would you recommend studying at CAFRE?
I enjoyed my time immensely at Greenmount Campus – I would highly recommend studying at CAFRE to anyone with the interest in agriculture. I gained invaluable skills and experience. The Greenmount Farms provided an excellent practical learning resource enabling me to ‘learn by doing’. If working in agriculture interests you, I encourage you to look at the further and higher education courses available at CAFRE. CAFRE contact details are: www.cafre.ac.uk Discover CAFRE on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, Freephone: 0800 028 4291 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org