My name is Carole Brunton, I live on the family farm at Balmonth in the East Neuk of Fife.
My husband Ian and I have three children; Lianne is a Physiotherapist in Edinburgh, Jenny is a Senior European Policy Advisor with the British Agriculture Bureau in Brussels, and Ally is at home on the farm.
On the farm we have 260 breeding ewes and 300 acres made up of 250 arable and 50 grass & woodland.
We also have a 500kw wind turbine on the farm which was erected in 2015.
Having been born and raised on a farm, agriculture and the rural industry has always been a huge part of my life. This passion has led to agriculture and education being at the heart of both my professional and personal life.
I currently sit on the WIAS Committee where our aims are to share experiences of land-based industries and rural Scotland, seek advice, support and skills-based learning and to access networking through peer group support. This year we are excited to be hosting a Breakfast at the Highland Show with networking opportunities and interactive information sessions on issues relating to Scottish Agriculture.
I am Honorary President of Fife & Kinross District Young Farmers, as a past member of East Fife Young Farmers it is great to still be involved with Young Farmers sharing their enthusiasm and passion, and I am a member of YFA Scotland which is an organisation for Young Farmers, both past and present, who have represented Scotland on an International Exchange which I did in 1986 heading to New Zealand for a six month exchange, this group gets together at the Highland Show every year to share stories and reminisce about their time away.
In June I, along with 5 others, will be representing RHASS in Frankfurt at the Women in Food and Agriculture Summit which looks to be a busy few days. The Summit is entitled “A Force for Change” and in my opinion, change is always good, great things never come from inside your comfort zone!
Outwith the farm I work for the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) and have done for over 20 years as Project Co-ordinator in Fife.
RHET Fife Countryside Initiative started in 2002, supported by a committee and numerous volunteers. I organise farm visits for schools right across Fife, alongside my wonderful assistant Angela Mill.
Balmonth has hosted visits since I took on the post and I feel it is important to give children the real messages about farming. We don’t hide anything from them and hope they go away with a better understanding of Scottish agriculture.
As a whole, RHET is made up of 13 Countryside Initiatives and thanks to around 80 plus volunteers, RHET Fife is one of the busiest in Scotland. Carole says, “the farm visits really make an impact on children; I often get approached by young adults who say they remember visiting a farm when they were in primary school.”
All the services of RHET are provided free to schools in Scotland and designed to build bridges between pupils and the agricultural community while fulfilling the learning objectives of a Curriculum for Excellence.
I have also been involved with RHET’s Year of Beef which is running throughout this academic year this allows us to look at beef production from farm to fork. Creating a library of resources which allows us to address the misinformation being taught in schools.
Lesley Mason (Project Coordinator in the Scottish Borders) and myself were asked to head up RHET’s Year of Beef. This topic was chosen to teach about sustainable Scottish beef production to help teachers with the facts and allow them to tackle some of the misinformation being taught in schools.
We started with great ideas and enthusiasm which continued throughout the year culminating at this year’s Highland Show.
We decided to focus on a topic each month and produced a calendar of resources and activities for schools from September through to June, working in partnership with QMS and RNCI, RHET told the story of beef production in Scotland. We developed a range of resources for use in schools covering sustainability, grass, careers, butchery, cooking, technology and much more over the duration of the academic year.
Thank you to all the supporters of RHETs Year of Beef. Without the support of numerous companies and organisations we would not have been able to complete this wide-ranging project and help inform school pupils from across Scotland about sustainable beef farming.
Thank you must also go to all the RHET volunteer farmers and local Countryside Initiative Co-ordinators who engaged with pupils virtually while schools were under covid restrictions. The Year of Beef activities have reached 190,000 school pupils across Scotland.
RHET, like farming, is not a job it’s more of a way of life – my family will tell you that it doesn’t matter where I am, I’m always taking photos or notes because “it might be handy for RHET” I’ve even got them doing it too!