Farm, Fork and Glass: Agriculture & Innovation in England

2017 Department of Agricultural Science & Education Faculty-led trip

For two weeks in June and July, 2017 the department of Agricultural Sciences launched its inaugural faculty-led tour of Agriculture in rural northwestern England, organized by Academic Advisor Dawn Moyer, accompanied by Dr. Misty Lambert. Building on Oregon State University’s longstanding exchange relationship with University of Nottingham, the group stayed on campus at Nottingham’s University Park campus for five nights, visiting the University’s working farm and School of BioSciences, at the Sutton-Bonington branch campus. Students toured the robotic dairy facility, attended presentations by faculty of Agricultural Economics regarding the British dairy industry, toured the campus beer brewing facilities, learned about food allergies and spoke firsthand to faculty working with emerging technologies such as Computed Tomography. The faculty at University of Nottingham were both collegial and interested in Oregon State University’s research and programs, and students demonstrated both decorum and diplomatic sensibilities in asking questions and engaging these faculty about the work that they do.

Northern England boasts some of the finest cheeses in Europe, and the group visited Long Clawson dairy, home of award-winning Stilton and Leicester cheeses, and enjoyed tastings and a presentation by the company Executive Officer. Another day included a visit to the tiny village of Laxton, which has practiced “open field” farming for more than 1,000 years. Resident farmer and local historian Stuart Rose gave a cultural overview and tour of the area’s plots and farming practices, and arguably provided the most intimate view of life in rural England, where traditional farming practices remain intact after more than a millennium.

After their time in Nottingham, the group spent a weekend at Oxford University - a highlight for many program participants, as they stayed at Mansfield College, fitting in tours by Oxford students, visits to museums, and opportunities to take in formal and pub-based live music concerts, as well as a weekend celebration of “Alice,” in reference to one of Oxford’s most famous graduates, Lewis Carroll.

The final week of the trip took the group to the picturesque Cotswolds, where they visited a hop farm and cider apple orchard which boasts an on-site brewery, and learned about the renewed interest in regional and traditional ales, production of these and how the different styles of brews (including ales and ciders) evolved to capitalize on regional crops. A day visit to area “allotments” in the city of Cheltenham gave the group insights into the history of urban horticulture, and included a presentation by an organization that has capitalized on a renewed interest in community gardens, to educate the British on locally grown crops, and to promote an employment program for at-risk residents seeking opportunities to become self-sufficient.

A visit to Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester gave the group an opportunity to learn about research at the oldest Agricultural University in the English-speaking world, and the bus ride back to Cheltenham included a stopover at a small goat cheese company that produces fresh cheeses in a 100 year-old traditional method popularized in France.

The final day of the visit included a tour of a dairy boasting an on-site ‘wild and spontaneous fermented beer’ facility which are working to merge traditional cheese making with innovative beer production processes. Students were able to sample 2 year old cheddars and learned about pairing these with creative new styles of beer, produced in the age-old style of ‘wild fermentation,’ or some would say, “immaculate fermentation.” 

The student group included a representative of the Oregon Dairy Council, who presented our hosts with Oregon dairy memorabilia, and ranged in age from 19 - 50.  Most of the participants were OSU undergraduates, majoring in Agricultural Science, Animal Science, Agricultural Education and Business, and few had traveled outside of the U.S. previously.  The entire group enjoyed the opportunity to interact with locals and industry experts around agricultural commodities, practices and traditions, many of which were unfamiliar.

The department of Agricultural Sciences and Education plans to lead the trip again in summer, 2018.

OSU students at the University of Nottingham’s University Park campus

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The College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University is Oregon's principal source of knowledge relating to agricultural and food systems, and a major source of knowledge regarding environmental quality, natural resources, life sciences, and rural economies and communities worldwide. The College provides undergraduate and graduate education leading to baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and extended education programs throughout Oregon and beyond. Its research programs create knowledge to solve problems and to build a knowledge base for the future. It is a source of information and expertise in integrating and applying knowledge with benefits that are felt in domestic and international settings.