Students back as Dartington trust and Bicton college link up for Totnes campus
STUDENTS will be returning to Dartington after a new partnership was launched with an agricultural college.
Dartington Hall Trust and Bicton College announced plans to establish a new campus on the estate, which is expected to bring in £1million to the local economy in grants and student spending.
The scheme would see facilities and land at Dartington used by bout 200 students from Bicton. In exchange for their skills and experience, Dartington would see its land used in a more socially progressive way.
The proposed collaboration called Bicton College@Dartington is expected to bring 15 to 20 jobs with a wide range of courses for students from 14 upwards, from across the region.
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Vaughan Lindsay, chief executive officer for Dartington, said: "We wanted to identify new projects which really push the boundaries of what's possible, and that match the original spirit of experimentation of our founders, the Elmhirsts.
"This innovative partnership with Bicton College is exactly the kind of project we were looking for to accompany our other plans for agroforestry, community supported agriculture and biomass projects on the estate."
The new campus will offer courses in all aspects of agriculture, horticulture and countryside management, opening up a range of new opportunities for young people in Devon.
The partnership will also aim to build upon the Trust's international reputation for learning and research in sustainability, horticulture and land use by working together to explore the concept of Fossil Fuel Free farming.
Bicton College principal and chief executive, David Henley, said: "This exciting partnership has the potential to make a significant impact on how UK farming responds to the issues of climate change, and energy and food security.
"We were eager to partner with Dartington who not only share our vision of the criticality of addressing these issues, but have common values and principles.
"We also believe this partnership will enable us to support our land-based mission across Devon and beyond, providing opportunities for learners who previously may have struggled to access our courses on our main campus."
The two organisations hope that by combining their expertise they can combine traditional agricultural education with research into a range of commercially viable sustainable farming systems and explore the concept of Fossil Fuel Free farming.
Projects currently being considered include anaerobic digestion as an alternative source to non-organic fertilisers, solar power generation, biogas-powered farm machinery, filtrated plant oil as an alternative vehicle fuel and biomass boilers for heating.
The new campus has received the support from the National Farmers' Union.
Tim Jones, chairman of Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, added: "The coming together of two such important institutions is a most significant event. The Dartington Hall Trust has been at the leading edge of research and creative thinking while retaining one of the peninsula's most unique estates.
"Bicton College has made spectacular progress in the last few years in promoting themselves as a centre of excellence for the rural economy and able to lead agricultural community into a new renaissance for profitable farming.
Bicton College has already began taking on students for the intake in September 2013.