The importance of apprenticeships

Back in September we welcomed a new member to our team here at Rawston Farm Butchery, the young apprentice, Leighton Foot.

Young butchers’ apprentices don’t come along very often, and what a joy it is to have found a course for him to do. It was a bit rocky at the start as searching for one was almost impossible close by. There weren’t any courses on offer locally in Dorset and as you can imagine, butchery courses are few and far between as a large part of them take place online.

In the middle of January we met his course tutor for the first time who came down from Cambridge to meet him in person. It was lovely to meet her face to face rather than doing it all through a screen. I can’t stress enough how important apprenticeships are for the future of young people. How are they going to learn these much-needed important skills for our food and farming community, if these courses aren’t there for them to take? We need more young students coming into the workforce of food and farming so think about it as a career option, everyone needs to eat and it’s a fabulous industry to be involved in. It’s a complete joy seeing Leighton having lots of hands-on experience here at Rawston Butchery.

He can already make sausages which are tied by hand. It’s difficult to do as we don’t have a machine and do it the old-fashioned way. It’s a complete art form trying to make them all the same size and Leighton should already be proud of his achievements in sausage making. He gets great experience at a small business like ours, we do things the old-fashioned way. We often butcher customers own lambs and pigs for their home freezers, these services are offered few and far between.

I know it’s hard for the colleges to make apprentices pay and not lose money on these young people but where are young people going to go if they can’t go to learn these important skills in higher education in Dorset? University is not the right option for everyone, and neither is going straight into an office or a factory. Keeping these real hands-on, practical skills alive and fulfilled is crucial to the UK food economy.

We are still using lots of seasonal game in our cooking and catering, with nothing going to waste. This is a key priority here at the butchery and at The Langton Arms. Every week delicious game is being turned into sausages, burgers and game pie mix for the pub menu, which then in turn can be turned into tasty dishes for eating at home. These are sold at our farm shop.

There are still plenty of delicious vegetables at their seasonal best in February. I love roasted root vegetables best of all. February is still such a cold month (the old farmer’s Almanac) so get those slow cookers out and into action and enjoy the magic of slow cooked stews & casseroles after a long day at work or college.

Barbara Cossins

Love Local Trust Local www.lovelocaltrustlocalawards.co.uk

Rawston Farm Butchery www.rawstonfarmbutchery.co.uk

The Langton Arms www.thelangtonarms.co.uk