Yorkshire agricultural college appoints first female farm manager

Chantelle Astley, the new farm manager at Askham Bryan College near York.
Chantelle Astley, the new farm manager at Askham Bryan College near York.
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A female farm manager has been appointed at Askham Bryan College near York for the first time in the higher education institution’s 51-year history.

Having previously nurtured young talent as an agricultural lecturer at the college, Chantelle Astley has now been given responsibility for developing the college’s two farms.

Farmland at the college extends to 280 hectares and is used for both livestock and arable farming.

Ms Astley is not from a farming family but her interest in the industry was triggered at the age of eight when she began helping a neighbour with milking.

“That was it,” she said. “I knew farming was something I wanted to do.”

After gaining a degree in agriculture, she qualified as a teacher then began farming with her husband near York where she is still plays an active role. Her connection with Askham Bryan College began in 2011 when she joined the agriculture department as a part-time lecturer.

“I love teaching; I’m passionate about British agriculture and am driven by wanting young people to get into it,” she said.

“Yes, there are obstacles and it’s hard work but it’s so rewarding. We need to be the best of the best, a shop window for the industry so we’re inspiring students both here and beyond the college gates that British agriculture is amazing, the finest in the world.”

Catherine Dixon, the college’s chief executive, said Ms Astley’s appointment re-enforces the college’s commitment to greater integration between students’ practical and classroom learning.

She added: “Chantelle brings expertise and enthusiasm to our farm management, which I am sure will be an inspiration to our young people.”

About 400 students are enrolled at Askham Bryan which runs courses in agriculture, engineering and countryside skills, from diploma through to degree level.