Two individuals have been announced as joint overall winners of a new Food and Farming Journalism Bursary, developed by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) in partnership with the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists (BGAJ).
Fiona Turnbull of Fruix Farm, Kinross and Jo Learmonth of Greens of Savoch, Auchnagatt, near Ellon both impressed the judges with their applications for the bursary which aims to encourage people to consider a career in food and farming journalism.
Fiona, who is married to Andrew and has three children, is a sheep farmer with an HND in Agriculture and a postgraduate Diploma in Agribusiness, both from SAC Aberdeen. Her interest in writing about agriculture was kindled at a very young age includes a farming column in the local Kinross-shire Newsletter.
Jo is married to Iain and has two children and is Farm Data Manager at Auchmacoy Estate and has a BSc (Hons) in Agriculture and a MSc in Crop Protection. She is also a partner on a 440 ha mixed farm near Ellon and volunteers for the Royal Northern Countryside Initiative.
Both Jo and Fiona share an interest in communicating the quality of Scottish food as well as farming and both have had stories published in the press.
The pair have recently completed the BGAJ/John Deer Journalism Training Award course and will also have the opportunity to take part in work experience with titles including The Press and Journal and The Courier.
The launch of the new “Food and Farming Journalism Bursary” was timed to coincide with the World Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) which is being held in early September this year. Jo and Fiona will take part in the IFAJ Congress in Aberdeenshire as part of their bursary award.
The congress will see more than 200 farming and rural journalists from around the world travel to Britain to learn more about its agriculture, horticulture, food and drink production and the application of leading technologies in livestock and crop production.
The main congress – which has the theme of “Innovations from a Small Island” will include visits to leading farms and food manufacturers in the north-east.
Carol McLaren, Head of Communications with QMS, said: “One of the aims of this award was to encourage aspiring journalists, writers and bloggers to help the public better understand the commitment, passion and skills behind top quality Scottish food – such as Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork.
“We were delighted with the exceptionally high standard of entries we received for the award and pleased that we have been able to give bursaries to both Fiona and Jo. We look forward to reading their articles in the press in the future!”
Jane Craigie, Chairperson of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists said: “The response that we've had to this bursary has been tremendous - and it shows how appealing a career in agricultural journalism is to many. Our winners, Jo and Fiona, are already very experienced in agriculture and I'm delighted that we have given them a stepping stone to pursue a shift in their careers to communications. The Congress will give them a fabulous opportunity to meet like-minded international professionals with a passion for food and farming; as well as benefiting from some further professional development in the skills of agri-journalism.”