Coming from a background in agriculture and land management policy, Laois man Stephen Meredith was looking to develop his knowledge of organic farming.
The 35-year-old from Ballylinan, chose to study for an MSc in Organic Farming at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) because of its good reputation.
The fact the course was delivered part-time and by distance learning was another selling point.
Stephen, who was awarded the SRUC Trust Prize for best MSc student in Organic Farming, is continuing to put what he learnt to good use in his professional life.
“I’m from a farming background and have been working on EU agriculture and land management policy for a number of years,” he said. “I wanted to develop my knowledge and expertise on the practical side of organic farming and the course covers the fundamentals of sustainable agriculture and land management.”
The course is delivered from SRUC’s Craibstone campus in Aberdeen, with students attending for residential weekends several times a year.
“The residential weekends were really useful, not only to engage with the coursework, lecturers and other staff, but also to meet people I was taking the course with. We all came from different backgrounds, so we ended up learning a lot from each other.
“We also had the opportunity to meet a number of interesting people working in the UK organic sector and visit a variety of organic farms and businesses in Scotland too.”
On the social side, visits to Craibstone offered students the opportunity to take part in the annual Burns Night supper and attend a few ceilidhs.
In addition Stephen, who was based in Brussels throughout his studies, worked with an organic beef and sheep farmer in Belgium for a few months.
“It was a great experience working on the farm and learning about the farmer’s perspectives on organic farming, as well as contrasting it with our own farm in Ireland,” he said.