The Open Day at Plumpton College attracted excellent attendance throughout the day despite the inclement weather. Nearly 10,000 visitors from across the South East attended this popular family day out, which provides an excellent example of a working college.
The purpose of the open day is to demonstrate to visitors the many and varied work of the college and its courses. The day gives visitors an opportunity to see students at work and discuss courses.
Visitors watched sheep shearing, tractor driving machinery skills, cows being milked and working forges. Jewellery making, silversmithing, metalsmithing and copper work demonstrated only some of the facilities within the new Engineering Workshops. Metalsmithing students will be exhibiting at the Young Craftsman Competition at the South of England show in June. Exhibitions included student designs from horticulture, garden designs and fragrant, creative floristry. St Michael's Church within the College estate staged its annual flower festival.
Taste sessions included the award-winning Plumpton Estate wines, milk smoothies from the College's own herd of Holsteins, as well as college produced Cheddar-type cheese and rapeseed oil. Local foods and drinks at the food village offered more delicious choices.
Visitors were able to discuss Rural Business Training, as well as the wide range of hospitality facilities at the College. Pottery, stained glass, machinery, craft fairs, wood skills and floral art also attracted visitors.
Popular attractions included tractor tours of the extensive estate, gamekeeping, with hands-on student displays, the large College farm, the new library and campus accommodation, children's activities and hospitality facilities.
The glasshouses, Green Oak centre and floristry suites attracted many gardeners buying hanging baskets, floral bouquets, bedding and vegetable plants.
Forestry and tree climbing demonstrations included the mobile sawmill and elevating work platform. Estate produced charcoal was on sale. Plumpton College and its centres offer many forestry and woodland courses to accommodate industry needs.
The College Open Day is held alongside the Sussex Federation of Young Farmers' clubs annual show and many of the Sussex Young Farmers' activities featured during the day. Other displays included clay pigeon shooting, fly casting, small animals, livestock, a dog scurry, gundogs, falconry, gamekeeping, birds of prey, dancing horses and machinery parades.
Rural organisations at the open day included the South of England Hedge Laying Association and the South Downs Conservation Board.
The Sport, Outdoor Education, Department staged a variety of interactive displays, including a climbing wall, hiking display, canoes, mountain bikes. Students offered supervised tuition of the extensive outdoor adventurous activities.
The wide range of small animals on the animal care courses invited many course enquiries. Animal Management Foundation Degree students have recently returned from an education field trip to Mankwe in South Africa, one module of their study. A popular dog show was organised by students on the animal care course. The veterinary nurse training centre drew much interest.
The wine science centre attracted many volunteers keen to register for tutored sessions in wine tasting. Wine tours and wine tastings are now available in response to demand.
The Wine Department has developed an innovative, wineskills programme offering viticulture training for the UK wine industry. The commercial, on-site winery stages unique wine courses within Europe.
Shire horses offered carriage tours. Due to demand, courses are now starting for heavy horses and carriage driving. Equine events staged in the indoor riding schools entertained visitors with dressage, jumping and show jumping, drill rides and lunges. Equine events included a biomechanics and teaching display and musical drill ride. Part time courses at Plumpton College are now available on request and online: www.plumpton.ac.uk