Calling Northern Ireland’s farmers

New leadership programme in Northern Ireland launches with bursaries worth £3,000

9th November 2023

Farmers in Northern Ireland (age 25-35) interested in regenerative agriculture are invited to apply for a trailblazing three-year leadership development programme, NextGen-ReGen 2024, launching this week. Helping farmers to develop their understanding of regenerative farming, challenge the status quo and increase their business confidence, this new programme is designed to empower those on the journey to a more sustainable future for food, farming and the countryside.

Starting with a five day residential course in a stunning location, participants will learn from a brilliant line up of experts. The £3,000 cost for each of the 20 participants will be fully covered as a bursary to help kickstart a widescale transition to regenerative farming in Northern Ireland.

Update 19 December 2023: We have recruited 19 participants and have extended applications until 5.30pm on Sunday 7th January 2024 to fill the final place.

At Belle Isle Castle, with the support of local and international regenerative farming and leadership experts, including Joel Williams, Heather Wildman, Ian Marshall OBE, Helen Keys, Chris Clark, Professor John Barry, Clive Bright and Bronagh O’Kane, participants will grow their understanding of practical regenerative farming and soils, gain business confidence, and learn how to develop a resilient and successful farm business.

David McBride, a farmer in County Antrim, manages his peat lands regeneratively.

Through expert tuition and farmer panels, practical field sessions, case studies, and peer-to-peer learning, participants will explore:

Regenerative Practice:

  • Rethinking Soil – Principles and fresh thinking
  • Holistic farm management – exploring the different elements of a regenerative business
  • Measuring and monitoring – techniques to achieve success
  • Transition farm case study
  • Ensuring profitability of regenerative farm business

Leadership Skills:

  • Systems Thinking
  • Achieving your own goals
  • Leading change
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Positive disruption

With the residential course followed by eight one day events over three years, the NextGen-ReGen bursary will empower the next generation of regenerative farmers to build a new community of practice.

The programme is facilitated by the Food Farming and Countryside Commission and generously funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. Food, Farming and Countryside Commission’s Northern Ireland Director, John Woods, said, “It is clear that farmers provide the solution to many of the biggest sustainability issues we face in Northern Ireland and must now take the lead. Northern Ireland’s unique agricultural challenges and opportunities need confident, young, innovative farmers equipped to run their business for a sustainable future. We aim to develop a generation of pioneers in agriculture who can work with nature to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss whilst profitably producing the highest quality healthy food.”

Applications close on Friday 15th December.

Further information

Who can apply?

The course is open to younger farmers from Northern Ireland aged 25-35 with a real interest in regenerative agriculture. Because the programme is building a leadership cohort across the sector, a small number of places will also be open to those directly involved in other aspects of the food supply chain.

How to apply

Download the application form below and send to The closing date for applications is 5.30pm on Friday 15th December. Following a selection panel, participants will be notified by 22nd December if they have been successful.


The NGRG residential course including overnight stays runs from 26th February to 1st March 2024 inclusive at Belle Isle Estate, Lisbellaw, Enniskillen BT94 5HG. Further dates for the eight one day follow-up events across the country, over a period of two years, will follow at a later stage.


Whilst the course is completely free to participants, it involves considerable financial commitment from funders. Participants will therefore be asked to confirm their full and ongoing commitment to the programme prior to attendance.

Main image credit: Moyletra Moileds