Chris Foster, West Melton Young Farmers club secretary with Hannah Cameron, a Young Farmers board member

Farmers’ national accolades

by Ann van Engelen

The West Melton Young Farmers club helps to connect young people in Canterbury and has won the national club membership award after quadrupling its membership.

The club was presented the award for membership growth after beating almost 80 other NZ Young Farmers clubs as part of the AGMARDT NZ Young Farmers Conference.

“We are stoked to have won. It is the result of hard work by the club’s former and current executive,” said secretary Chris Foster.

“Several years ago the club only had four or five members and now has a growing membership of approximately 20 people. We are all astounded that we have managed to expand so rapidly. Rebecca Legat and Laura Shaw have helped lead the turnaround.”

Chris is an apprentice auto electrician, who grew up on an arable farm near Kirwee.

“Our members come from a broad range of professions, and one of our mottos is that you don’t have to be a farmer to get involved.”

West Melton Young Farmers credits a number of factors to its success, including organising an annual ploughing competition, which attracts up to 200 people.

“We are really visible in the community and are always doing lots of fun, social activities including regular pot luck dinners at members’ homes, and it is great when we get to check out different farms.

“We also organise trips like go-karting and paintball, or just catching up at the pub. They are a great way for people to switch off from work for a bit.”

Chris’s tips to turn a club around and increase membership are simple.

“If your club is struggling to grow its membership, reach out to your regional executive, they are always willing to offer useful advice. We have also found it beneficial to speak with past members and older people in the community.”

The club alternates its monthly meetings between Rolleston and Darfield.