Young farmer contest makes for a good tale

SPINNING A YARN: In her recently published book, Kate Taylor shares her insight on the Young Farmer of the Year competition as well as the stories of many others who have taken part in the prestigious event, now in its 50th year. Picture supplied

Hawke's Bay freelance journalist Kate Taylor still vividly remembers the agony of crossing the line at the end of the gruelling agri-sports challenge in her only Young Farmer of the Year regional final.

Now she has produced a book about the competition.

“I was absolutely shattered that day. I totally get the mental and physical boundaries competitors push themselves to,” Ms Taylor said.

Using chainsaws, fencing, swinging a gate, scanning ewes and driving farm bikes and tractors were just some of the modules in the East Coast regional final she took part in at Dannevirke in 2001.

“I remember fighting with the fence. It was supposed to be five wires, but I only got two up,” said Ms Taylor, who was breastfeeding her daughter at the time.

Almost 20 years on, her book captures the colourful history of the prestigious agricultural contest.

In 50 Years Young: A History of the Young Farmer of the Year, Ms Taylor meets winners, finalists and organisers, and shares their stories of passion and commitment.

“The book’s full of personal stories about the dedicated people who’ve been involved with the contest since it began in 1969,” she said.

“Their passion for the contest and for the contest family has blown me away.”

Ms Taylor spent last year travelling the country, conducting interviews, taking photos and collecting information for the 288-page book.

“One of the highlights was catching up with old friends from NZ Young Farmers and hearing so many stories that could never make the book,” she said, laughing.

“I also loved meeting some of the people who have always simply been names on the back of the grand final programmes.

“One such moment was meeting up with 1992 winner Grant Catto. I have known his identical twin brother Warwick, who won in 1995, for 25 years, but I’m not sure I’d ever properly met Grant.”

The Young Farmer of the Year contest has been testing the knowledge, skills and stamina of the country’s food producers for five decades.

“Like many New Zealanders, I grew up watching the contest on television. The book has the same broad appeal to both rural and urban people,” she said.

“It’s not a farming book. It’s a snapshot of how the contest impacted on people’s lives, while at the same time, it reflects changes in farming in those 50 years, too.”

NZ Young Farmers, which runs the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition, has been a major part of Ms Taylor’s life.

“Every time I moved when I was younger, I joined a new club. It was a great way to meet people and make friends. I met my husband Thomas when I joined Eskview Young Farmers,” she said.

“When I was approached to write the book, I didn’t need any convincing to say yes.”

The big question is, what does it take to win the FMG Young Farmer of the Year title?

Ms Taylor puts it down to stamina, time management, building support networks, a wide general knowledge, the ability to think outside the square, technique and being prepared.

50 Years Young is published by Massey University Press and can be purchased from book stores and online.

Hawke's Bay freelance journalist Kate Taylor still vividly remembers the agony of crossing the line at the end of the gruelling agri-sports challenge in her only Young Farmer of the Year regional final.

Now she has produced a book about the competition.

“I was absolutely shattered that day. I totally get the mental and physical boundaries competitors push themselves to,” Ms Taylor said.

Using chainsaws, fencing, swinging a gate, scanning ewes and driving farm bikes and tractors were just some of the modules in the East Coast regional final she took part in at Dannevirke in 2001.

“I remember fighting with the fence. It was supposed to be five wires, but I only got two up,” said Ms Taylor, who was breastfeeding her daughter at the time.

Almost 20 years on, her book captures the colourful history of the prestigious agricultural contest.

In 50 Years Young: A History of the Young Farmer of the Year, Ms Taylor meets winners, finalists and organisers, and shares their stories of passion and commitment.

“The book’s full of personal stories about the dedicated people who’ve been involved with the contest since it began in 1969,” she said.

“Their passion for the contest and for the contest family has blown me away.”

Ms Taylor spent last year travelling the country, conducting interviews, taking photos and collecting information for the 288-page book.

“One of the highlights was catching up with old friends from NZ Young Farmers and hearing so many stories that could never make the book,” she said, laughing.

“I also loved meeting some of the people who have always simply been names on the back of the grand final programmes.

“One such moment was meeting up with 1992 winner Grant Catto. I have known his identical twin brother Warwick, who won in 1995, for 25 years, but I’m not sure I’d ever properly met Grant.”

The Young Farmer of the Year contest has been testing the knowledge, skills and stamina of the country’s food producers for five decades.

“Like many New Zealanders, I grew up watching the contest on television. The book has the same broad appeal to both rural and urban people,” she said.

“It’s not a farming book. It’s a snapshot of how the contest impacted on people’s lives, while at the same time, it reflects changes in farming in those 50 years, too.”

NZ Young Farmers, which runs the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition, has been a major part of Ms Taylor’s life.

“Every time I moved when I was younger, I joined a new club. It was a great way to meet people and make friends. I met my husband Thomas when I joined Eskview Young Farmers,” she said.

“When I was approached to write the book, I didn’t need any convincing to say yes.”

The big question is, what does it take to win the FMG Young Farmer of the Year title?

Ms Taylor puts it down to stamina, time management, building support networks, a wide general knowledge, the ability to think outside the square, technique and being prepared.

50 Years Young is published by Massey University Press and can be purchased from book stores and online.

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