National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

The ‘you don’t have to be a young farmer to be a young farmer’ member

Stephanie Burch, Purton and Cricklade YFC 

While Stephanie Burch might not live in the heart of the countryside, joining a Young Farmers’ Club (YFC) inspired a rural passion that has influenced her professional and personal life.

Living in a built-up village just outside Swindon and never having set foot on a farm, YFC felt far from a perfect fit when her friends from Pony Club invited her to join Purton and Cricklade YFC when she was 18.

“At first I thought I shouldn’t really be there as everyone knew what a tractor was and how to milk cows and I hadn’t got a clue about any of those things! But I soon learnt that it didn’t really matter. It was come along and have fun regardless,” said Stephanie, who is now 25 and wishes she’d joined sooner. “Even though I hadn’t come from a farming background I learnt so much about farming. Even when I went to university, I joined the AGRIC society despite the fact I was still not a farmer but I just wanted to be around that sort of thing.”

It’s a lifestyle that Stephanie embraces through her photography business and art commissions, which this year saw her exhibiting at The Game Fair. Despite studying Psychology, her love of the countryside has drawn her into more of a creative pursuit.

“I used to just draw horses but YFC has sent me down a different path – the last painting I did was a picture of five beef cattle. My work has changed due to the agricultural influences in my life.

“You don’t realise how much of a back-bone the agricultural industry is until you appreciate the people who work there. In YFC you realise how many people take care of the beauty of the English landscape.”

Stephanie credits YFC for being her customer base too – and for giving her the confidence to run her own business.

“If I hadn’t have joined YFC, I wouldn’t have had any of the same friends I have now and I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go out and do something on my own. Competitions like Public Speaking really help with that – there’s nothing like speaking in front of a room full of 100 people to build your self-confidence.

“It’s having that network. A lot of my work is based on commissions and all my YFC friends have really supported me. About 70% of my income comes from my YFC connections.”

It’s a network that has led to her finding love through YFC as her partner, a local arable farmer, is also involved in a nearby club. And she is never in short supply if she needs a farm to visit to get photos of animals.

Mental well-being 

As well as Stephanie’s countryside obsession, she has always had a keen interest in mental health  – an issue she felt first hand while studying at Reading University.

“You can get stressed out running your own business and I dropped out of university for a year because I couldn’t take the levels of stress I was facing.  Going back home that year and being back at Young Farmers was so nice. It was great to be honest with people who were really understanding.”

This personal awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing is what drew Stephanie towards the Rural Youth Europe European Rally this year, which was focused on mental health.

“There have been a couple of incidents in the County in the last few years where people haven’t known how to deal with things and I think that YFC needs to champion looking after mental health in agriculture,” said Stephanie.

Keen to share the positive impact YFC can have on your life, Stephanie has instigated a new members’ night for her club for the first time.

“If you’re not in YFC it’s really hard to hear about it. I’m really keen to get people, like me, who are not young farmers into Young Farmers. If I hadn’t have known about it I don’t really know what my life would look like right now. It would definitely have a different social calendar that’s for sure!”


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