National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

23 October 2019

Ellie Davis from Bedfordshire might spend her working day buried in spreadsheets but it hasn’t stemmed her creative flair, as the 25-year-old is the proud winner of the Floral Arts senior trophy.

Ellie, who works in the sales department for a fashion retailer monitoring stocks and sales, discovered a passion for floral art through YFC.

“I got into Floral Art through the County Rallies. Seeing how incredible all the other members’ designs were and then asking my mum – a former YFC floral art competitor – our advisory and ex-members for advice has led me to the national finals. I’ve had no formal training – I’ve just learnt from others and by making my own mistakes along the way,” said Ellie who competed at the Malvern Autumn Show at the end of September. 

“It was a complete shock to win as some of the designs were incredible – definitely inspiration for another year!”

Ellie’s category was tasked with creating a design using the theme of an invention that changed the world. After much Googling for ideas, Ellie chose ‘steel’ as her focus.

“I really wanted to think of something outside of the box,” said Ellie who admits the County round is extremely tough due to the talent in her local area. Using Calla Lilies and orange Pincushion Proteas Ellie used a bold design to show how steel is made.

“The flowers I chose showed the orange sparks that you see when steel is being made and poured into moulds. I was keen to use bright colours as they attract the eye,” explained Ellie about her design.

Ellie is no stranger to a national final though – having competed twice before. Back in 2016, Ellie won the Intermediate category but a year later and she was down to the bottom place in the same category.

“I attempted doing three designs in 2017 and I ran out of time creating it. I have since learnt that you need to practise a lot before competing. It can be expensive with the flowers but you need to time yourself and check that the flowers you have chosen will work. I changed some of mine when I was practising this year as I realised they weren’t going to work on the day,” said Ellie.

The Bedford and District YFC member has two more years of competing and is hopeful she’ll make it to the national final again. She also hopes that she has inspired others in her club and County to take part – even if they have no experience in flower arranging.

“I would never have dreamed I would be doing flower arranging before I joined,” said Ellie. “It’s a bit of a cliché but Young Farmers really does change your life.” 

It was another amateur floral artist who won the Intermediate category too. Katie Hughes from Clwyd YFC impressed the judges with the design she created to the theme of Great Craftsmanship.

"I based my arrangement on the craft of wool work," explained Katie whose only experience of floral design is from competing in the NFYFC competition for the past three years and getting to the national finals each time. "I used lots of plaited leaves, which replicated the process of weaving wool. I also used dried pine ones, which dried in a way that made them look like sheep’s horns."  

Katie who said she was shocked to win due to the standard of all the entries chose a design that was influenced by farming. "I wanted to do a craft that was relevant to farming and I felt this was the best one and I could do a good arrangement for this craft." 

Rhys Griffiths from Carmarthenshire was the winner in the Junior category after creating a design to the theme of My Great Hobby.

For the full results from the Floral Art competition, please see here. 

23 October 2019

It was an unforgettable summer for Steph Watkins who spent six weeks in Canada making friends and experiencing Canadian culture.

Did you travel alone?

I travelled with four other young farmers from all over Europe – including Austria, Ireland, Germany and Northern Ireland.

We stayed with host families organised by the Canadian JFAO (Junior Farmer Association of Ontario).

They all became friends – or you could say my new family. It’s bazaar how close you become to four people who were complete strangers six weeks earlier!

Was it enjoyable?

This summer has been truly unforgettable. Meeting both young and old people in the agriculture industry within Canada. It has been inspiring and I'm sure we have all taken some great ideas back home.

It's true to the stereotype that Canadians are all polite, all the Junior Farmer families have been so welcoming to us and I can't thank them enough – I will be back!

What did you do?

The days and weeks flew by! I visited Toronto, Durham West, Wellington, Peterborough, Renfrew and Ottawa and toured many farms and spent time with JFAO members. One evening I experienced s’mres – the proper way with marshmallows, gram crackers and chocolate.

I toured Hensal Co-op, which is where Branston baked beans are grown before being exported to the UK. I also saw a farm that breeds special cattle that can adapt to extremes of weather and exports embryos to Australia and New Zealand.

There were campfires and sunbathing and amazing Raclette dinners, where we would enjoyed special Swiss cheese prepared with vegetables on a racelette grill.

I also took part in a radio interview to explain why we were visiting the country and all about YFC.

I enjoyed an international Pot Luck evening where we all made traditional food from our home countries for everyone to try.

When I stayed in Renfrew we had a Barn Dance after the “RedNeck Games” which is the equivalent to our rallies.

Any highlights?

  • Canada Day in the capital – Ottawa! It was an amazing day and everyone was so proud to be Canadian. Most people were wearing white, red or a mixture of the two. We joined in going all out with red and white head to toe, hats, flags and a lot of temporary tattoos. We had a great day and a big firework display at night which was fantastic.
  • Axe throwing in Peterborough!
  • Niagara Falls was amazing and definitely worth the early morning rise to get there.
  • Cow patty golf – golf with anything but a golf club. It was fun to see what everyone brought from a squishy mop to a paddle. A great game idea for a new members’ night.
  • Seeing a live bear – I was surprised at how big it was and the fact it just casually walked across the road in front of us.

Would you recommend a YFC Travel trip?

I would encourage everyone to take up the opportunity of going on an exchange, as it certainly is a once in a lifetime experience. Being a delegate has so many advantages and you get to see so much more of an area than if you were just to go there on holiday. I have had countless new experiences, learnt so much about Canadian farming and way of life, met some fantastic people and made some amazing lifelong friends and memories!

The deadline for applying for 2020 YFC Travel trips is 1 November 2019. Find out more. 

23 October 2019

Reeth YFC in Yorkshire has been given a Special Achievement Award for helping to coordinate a clean-up operation following the floods in July that caused devastation in the Dales. 

The club were presented the award  by BBC presenter Harry Gration at the Yorkshire Post’s 2019 Rural Awards in Harrogate, which was attended by more than 200 guests. 

The club rallied more than 100 young farmers from clubs across Yorkshire and County Durham, who turned out to help re-build stone walls, collect debris and escaped livestock, as well as make repairs to buildings and fencing. Members, parents and friends of the club made sure the volunteers were fed, watered and had all the equipment they needed.

Georgia Hird, Secretary of Reeth YFC - who collected the award with Club Chairman Jack Stones - said: “The club was really surprised to be given such a wonderful award, it meant a lot to all of us.

“We are really grateful for the recognition of our work over the floods and we certainly couldn’t have done it without the help of neighbouring club, Wensleydale Young Farmers.”

Chairman of the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs Georgina Fort added: “Reeth Young Farmers’ Club are a credit to young farmers, to the farming industry and to the community.

Picture credit: Gerard Binks/The Yorkshire Post.

22 October 2019

YFC members are being offered the opportunity to receive professional training to help them speak to young people in secondary schools about British agriculture.

NFU Education Speakers for Schools programme is to help give secondary school students access to voices from modern farming and to challenge misconceptions and preconceptions they may have about agriculture in the UK.

The NFU recognises that speaking to a group of teenagers can be a daunting task. As it’s important that the key messages are delivered professionally and concisely the NFU is working with teacher training expert Paul Taylor McCartney to deliver a bespoke training programme.

The training includes: 

  • Creating an ‘own pen picture’-teaching farmers how to tell their own story
  • Farming Myth Busters - an introduction to the NFU’s newly created 'Farming Myth Busters' slide deck
  • Teaching farmers to develop their presentation style when talking to a large group
  • Teaching farmers to develop a basic understanding teaching & learning styles (pedagogy) to ensure an audience remains engaged
  • Chances to develop confidence and work together with peers to prepare their presentation.

The NFU is asking prospective speakers to commit to three things:

  1. To deliver a minimum of two speakers for schools assemblies in 2020 - travel expenses will be paid for these events
  2. To attend a one-day training session in November 2019 - Leeds 25 November/Coventry 26 November/London 27 November - travel expenses will be paid for this event
  3. To agree to work towards the newly created NFU speaker standards - these will be introduced as part of the training session.

To sign up speakers will need to email Joshua Payne confirming the session they wish to attend.

Speakers will also need to be NFU members but interested YFC members can sign up to student and young farmer membership which is free of charge.

The NFU’s Speakers for Schools programme is another way that organisations like NFYFC are helping to spread positive messages about food and farming.

Last year NFYFC launched the Future Farming module which now features on the Countryside Classroom website and helps educate more young people about careers in agriculture. 

22 October 2019

YFC clubs and counties are being urged to submit the results of their fundraising efforts for the membership year 2018-19 so they can be considered for one of two NFYFC trophies.

The Lionel Hill trophy and The Prince of Wales trophy are awarded to the YFC Club and County respectively that have raised the greatest amount of funds per member for charitable purposes over a 12 month period.

The trophies will be presented at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in May 2020. Dartmouth YFC and Essex FYFC were awarded the trophies for their achievements in 2018 at the 2019 AGM.

Dartmouth YFC raised £17,000, with 18 members, meaning they had raised an impressive £944.44 per member.

Essex FYFC raised a total of £39,106.08 with 367 members, meaning they raised £106.56 per member.

The County’s winning formula, said last year’s County Chairman Jack Garwood, is the hard work the clubs put in to support those less fortunate than themselves.

“We all have a great time as Young Farmers and are pleased to be able to put a little back into something else we love,” said Jack. “All the clubs choose a mixture of national or local charities – causes that are close to their hearts.”

NFYFC received 14 County entries for the Prince of Wales Trophy last year, and the total raised from those counties was £489,478.84.

If every County Federation returned the details of their charity fundraising, NFYFC estimates YFCs raise in excess of £1.2m for charity.

Entries should be sent to Sandra Bromley before the closing date of 15 November 2019. 

22 October 2019

As YFC members have ordered more than 9,000 sapling trees to plant this November as part of the Protect Your Future campaign, it's worth getting tips on how to plant a tree.

From supporting local community projects to taking part in the National Tree Charter Day on 24 November, members from more than 60 clubs and counties are getting involved. Members of Wedmore YFC have already planted their first sapling at a local school during National Young Farmers' Week and have larger planting projects organised for November.   

As sapling tree orders will be arriving now, it’s wise to follow the advice from The Woodland Trust on preparing for planting.

Storing saplings 

The Woodland Trust advises storing the trees upright, sheltered from frost and wind. If the roots look like they’re drying out, lightly spray them with water to keep them moist.

Prepare Your Site

Work together with your site provider to decide where to plant the trees.

Before you start planting, mark out where each tree will be placed using stones, spray paint or canes

If your planting area is overgrown, cut the grass short and weed. This will make planting easier and reduce competition for water, helping your saplings to thrive.

How much space do trees need?

The Woodland Trust recommends trees are planted about two metres apart, but you can plant them one to five metres apart depending on your space and plan.

Wavy lines look more natural than regimented rows of trees. If you’re planting a single hedge, place your trees 30cm apart. For a thick hedge, plant a double row of trees in a zig zag pattern. Space your rows 50cm apart, with 40-45cm between each tree.

The Woodland Trust also has advice on the different types of planting – Pit planting, Silt planting and T-notch planting. Find all the information you need here. 


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