National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

20 April 2020

Young Farmers’ Clubs across England and Wales have been supporting their local rural communities during the Covid-19 outbreak.

From delivering essential groceries and collecting prescriptions to walking dogs and checking in on the most vulnerable, YFCs have stepped up.

Shaftoe YFC in Northumberland started off with leaflet drops to let everyone know that they would be able to help and also joined forces with a Covid-19 volunteering group.

Club Secretary Amy Little said: “When the tighter restrictions came in, we could no longer work together in a group and had to provide individual support. I am currently looking after around five people by fetching groceries and prescriptions for them.”

The club is also organising a weekly FaceTime chat to keep all their members connected while in isolation.

Members from Newport YFC in Shropshire have also been busy delivering groceries in the local area and even delivered Easter cards to offer some festive cheer.

Club Secretary Sarah Phillips did an interview with BBC Radio Shropshire to promote their activities and told listeners that the club are eager to give something back to the community.

“We are picking up prescriptions or essentials. I picked up some Easter eggs for a family too, as their mother is vulnerable to the virus. We also handed out Easter cards that we had all made, so our local community all know we are thinking of them at this time.”

Members from Wragby YFC have supported a local food bank set up by a community group in their area while clubs in Montgomeryshire have also been rallying round their local communities. 

YFCs are also working hard to support their own members during the crisis with online challenges, virtual committee meetings and quizzes.

And fundraising support is also going strong with ‘at home’ events happening in Yorkshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire to raise money to support the health services.

What have you been doing with your YFC to support your rural community? Please contact media@nfyfc.org.uk to share your stories. 






20 April 2020

Events may be over for the time being but YFC members are proving where there’s technology, there’s still a way to enjoy some of those activities online.

YFCs are having virtual club meetings, setting social media challenges and hosting online quizzes just to keep members connected during these long days of isolation.

Some counties have gone one step forward and are hosting virtual rallies. With their popular event having to be cancelled due to Covid-19, Staffordshire found a way to host it in a new format – and one where members could participate from home.

There are 16 classes open to junior, intermediate and senior members including decorating a pair of wellies, a farm animal canvas and a photo of being stuck in the mud.

County Organiser Julia Taylor said: “It’s an alternative kind of Rally, but it helps to keep our members focused on creative activities and fun.  We cannot wait to see their obstacle course videos!”

Staffordshire has also been encouraging its members to share their skills too through online demos. YFC member Emily Cartmail hosted a live cake decorating session to teach members how to ice cakes.

When Devon FYFC’s popular Show and Sale had to be cancelled due to the virus, organisers set about finding an alternative way to hold the event. Not wanting to waste all of the effort members had put into rearing and preparing their stock for the big day, the county decided to host a Virtual Livestock Show on the 29 April with the support of its sponsor Kivells.

Members are invited to send in photographs of their stock to be judged by the Kivells team. While the stock will not be sold following the show – they are anticipating record numbers to take part and looking forward to awarding the supreme champion.

Helen Bellew, Devon FYFC’s Agri Chairman, said: “It’s so important to run competitions like this during this time to keep some sense of normality for our members. We are hoping that our virtual show will give members a focus and help to keep the YFC spirit alive! Prior to Covid-19, a lot of work had gone into picking the right animals, feeding and halter training, therefore we are delighted to be able to give members the opportunity to showcase their efforts.”

At a national committee level, NFYFC’s steering groups have been holding regular catch ups to discuss new programmes of work and helping to plan YFC at Home.

The Youth Forum got together on a Zoom meeting to discuss future plans and projects and enjoyed the experience.

Ruth Cooper said: “Having online meetings has been a brilliant way for the Youth Forum members to keep in touch during this difficult time. We had a great level of participation from members, keeping us all informed of the different challenges and activities going on across the country. It’s a great way to keep in touch and remind members that we’re all in the same boat and that we’re there for each other if any one needs a chat.”

What is your club doing to stay connected during isolation? You can share ideas with NFYFC here in our online form.







20 April 2020

Hundreds of YFC members pulled on their aprons to prove their prowess at making sponge cakes in the first of NFYFC’s YFC Isolation Challenges.

Social media was flooded with proud posts from YFC members showing off their sponge cake triumphs – with not a “soggy bottom” in sight. And due to the popularity of the challenge, there will now be a 'Showstopper' Cake Tent at the Greatest Agricultural Online Show that will be hosted on the 2 May and NFYFC President Charlotte Smith will judge the entries. 

NFYFC’s baking challenge was a simple idea to encourage YFC members to do something fun while at home – and was a great activity for those home schooling at the moment too.

Activities such as these are also aimed at improving mental wellbeing as members can be productive and connect with others by sharing images of their final masterpieces online.

Sophie, 10, from Bicester & Islip Junior YFC in Oxfordshire, took part in the YFC Isolation Bake Off challenge by making a chocolate cake and piping ‘Stay at Home’ on the top of it. 

“With our county rally being cancelled, it was a chance to show off my baking skills,” said Sophie who is a keen baker and has also taken part in the Snapshot and Revamp challenges too.

“I think they’re great,” said Sophie about the new NFYFC challenges. “They’re a good way to see other YFC members’ ideas and to stay in touch.”

Tabitha Bradley from Witheridge YFC in Devon iced her sponge cake to create a pink bunny – complete with ears protruding from the top of the cake.

“I decided to take part in the YFC Bake Off because I enjoy baking and I thought it would be something fun to do. I decided to make a pink bunny cake, as it was nice and cheerful, and with Easter around the corner it seemed relevant,” said Tabitha.

“This wasn't a new challenge for me as I have made and decorated many cakes before. However this challenge encouraged me to think of new ideas and develop baking skills whilst in isolation. When I set out on this challenge I thought it would be quite quick and simple but after piping a small section of the pink icing I discovered it was going to take a very long time!

Tabitha said the challenges are a good way to encourage people to try new things and share their talents. 

She added: “These challenges also encourage people to stay busy and be part of the NFYFC community, which is especially important at this difficult time to ensure people stay connected.”

NFYFC Chairman Dewi Parry announces the following week’s challenges on his live updates with members on Facebook every Friday night at 8pm.

The top five entries from each challenge will be submitted to the YFC Isolation Challenge Finals that will be held during the Greatest Online Agricultural Show on 2 May 2020. The Showstopper Challenge requires YFC members to share photos of their magnificent 'bakes' on 2 May.

Find out more about the YFC isolation challenges here.  

  

 
 


20 April 2020

Supporting farmers with grain marketing decisions is still a role Luke Cox from Malmesbury YFC is able to fulfil in isolation while he’s based on the family farm in the Cotswolds.

What’s your job?

I work for Frontier Agriculture, the UK’s leading crop production and grain marketing business. As a farm trader I form close customer relationships with farmers to support their business in grain marketing decisions. I have customers stretching from Devon through to Nottingham, and I enjoy helping them to add value to the crops they grow by linking them with a variety of end markets for their grain.

Has the Coronavirus impacted your family farm?

The family farm in the Cotswolds has not been directly hit by Coronavirus yet, as the majority of work is carried out in isolation anyway and food production is rightly classed as essential work. Further down the line, however, I think the industry must expect the nature of how food is produced in the UK to change. Will the UK actively work to become more self-sufficient? Will consumers quickly return to eating out as much as they used to, now more people have had to cook more meals at home? It is too early to know what will change permanently, but the adaptations we have all made during this crisis could alter our behaviour.

What plans have you put in place to manage the possible impact of the outbreak?

As a farm trader, the biggest change to my way of working has been the transition to home working. There is no doubt that it is a very different way of working, but I am very fortunate that I am supported well by the company I work for in terms of technology and equipment and I have my own office space at home. I also don’t have anyone depending on me or to manage my time around, such as children. This has made it very easy for me to complete my normal work routine during the day, and then shut the door on my office at the end of the day to create a clear separation between work and home. In all other respects of my work, it is business as usual. I still look after my customers and provide them with the information they need, and our supply chain connections ensure we can deliver our first-class service in as close to the usual way as possible.

How do you feel about the essential role British farming is playing during the crisis?

Food production is essential, and if supply chains are disrupted as we near the peak of the coronavirus, UK food is likely to become even more in focus. As some products disappear off supermarket shelves due to panic buying or lack of supply, many local farm shops remain stocked with fresh, traceable food produced on the consumer’s doorstep.  There has been a noticeable and significant increase in appreciation for people in the NHS who are working around the clock to save lives.  Once the coronavirus crisis has ended, it would be great if one of the legacies is people having a better understanding of the countryside and role farmers have in UK food production.

Should the public be concerned about food shortages?

Britain’s farmers are still producing food, just as they always have. To protect that essential food production it is important that we all respect the land and facilities we use when we access the countryside, for example when we are out walking.

What ways are your YFC supporting each other?

Whilst the coronavirus crisis has restricted personal contact, the volume of online communication has significantly increased. One member within our club has organised a quiz once a week, where we all meet up on video link and compete for beer tokens once the pubs reopen.  Outside of Young Farmers I have been taking part in online quizzes, answering questions with friends over video as another means to maintain contact and support each other.  Both in a social sense and a business sense, the forced move to virtual meetings has highlighted the strong benefits of shorter, more frequent discussions, which ensure as individual groups we remain connected and look after each other.

If you would like to be featured in one of our YFC frontline profiles, please email media@nfyfc.org.uk. 


16 April 2020

Since being in lockdown, primary school teacher Victoria Boxall-Hunt from Newton St Cyres YFC in Devon, has been keeping busy by knitting baby hats for the local neonatal unit.

Q. Why did you decide to knit hats for the neonatal unit?

A. Knitting baby hats for the Neonatal Unit at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital has been on my ‘to-do’ list for many years. I’m a primary school teacher and since I’m now working from home most of the time, I wanted to do something away from my laptop but also something worthwhile and for a purpose.

Q. Has the knitting been a positive experience?

A. I’m not sure whether the unit is in greater need for hats during this time but I hope that it brings a smile to a worried parent’s face.

Personally, knitting these hats has filled my time well whilst isolating. After my first week of working from home, my eyes were hurting from the time I was spending on my laptop. This made me factor in breaks where I would do something away from the screen, like go for a walk, knitting or baking.

Q. Is knitting something you have taken up since being in isolation?

A. My grandma taught me how to knit many years ago but I hadn’t done much since so this is a new hobby since isolation began.

Q. Is your YFC managing to stay connected?

A. We’ve been trying really hard as a club to stay connected in these strange times. Over the past few weeks, we’ve done the loo roll challenge, quiz and bingo nights over Zoom and the Club Chairman and I are planning other activities, like a game of charades – we’re trying to think creatively! I also recently sent messages to each individual member to check how they are and to encourage them to get in touch with a member of the committee if they need anything.

Q. Do you feel proud to be supporting the NHS at this time?

A. I’m very proud to support the NHS, even more so now due to Covid-19. My mum, sister and many friends work for the NHS and my dad runs a care home – this makes it all the more personal and special.

I would urge all YFC members to do what they can to help during this national crisis. This could be simply doing your job, like producing good quality, British food! If you have some spare time like me, then get your creative hats on and use your skills to do something good. Stay safe everyone. 


14 April 2020

An isolation challenge set up by a Young Farmers’ Club in Wales raised more than £6,000 for the local Intensive Care Unit on Easter Monday after their members walked the distance from Holyhead to Paris – and back again!

Gwenyth Richards, Vice Chairman of Pontsian YFC in Ceredigion, was inspired to do the fundraiser after both her parents recently recovered from Covid-19.

“My dad was treated in A&E and luckily didn’t need the ICU,” said Gwenyth who organised the event in a week. “I wanted to do something to show our thanks and also to bring the club together as we are unable to meet at the moment.”

Gwenyth asked everyone to walk, run or do some other form of exercise, in their garden or when out on their daily exercise, and record the miles they had covered. In total, 140 people took part in the activity, which included members of the club, siblings, parents and grandparents.

“We had intended to walk 218 miles from Holyhead to Cardiff but in the end the combined efforts meant we had made it to Paris and back again, with a few more miles to spare – a total of more than 1100 miles!”

The club set up a Just Giving page where people could leave donations in support of their efforts.

“I was amazed,” said Gwenyth who spent the day posting members’ photos and videos on social media to motivate everyone. “We were hoping to raise around £2,000 but by lunchtime we had already reached more than double that amount!”

The fundraiser also caught the attention of some famous faces too, who recorded messages of support that Gwenyth shared on the club’s social media accounts. Messages included those from classical singer Aled Hall and Steff Hughes from Scarlets Rugby.

Setting up the fundraiser involved two Zoom meetings and some delegation!

“We had a couple of Zoom chats and then I organised everyone on the Sunday night and gave people different roles. We had a rota and everyone knew what they were doing.

“It has been really special as not only club members have been involved but families too. It gave everyone something to do over the bank holiday weekend, which has been good for everyone’s mental health.,” explained Gwenyth.

Pontsian YFC was not alone in its fundraising attempts over the weekend though as Keyston YFC in Pembrokeshire also held a sponsored walk ‘at home’. The club raised more than £1,900 for Hwyel Dda (the local health board in Wales) after walking a collective 500 miles (the distance from Dogmaels, back to Amroth and then back to Blue Lagoon).

Club Chairman Eleri Bethan said in a video recorded on the day: "I am incredibly proud as Chairman of you guys in Keyston Young Farmers right now. All the effort you are putting in and staying safe, while also helping to support the community and those around you."  

You can still donate to the Pontsian YFC fundraiser here and the Keyston YFC fundraiser here.  

Is your YFC hosting a fundraiser? Tell media@nfyfc.org.uk so NFYFC can share your achievements.  


 


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