National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

11 June 2020

Despite the mounting challenges for the agricultural sector young farmers shared their optimism for the future in an online session hosted by NFYFC at Cereals Live2020.

The evening webinar called What’s on Your Mind? was the final online session of a two-day Young Farmer programme that had been developed in conjunction with YFC AGRI for Cereals.

Chaired by YFC AGRI Chairman George Baxter and supported by Vice Chairman Tom Pope, the discussions involved presentations from Suzy Deeley from RABI and Joe Stanley, a trustee of the Henry Plumb Foundation.

Joe, a third generation mixed lowland arable and beef farmer from Leicestershire, outlined the funding and mentoring support available through the Henry Plumb Foundation for those eager to get on in the sector. When asked about the pressures of Covid-19, alongside the uncertainty of Brexit, a new Agricultural Bill and the introduction of ELMs, Joe admitted it was a “volatile” period for farming but that young farmers gave an overwhelming impression of optimism.

“Meeting other farmers – we’re all can-do people. The shape of farming is going to change and that’s probably to be welcomed in our increased emphasis on the environment.

“We are going to have to fight hard for it and put our arguments forward. I am sure we will win through and have a strong dynamic industry,” said Joe.

Weather conditions and loss of income due to the pandemic are issues that RABI is expecting to impact on farmers as the year progresses. Suzy Deeley from the charity detailed the support they offered and new projects on the horizon – including an online counselling service.

“Covid is going to be a big problem but we encourage people to call,” said Suzy. “We are often thought of as the last port of call but we don’t want to be seen that way. The earlier we can start having a conversation, the better the outcome.”

Suzy also highlighted the impact the pandemic was having on the charity’s ability to fundraise with huge losses predicted this year. 

YFC AGRI Chairman Tom Pope from Somerset FYFC talked about the impact the lockdown was having on YFC and highlighted how young farmers have adapted.

“Being such a social organisation, it has been difficult,” said Tom during the session. “We have learnt a lot from having to do things online. There are some massive positives. It can be onerous as a County Chairman [for example] because of all the meetings you have to go to, which completely takes over your life. Being able to do the odd meeting online has made us realise it can work this way.

“We have also been having regular catch ups with the YFC AGRI group which is good for checking in on people who are feeling lonely. We have evolved into the new situation as young farmers do. But it would be great to get back to the new normal soon.”

With Covid-19 forcing the Cereals event online, organisers have found it has appealed to a new audience. The average online attendance over the two-day virtual event was 20 years younger than those who usually attend the physical outdoor event. Future Cereals events look likely to include more online sessions – a positive step for those who are unable to get to the live event.

For more information about the support available from the Henry Plumb Foundation visit here and for more information about RABI, visit here. 

11 June 2020

An emotive painting showing a young boy trying to touch the hand of an older relative through a window won the YFC Isolation Art Challenge in the 17 and over category at NFYFC’s Challenge Finals Day.

Mary-Ann Screech from Launceston YFC in Cornwall used acrylic on canvas to paint the scene that was inspired by her work as a nurse in a community hospital. 

“Before lockdown came into force, when hospitals were closed to visitors, we did have patients’ relatives standing outside the hospital and talking on the telephone to their loved ones inside, whilst looking at each other through our dayroom windows and holding their hands up to the glass,” explained Mary-Ann who loves arts and crafts projects.

“I wanted to paint something that helped to remind people why we are isolating when we may forget through fear or frustration. Pure and simple – for the love of our families and friends, to protect each other but to also show that we aren't alone. It’s important to remember that even though we may not be able hug each other we can still be there for one another and that’s why I decided on this scene.”

The boy in the painting is based on Mary-Ann’s younger cousin and the adult is her father. While Mary-Ann lives near to several family members, they have all had to keep their distance from each other on their own farms as a few of them are shielding or at a higher risk.

The painting, which received the most votes on Facebook and Instagram out of the five art finalists in the art challenge during NFYFC’s Challenge Finals Day, is currently on the sideboard in Mary-Ann’s sitting room but she’s undecided where it should be permanently housed.

“I’m chuffed about winning,” said Mary-Ann. “But also I have been really touched from the reaction the painting has gained. I have had many messages from people saying how it has resonated with them and that has meant a lot to me.”

In the under 16s category of the art challenge, it was a silhouette cattle scene that was voted into the winning position.

Grace Lee from Bridgnorth YFC in Shropshire has been using her time in isolation to paint landscapes and likes creating sunsets with silhouettes.

“I wanted to incorporate the theme of farming into the one I painted for the isolation challenge so used livestock as the silhouette. I recycled a scrap piece of wood from the pigsty conversions on my uncle’s farm, sanded it down and painted on top of it with acrylic paint,” explained Grace.

“I really enjoy doing art in my spare time, as it’s a way of clearing my head and doing something creative. It’s also a good escape from the heavy science-based subjects I’ve chosen at school.”

The artwork is currently on display at home in Grace’s kitchen and she’s delighted that it was chosen as the winning artwork.

“I’m honoured to have won the isolation challenge particularly as the other entries were very good. It’s nice to know people enjoy my artwork almost as much as I enjoy creating it.”

Both Grace and Mary-Ann have remained in contact with their YFCs during lockdown and have been taking part in local online activities – such as Zoom calls.

Grace said: “As much as the lockdown can be isolating we’ve still been able to keep in touch. At the beginning of April we worked together to create our loo roll challenge video which was great fun to film especially the clips of Bracken my Labrador that I put together.”

“We still have an active group chat,” added Mary-Ann about her club in Cornwall. “I am also really proud to say our members in club have been supporting each other and also the local community too by helping with collecting/delivering urgent shopping supplies/medicine.”

The YFC Isolation Art Challenge proved to be one of the most popular challenges in the recent round and well done to everyone who took part.

Check out the latest isolation challenges here. 

11 June 2020

It was the first time that Ruth Cooper from Cumbria FYFC had made a lamb stroganoff but the winning dish received the most votes during the YFC Isolation Ready, Steady, Cook Challenge final on the Isolation Challenge Finals Day in June.

YFC members were challenged with using a ‘bag’ of British produce to make a meal – in the style of the popular cookery programme Ready, Steady, Cook. Ruth chose the bag that included British lamb, asparagus and eggs. 

“I hadn’t made lamb stroganoff before but I had made a mushroom one a few weeks before the challenge. I slightly altered the recipe I had for that to incorporate the lamb into it and followed a simple egg fried rice recipe to serve with it,” said Ruth whose family got to enjoy the dish she made.

“I really enjoy cooking, it’s something I’ve loved from a young age. I try to cook as often as I can, whether that is my favourite dark chocolate and raspberry brownies or a chicken casserole for the family. I was so surprised when I got picked for the top five finalists, as I had seen so many great entries over the week – they all looked delicious. On the finals day, I was shocked to see so many people vote for me but I’m so thankful they did. I never thought I’d win, so I’m over the moon.”

As well as isolation challenges, Ruth has also recently enjoyed Cumbria FYFC’s virtual field day where all 25 clubs competed in a range of competitions. Ruth added: “I’m looking forward to things going back to normal but I’m just grateful that we can still compete in events like this.”

Lamb Stroganoff with Egg Fried Rice and Steamed Asparagus

Prep Time: 30 mins

Cooking Time: 30 mins

Serves 4


For the stroganoff

  • 500g British diced lamb
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 15g salted butter
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g baby button mushrooms, halved
  • 200ml crème fraiche
  • ½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce

For the egg fried rice

  • 250g long grain rice
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 spring onions, sliced

For the asparagus

  • 500ml boiling water
  • 1 packet of British asparagus stems, sliced ½ way up the middle.
  • A pinch of salt

1. Heat the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan and fry the lamb over a high heat for 2-3 minutes until well browned, but still pink inside. Transfer the lamb to a plate.

2. In the same pan, melt the butter and cook the onion, garlic and mushrooms for 5 minutes until the onion is softened and the mushrooms are lightly browned.

3. Meanwhile, cook the rice following pack instructions, then drain, spread it out to steam-dry and set aside.

4. Return the lamb to the pan and mix in with the vegetables. Then add the crème fraiche and Worcestershire sauce. Leave to simmer for 5 mins.

5. Fill a medium pan with around 2 inches of water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Put a metal strainer over the pan, so that it doesn’t touch the bottom.

6. Fill the strainer with the asparagus stems and cook for 5-6 mins or until tender. Top up with a splash more water if the pan boils dry.

7. For the egg fried rice, heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large wok over a high heat, add the onion and fry until lightly browned, around 5 mins. Add the rice, stir and toast for about 3 mins, then move to the side of the pan.

8. Add the remaining oil, then tip in the egg mixture. Leave to cook a little, then mix in with the rice – stir vigorously to coat the grains or, if you prefer the egg chunkier, allow to set for a little longer before breaking up and stirring through.

9. Once cooked, spoon the rice into a serving bowl. Drain the asparagus and add to the bowl. Spoon the stroganoff mixture onto the rice and garnish with some fresh parsley or sage.

11 June 2020

A flower-filled pair of old boots was voted as the winner in the YFC Isolation Green Fingers Challenge during NFYFC’s YFC Isolation Challenge Finals Day in June.

Winner Catherine White from Newton St Cyres YFC in Devon transformed her boyfriend’s leaky farm boots into a beautiful floral garden display using colourful pansies.

“I have seen similar displays at our county show and rallies and took inspiration from them,” said Catherine about her design. “It is a really simple garden project suitable for all ages, so would be a great one for younger members to have a go at.”

The boots, which are currently pride of place at the front door of Catherine’s home, are still in full bloom. 

“Since I was a young child, I have always been a keen gardener and spent many hours planning how my garden would look when I grew up,” said Catherine. “Needless to say a six-acre garden plan was a little ambitious and I’m not sure the seven-year-old me understood how big six acres was!

“I am over the moon to have won, not only because of the achievement but also knowing I have such fantastic family, friends and fellow members that supported me in the public vote,” added Catherine.

As well as gardening, Catherine has been busy with quizzes over Zoom with her YFC. Members of Newton St Cyres have also recently completed a 400-mile walk – the total distance to walk to every YFC in Devon.

“We smashed the 400-mile target, completing almost 525 miles. We are proud to have raised almost £1,000 for our three chosen charities,” said Catherine. 

Create a pair of “blooming” boots

Items you’ll need:

  • An old pair of boots, wellies or shoes (check with their owner first to make sure they’re no longer needed!)
  • Multi-purpose compost
  • Bedding plants (I chose pansies as they are cheap to buy and grow quickly, giving you endless flowers if you remove the dead-heads regularly). Lobelia or petunias would also work well.

Fill the boots with the compost and then make a hole with a sharp knife in the toe of the boot. Make a hole in the compost and add the plants. Water regularly and enjoy!

10 June 2020

A new survey launched by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) and supported by Defra aims to understand the key issues affecting rural young people today and their views on what needs to change post-Brexit.

The survey was officially launched at an online breakfast reception, supported by KUHN Farm Machinery, at Cereals LIVE2020 by YFC AGRI Chairman George Baxter from Cambridgeshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs.

This new research, led by the NFYFC and Rose Regeneration, aims to ensure young people living and working in rural areas, next generation farmers and land managers have the opportunity to highlight their key concerns around accessibility of skills and services. The results of the survey will help to ensure rural young people’s needs are recognised in post-Brexit rural policies and life beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking during the live session at Cereals, George Baxter encouraged rural young people to complete the survey, urging them that it was important for their future.

“The results from this survey can help highlight issues for post-Brexit rural policies as we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis.  So, make sure you take part and please encourage others to do so,” said George. 

He also outlined the role of the YFC AGRI group and highlighted the AGRI Ambition paper. The importance of mental health was also discussed and the impact that Covid-19 was having on the farming sector and young people’s study and work. George praised the recent YFC Take Time campaign resources that had been shared by the Youth Forum on social media.

With many people attending the morning session, George received positive feedback with Dr John Reade tweeting: “Great breakfast session from George Baxter @NFYFC at #CerealsLIVE2020 - lots of important points covered including mental health issues. Talking to others is very important. You are not alone.”

To complete the survey, visit here.

05 June 2020

NFYFC's statement about why Black Lives Matter and the role of the YFC community from NFYFC Chairman 2020-21 Dewi Parry

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May was shocking and has sparked protests around the world.

The NFYFC stands with everyone who is working to create a society free from racial prejudice and injustice.  Black Lives Matter.

As a member-led organisation, we welcome a diverse membership as it inspires an enriched programme of activities from club to national level. We encourage and welcome all young people aged 10 to 26 to join YFC, whatever their background.

But it is up to us, as individual YFC members and together with our clubs, to commit to valuing diversity and providing equal opportunity for all.

It is our responsibility – as the next generation, living at the heart of our rural communities and for many of those forging a future in British agriculture – to ensure inclusivity and acceptance prevail. It is our responsibility to ensure everyone has the right to be fairly treated and to feel valued. It is our responsibility as YFC members and active rural citizens to represent those values and to promote diversity and to stamp out discrimination.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of George Floyd and we remember all those who have been discriminated against. As a community, we implore all Young Farmers to stand up against racism and actively challenge discrimination.

You can download NFYFC's Equality and Diversity Policy here.


Designed by Kevyn Williams