Saturday, December 2, 2023

Farm cards teach children

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What started out as a hobby making children’s hair accessories has turned into a thriving side business for south Waikato dairy farmer Michele Petersen.
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Four years ago the first-time mum began creating hair accessories like bows, scrunchies, headbands, hair clips and hair ties for babies and girls and selling them online.

By 2017 when it came time to teach her daughter the alphabet she decided to use words relevant to the family’s dairy farm, which her husband runs at Lichfield.

She began making educational, learn-to-write ABC cards to teach farm children the alphabet with letters they could relate to.

“I wanted to help my children learn their ABCs but I was over the whole O for Octopus thing. I wanted to make it relatable to our life,” Petersen says.

“I made them into cards like B for bull, V for vat, W for water trough and L for lamb.”

She came up with a bunch of new letter and word ideas then posted them on the Farming Mums NZ Facebook page to help fill in any gaps.

There she was approached by artist Sally Evans from Sally E Art who offered to do the illustrations.

Petersen had the cards printed and laminated so they could be traced over with a white-board pen.

The rest is history. She sold more than 200 sets of cards over the next two years and her business Mummy+Moo was well and truly established.

The 26-year-old has since expanded the business to include ABC playing cards and ABC posters, also illustrated by Evans.

The cards cover all areas of farming and are sold via the Mummy+Moo Facebook page and other farming pages on social media along with a couple of markets in Matamata.

“The children learn different things around the farm. It’s really cool when you take them out and they can identify things that they’ve picked up,” she says.

“My intention was to make it not just about dairy farming, but there’s dairy in there and beef farming as well.”

The Petersens live on his parents’ dairy farm, where they milk 320 cows. 

The couple now have four children – Lauren, 5, George, 3, Amelia, 2, and six-month-old Maeve.

She fits her business in around the children, usually putting in about 15 hours a week. Though she also helps with calf rearing during winter and spring she’s a one-woman band running the business and trying to balance everything.

Her cards and posters have been snapped up by farmers all over the country.

“I have people buying them to send overseas.

“It makes me really happy to know they’re going abroad.

“We’re sending a little piece of New Zealand out there. It’s cool to see they are selling and people want to teach their children about NZ farming.”

In August she helped raise funds for Kids in Need Waikato, a charity founded in 2017 by Linda Roil who collects donations of quality clothes and toys and gives them to children in need in Waikato. 

Petersen donated $2 from every purchase, more than $120 in total, to the charity. 

She also recently started making ouchie packs, rice packs designed to be stored in the freezer and brought out to soothe children’s bumps and bruises. 

Despite having to juggle children and farm work, she says she’ll keep making her children’s products.

She thanked the NZ farming community for supporting her business along with Michael who “probably thinks I should be doing more housework”.

“It’s not a huge income but it’s a little bit extra that helps buy things for the kids like clothes and birthdays.

“It’s testing at times when you have a lot on your plate but it’s really satisfying knowing there are children all over NZ enjoying what you’ve created,” she says.

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