Monday, April 22, 2024

Farmlet test clinches Young Farmer regional round

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Gareth McKerchar of Pleasant Point is the Aorangi FMG Young Farmer headed for the finals.
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A Pleasant Point farmer is a step closer to winning one of New Zealand’s most prestigious farming awards after being crowned Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Gareth McKerchar was announced as the Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year after two days of fierce competition in Kurow. 

Now he gears up to take on six other regional finalists in the grand final, being held in Hamilton in July.

The weekend’s event was one of seven regional finals happening across Aotearoa between February and April. 

Details of what challenges would be thrown at the 20 competitors at the Aorangi event were kept under wraps. 

 “I’m stoked to get the win, my goal was to take out the trophy and earn a spot at the grand final,” McKerchar said.

“I had been studying in the lead-up to the weekend and gave it all I had, so it’s satisfying to see hard work paying off.”

An agri-manager at Ravensdown, serving the Waitaki Valley/Omarama/Twizel area, McKerchar made his debut in this competition after joining the Pleasant Point Young Farmers Club in 2023.

 “I’ve been involved in these events before, assisting with modules. After a few years watching contestants, I thought, ‘I can do this!’”

The Farmlet challenge stole the spotlight, offering contestants dedicated time to craft a miniature farm setup. Tasks included erecting fencing using a medley of fencing techniques, swinging a gate, plumbing a trough and k-line irrigator and planting a shelter belt.

 “I really enjoyed the Farmlet challenge – it meant you could slow down and focus on producing work that you knew you were good at,” McKerchar said.

 Samuel Allen, a member of the Pleasant Point Young Farmers, also made his debut in the competition and clinched second place. Marcus Frost, representing the Five Forks Young Farmers, secured the last spot on the podium.
 McKerchar is looking forward to competing at the final and will be using his network to upskill and build his knowledge.

 “It’d be great to visit the Waikato Bay of Plenty region and brush up on my knowledge of the area. It’s a diverse region so we could be tested on anything. I’m lucky to have a strong network around me and I’ve already had offers of people keen to help me prep.”

 For the third year in a row, James Clark and Jack Foster from Mount Hutt College were unbeatable, taking out the Aorangi FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year title for 2024. Meanwhile, the Duntroon School AgriKidsNZ team made up of 11-year-olds Leah Wilson, Olivia Strachan and Greer Neal were the 2024 Aorangi AgriKidsNZ Champions.

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