Saturday, April 20, 2024

Future focus for on-the-go dairy family

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Gordonton’s Crawford clan make a habit of volunteering in their local community.
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Dairy farmers Josh and Emma Crawford love volunteering in their local community to help build a positive future for young people.

“We want all children to live their best lives and have great opportunities,” Emma says. The couple have four children and are involved in local school, sport and sustainability initiatives.

Josh and Emma farm in Gordonton, a semi-rural community about 20km from Hamilton’s CBD. They enjoy the mix of rural and urban life and want to inspire young people to become dairy farmers one day.

With all their volunteering, Josh says there’s never a dull day in their household. 

“We don’t sit around watching TV. There’s always something on the go or in the planning stage.”

Emma and Josh are working with others on a bush group project at Gordonton School, where students get out of the classroom and help regenerate the school’s native bush area. The children help with planting and fencing to enhance and protect the area.

“It’s all about bettering the school and the environment, and teaching children how to contribute to their local community,” Emma says.

Emma chairs Gordonton School’s Ag Day, where students bring their pets to school once a year to compete in fun events. Josh describes himself as the gopher and helps ensure everyone enjoys the day.

The Ag Day previously focused on farm animals, including calves, lambs and kid goats, and Emma worked with parents and teachers as a team to add new activities. Each class makes a product to sell on the day to fundraise for an activity the class would like to do.

There are also craft activities, baking, flower arrangements and miniature scenes. 

“We love seeing town and country kids get the most out of the day and learn from each other,” Emma says.

As well as being in charge of the financial side of the family farm, including budgets and accounts, and helping milk the cows, Emma works part-time as a learning assistant and relief teacher. 

She is treasurer of the Taupiri junior rugby club committee. Josh previously coached rugby and hopes to get back into it when he’s less busy on the farm.

“It’s great to have variety in our lives and we have met so many people in our community through volunteering,” Emma says.

Josh Crawford with his son Brae, who he hopes will one day be a farmer too. 

Josh is encouraging young people to consider farming and rural communities for their future as a great lifestyle. 

Working with DairyNZ, the couple regularly host students from Hamilton’s Wintec | Te Pūkenga technical institute. The students take part in practical activities and have the opportunity to consider if farming is for them.

Josh has lived both in town and the country and sees the bright sides of both. He and Emma now lease the family farm from his parents, Dave and Sue Crawford. The couple also lease the farm next door, as they work towards owning their own farm.

After leaving school, Josh did an engineering apprenticeship and worked as a stainless steel fabricator in Hamilton for about six years, building milk silos and tankers for the dairy sector.

“I loved working in the city but the call of the country was so strong, I convinced Emma rural life was the way to go. Farming is our future,” Josh says.

The couple call their four children their farming buddies. Madi, 10, has a great bond with the cows and Alex, 8, loves helping to bring them to the cowshed to be milked.

Reid, 6, is constantly on the move and reminds his parents of what’s coming up in the family diary. Brae, 2 in April, has a passion for tractors and diggers and loves everything to do with the farm. Josh and Emma have high hopes their children will carry on the farming tradition.

“We hope our children will volunteer in their communities in the future. We know that the more you give, the more you get back. People never hesitate to give us a hand if we need it,” Josh says.

The couple are passionate about mental health. “We believe it’s really important to get off the farm from time to time and get involved in other activities, whether it’s camping, sport, recreation or getting involved in your local community,” Emma says.

“We encourage people to talk to others if they’re going through challenges and to ask for help when needed. You might be surprised how much people step up to help you out and it’s better than going it alone. That’s what community is all about,” Emma says.

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