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Archie Woodhouse: East Coast FMG Young Farmer of the Year

Written by
NZ Young Farmers

On any given day, you’ll find 22-year-old Archie Woodhouse working alongside his dad and brother on a sheep and beef farm sandwiched between Hawke’s Bay and the Wairarapa. 

“It’s just east of Eketāhuna,” he explains. “I work on medium to steep hill country that covers 1000 hectares, and the land is only 15% flat. I work up a sweat, that’s for sure.” 

“Lately, we’ve been finding ways to minimise environmental impact, whether that be around winter grazing management, strategically pulling stock in certain areas, or retiring other areas to be as profitable and efficient as possible.”
The South Wairarapa young farmer says it’s about working smarter, not harder.  

“Making these changes is about recognising the opportunity that where you can remove one area, you can intensify another.” 

Sustainable farming is his passion and the recent graduate says the time he’s spending with his family to talk constructively about the farm’s future has been great. Before working, Archie spent four years at Lincoln University studying for a Masters of AgriBusiness. 

“I think studying and working in other places has given me a different perspective on what I see as sustainability. It may be a buzzword in the industry, but it’s important that, as farmers, we’re doing our best to care for the land.  

“It’s about finding the balance, which is a great challenge.” 

Competing in the East Coast Regional Final was a different challenge Archie faced this year. He says while sitting down to do theory was familiar, he’s had to put his hands to work in preparation to outsmart his counterparts.  

“I’ve always worked on farms but being away at university...your hands aren’t as callous as they once were,” he laughs.  “Touching up on the practical skills for the last few months has been nice. Things like fencing and dealing with water, it’s been good to put those skills to the test.” 

Working alongside his parents, who bought the farm just before he was born, has helped him soak up some knowledge before the competition. Following in his father’s footsteps, he says it’s nice to be competing in the Grand Final, just like he did, thirty years later.  

“I’ve made a plan on how I’m approaching study and I’m well into a bit of theory already. I’m learning as much as I can, as there’s such a broad range of things that the competition can focus on.  

“It’s nice touching up on a bit of stuff I learnt at university, while learning new skills along the way. I’ve reached out to a whole lot of people who have really wanted to help me on my journey. I’m so grateful for that.” 

Considering he didn’t think he’d be back to farming so soon, his 6-month stint has been timely. After the Grand Final, Archie hopes to try something new, and find a position in the rural professional sector.  

“There’s some pretty exciting innovation and technology going on and I’d like to delve into that for a few years and do something a little bit different, before I go back to on-farm work and get stuck into my penultimate goal of farm ownership.” 

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Written by
NZ Young Farmers

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