The Hinds Young Farmers Club has been busy hosting social and interactive events for young people in the Ashburton region. Earlier this year, the Club revived a popular speed dating event that had been happening a decade earlier. Club chair and full-time dairy farmer, Abby Cook, 22, was inspired by her employer to bring back the matchmaking fun.
“On our Facebook page, we frequently received messages from people in Christchurch asking if we were doing speed dating anytime soon. My employers had been in the Young Farmers Club 10 years ago and it was known for that type of event, so with Valentine’s Day coming up we figured we could turn that into a timely event for speed dating,” shared Abby.
Speed dating & matchmaking
To keep it easy, tickets were sold at the door with tables for two set up in the room. A timekeeper was appointed, and one group remained seated throughout while a second group moved about when the 90-second round ended. Each person had their own match card and could record the name of anyone they were keen on.
Abby explained, “We didn't know how many people would show up. But we figured if there's too many, we can do different rounds so the more the merrier!”
With 85 people in attendance, the rounds lasted over an hour and ended with quite a few matches. People were connected after the event when the match cards had been paired up.
“It was a great night out for a lot of people in the region! You didn’t have to be single to come along or need to participate in the rounds. We provided courtesy buses back into Ashburton and to a local stop near the venue so people could get home easily. Some people travelled over an hour to be there! Afterwards, we received messages from people saying they enjoyed it, so we hope to run it again,” said Abby.
“There were a few matches made though I don't know if it turned into anything more than that. People are still talking about it now, which is quite cool!”
One of Abby’s favourite events to date was the Gumboot Games in January. Similar to primary school games, the Club organised a range of athletic activities with the likes of tug of war and an old-fashioned egg and spoon race. The idea was to invite other Young Farmers Clubs in the region to connect members and have some friendly competition for the day.
“A whole vanload showed up from Kurow, which is about two hours away! So to travel just for the day out with us was really cool. We had about 50 people attend from eight or nine Clubs in the region. Knowing these other Clubs are doing the same thing as us essentially but in a different area, you knew it was gonna be a good time. They're similar people to who you are already friends with,” she shared.
A busy social calendar
With a busy social calendar happening, the Club has already enjoyed a quiz night competition and teamed up with the Canterbury Young Professionals group to watch polo. There was also the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition that has been running all over New Zealand with Regional Finals completed in March. Coming up, there is a trip to Christchurch to watch a rugby game with the Pendarves Young Farmers Club. The annual general meeting for the Club runs in June, so the members are gearing up to run elections for the new year.
For Abby, having fun and being part of a social group is important, she shares, “when you live on a farm, it’s easy to get really isolated. Young Farmers is my way of socialising most of the time. It’s great to have something to go to that gets you off the farm and out of the house to meet new people.”
Being a part of Young Farmers reminds Abby of what it was like being in a sports club growing up. It’s where you spent a lot of time and made friends but she says, as an adult that often becomes your workplace, “it can be quite hard meeting new people, but Young Farmers makes it easy to get together and have fun.”
New members welcome
“We have a lot of members that are dairy farmers, or sheep, beef and crop, and also members that aren’t part of farming. Some work as a nanny, physio, and occupational therapist plus other types of roles. You don't have to be a farmer, just a little bit interested in the industry. Though if you are, it’s quite nice because people understand you don't want to stay late when you have to get up at four o'clock to milk the cows!”
Abby knows what it’s like being a newcomer to the area, and how daunting it can be to put yourself out there to attend an event. She first joined the Club last June after relocating to the area.
“I was worried that everybody would know each other and I’d be a stranger showing up. But at the events, it’s totally normal for new people to be there, everyone is used to new people coming along! Everyone was friendly and made me feel comfortable,” she shared.
Abby took up the Club chair role because she wanted a hand in planning the social activities. “I was quite keen to throw myself at the role. And straight away, we were tasked with organising the district-level competition for the Young Farmer of the Year. We try to organise an event every month - whether it’s a social thing or a fundraiser, so there’s a variety of things to do.”
Ensuring the events are welcoming and fun for members is important to her and the Club too. She encourages new people to come along and see what it’s all about. The Hinds Young Farmers meet monthly at 7pm on the first Tuesday of the month at Hinds Wayside Inn.
“If you’re really nervous about attending an event consider bringing a friend, because then you’re in it together but branching out on your own is a great way to chat with others,” she says encouragingly.
“Talk to someone, ask what they do for work, it’s such a small area that you’ll have a connection with someone straight away. We have quite a few new young people coming in, which is cool. Anyone aged 16 to 31 is welcome to attend!”
To learn more about the Hinds Young Farmers Club, visit https://www.facebook.com/hindsyoungfarmers
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