31-year-old Lisa Kendall is a force to be reckoned with. A farmer, contractor, coordinator, and mother, the third-time winner of the Northern FMG Young Farmer of the Year knows a thing or two about hard work.
Now, as she prepares for the Grand Final in Timaru in two months’ time, she’s digging deep to give the Contest all she’s got.
“The last couple of years have been a bit frustrating – with 2020 being cancelled due to Covid, coming third place in 2021 and then placing second in 2022. I came back this year to get that win and now I’m on my way to the Grand Final.”
As an independent contractor, Lisa spends most weekdays on lifestyle blocks. Her work is varied – ranging from shearing to drenching, property maintenance or fencing. When her kids are in tow, Lisa says they’re strapped into the pram or backpack, helping mum and dad “chip away” at their 20-hectare “glorified lifestyle block” near Karaka, south of Auckland.
“Our small farm is actually the first sheep and beef farm in New Zealand to be SPCA-certified. I put in a lot of work to maintain that status. We’ve got shade sails in every paddock that doesn’t have trees, and we’ve done a lot of planting both for shade and waterway management.”
Building the pet goats a playground, and a lamb shelter insulated with sheep wool, are just some of the initiatives Lisa has made sure to implement.
“We’re really proud of the work we’ve put into it.”
Although Lisa wasn’t raised on a farm, many of her friends were, and in her last year of high school, she knew agriculture was her future.
She studied for a Diploma in Agriculture and a Diploma in Farm Management at Lincoln University before studying via distance at Massey University. After university, she worked on dairy farms in the Waikato and sheep and beef farms in Canterbury, before travelling and then returning home to set up her own property.
It’s been seven years since she signed up for Young Farmers, becoming a member of the Franklin Young Farmers Club in 2016. The rest, she says, “is history”.
She may be busy, but Lisa is trying her best to prepare for the Grand Final. It’s her last chance to take out FMG Young Farmer of the Year.
“I’m very aware that this is my last chance – everyone keeps reminding me of it!” she says, laughing.
“Whether I win or not, it will be nice either way. Whatever happens, I can be proud of the effort I’ve put in over the years. I’m going to go out knowing that I gave it my all. Obviously, I’d love to win, but if I don’t, at least I learned a lot in the process. The competition has been pushing me out of my comfort zone for years.”
She says the Grand Final is a great opportunity to get your passion recognised and build a platform to launch off – something she has done herself as a past competitor.
“It sets you up to make your mark and it gives you the confidence to put yourself forward with leadership and volunteer roles in Young Farmers or beyond.”
One of these leadership roles is working as Auckland’s Regional Coordinator for the Farm Environment Awards. Plus, she hopes to set up her small farm as an AgriTourism farm tour operation later this year.
“Sharing knowledge is something I’m passionate about, and when we’ve had school groups come through in the past, I’ve loved it.”
Lisa’s husband may not be into agriculture (except when he gives her a hand at the weekends), but she wonders if her two boys, Beau and Quin will follow her lead.
“I’m really happy they’re growing up with an understanding and respect of what goes into food production. I’m definitely not one of those parents who force their kids into anything, but they’ve naturally gravitated towards playing with tractors and diggers.”
“They love coming on the farm and helping me out. Plus, Quin, my youngest, has only got one word, and that’s ‘cow’. Hopefully one day they’ll be able to compete themselves, but for now, I’m enjoying showing them the ropes.”
For more information on this year's Grand Final, click here.
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