A Gore farmer who has always wanted to learn more about her Scottish heritage will finally get the chance in June.
Bridget Henderson, 25, is this year’s recipient of the NZ Young Farmers exchange with the Scottish Association of Young Farmers.
The highly sought-after trip is a dream come true for the Waitane Young Farmers member.
“I’m so excited. I’ve always wanted to visit Scotland, it’s where my family’s from,” said Bridget.
“We’ve hosted several young farmers from Scotland and I’ve been eager to experience the things they talked about.”
“People say there are strong similarities between the agricultural sectors in the two countries. I’m hoping there might be some useful practices I can bring back to our farm in Southland,” she said.
Bridget lives on her family’s 280 cow dairy farm 10 minutes from Gore and works at the nearby Farmlands store.
“I’m currently trying to gain as much knowledge about cropping, sheep and beef, dairying and grazing units as possible,” she said.
“My long-term goal is to become a technical field advisor or an independent farm consultant.”
Bridget has a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in farm management from Lincoln University. She’s also completed rural servicing papers through PrimaryITO.
Her family operates Southland’s first registered raw milk provider.
The herd is wintered on the 140 hectare farm, with young stock grazed on a support block five kilometres away.
“We do all of the harvesting ourselves. Supplement made on the milking platform and at the runoff is all done with our own machinery,” she said.
“I have a bit of contracting experience. I completed a harvest in Western Australia while I was at university.”
“It was a great way to see a different part of the primary industries in another country,” she said.
Bridget is keen to use her experience to help raise awareness of where food comes from.
“I’m surprised by how many people don’t know the pasture to plate story behind what they eat,” she said.
“I love seeing the reaction from people, especially young children, when you explain how products end up in their fridge or pantry.”
“It’s great to explain how cows eat grass, produce milk, it’s then processed, bottled and ends up in the supermarket,” she said.
Bridget has had a long involvement with NZ Young Farmers.
She was part of the TeenAg club at Gore High School and has been an active member of Waitane Young Farmers since 2012.
“I was part of the team which won the Otago/Southland TeenAg Regional Final in 2011,” she said.
“Competing at the Grand Final in Masterton was an amazing experience.”
Bridget will embark on her exchange to Scotland in June.
As part of the experience she’ll get to attend the world-renowned Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh.
“The exchange offers NZ Young Farmers members an opportunity to meet young farmers in Scotland,” said NZYF membership manager Casey Huffstutler.
“Bridget will get to stay with a number of rural families.”
“She will hopefully gain a broader understanding of agriculture in Scotland and the challenges faced by the country’s agri-food producers,” she said.
NZ Young Farmers will contribute $500 to the exchange.