24 Nov 2017

Learning on the Land

From Country Life, 9:46 pm on 24 November 2017

Six cadets are training to become farmers on a Salvation Army property in Southland.

In 1952 Edmund Jeff gifted his 2424-hectare Southland farm to the Salvation Army with the proviso the farm and its profits were to be used to teach agriculture to underprivileged youths.

Sixty-five years later the sheep, beef and deer property near Clinton has successfully trained dozens of cadets and given them a leg-up into the industry.

“The farm runs 18,000 sheep, 1200 cattle and about 1200 deer and all the stock are taken through, fattened and processed off the farm,” says farm manager John Chittock.

John and Liz Chittock have been working at the farm for sixteen years and have helped equip the cadets with the skills they need for a career in agriculture.

“We’re not here to babysit them, we want them to learn and we want to give these young people an opportunity”.

Jeff Farm provides accommodation and meals for the young adults who receive the minimum wage for their hard work.

They must also complete several Primary ITO unit standards, but getting the required 80 credits can be challenging.

“ A lot of them struggle, they know what’s going on up here (in their heads), but to actually put it down on paper’s very hard so we try and help them through that and we’ve got a very good tutor at the moment.”

Second-year cadet Jas Neilson is keen to go shepherding on a high country station once she has completed the course.

“I quite enjoy being out, I’ve grown up on the land and uni wasn’t my thing so I’m more of a 'get out there and do it sort of person'." 

Out of the profits, the farm pays a rental of between $700,000 and $800,000 a year to the Salvation Army and a large proportion of it goes into scholarships and youth programmes.