DWN Te Awamutu Business Group
When the Te Awamutu DWN Business Group first started it was a stab in the dark. Lyn Johnson, who set up the Group with support from Denise Knop, wasn’t sure what to expect but was hopeful that the woman who came together would fund value.
That was three years ago, and the Group is going from strength to strength.
The Group has farmers as far reaching as Tirau to Waitomo to Te Awamutu, which means getting together once a month is a real commitment.
The Group now has eight members but are now looking to expand to 12 to 14 members.
Meet Lyn Johnson, Angela Vincent and Aimee Wilson. Lyn, who emigrated from the UK 26-years ago, is the founding member of the DWN Business Group in their area and farms in Te Awamatu. Ang has farmed out Waitomo-way for the last 27-years and Aimee has been farming on the outskirts of Te Awamutu for the last 11-seasons.
When they started approaching women to join the Group, they got responses that it was ‘out of their league and they had nothing to contribute’.
“But it’s really not. We all feel that way but getting together and sharing what’s happening in our lives, it’s cathartic and supportive. There is no expectation that anyone has to share, but we’ve noticed that as people get to know each other and build trust, it happens naturally. I think that’s because it’s a safe environment and everyone knows that what’s said in the room, stays in the room”, says Ang.
The smaller Group numbers allows them to have informal chats and pick each other’s brains.
Lyn says ‘We’re at different stages of our careers, with some in their first ten years of farming, and some of us who have been doing it for 30-years. I got involved to meet awesome people and talk cows and grass. Farmers learn from farmers.”
“The wonderful thing about the Group is that we decide what’s relevant to us and what we want to learn about. It becomes really applied to what we’re doing on farm. Although some of the most fun field trips have been when we visited the berry and sheep farms and could compare other sectors to dairy. I walked away thinking how much I love dairying”, says Aimee.
The Group have invited a range of speakers to share their knowledge on different topics, so the Group can learn and engage. These range from Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, Ballance’s ‘tools to support our business’, Waikato Regional Council and National MP Barbara Kuriger.
They reflect that getting off their farm, and catching up on other members farms is a great motivator.
“It’s so easy to get stuck on farm. Or if I attend a discussion group then I often just sit listening to a speaker. The DWN Business Group means you get to ask questions of the more experienced farmers and be around young people and their energy and ideas”, says Ang.
Ang says having quit teaching to raise and family and become a full-time dairy farmer, it’s the cows and the outdoors that she really loves. “Dairy farming creates a place where you can have a family, raise your kids and be together. All four of us have done it together”.
Aimee reflects her motivators are very similar. Having grown up on a farm it was a no brainer to stay farming. “It’s in the blood and I love the cows and the grass.”
“I come to the DWN Business Group to mingle with like-minded people. The Business Group has definitely expanded my knowledge and given me new ideas but what I really love is being with the other Group members. I don’t mind what we are doing for the day, it’s just nice to be off the farm and connecting with people. I enjoy walking into a room and knowing everyone there”, says Aimee.
Ang reflects that women may have different views; they communicate differently and are often chattier. “It’s a relaxed, welcoming, friendly and safe environment. No two farms are the same and no two farmers are the same. We are inclusive of all different backgrounds and levels of experience”.
“Everyone is welcome and if you don’t know anything about the Group, just give it a go. It’s not a huge time commitment; one meeting a month. If you want to do something, then you make time. And if you’re reading this and want something similar, then it’s easy to set up your own Group and all of us are happy to support you do that. So go on, set up your own Group or join ours!”