In a modern twist on the old farm cadet scheme, Whangārei A&P Society is developing a new live-in, on-farm training initiative to help grow future farmers.
The A&P Society has committed a seeding fund to establish a programme which will focus on providing job-ready Northland interns with the right skills and attitudes.
The society's president, Murray Jagger, said the Farm Intern Programme is a reinvention of former on-farm learning models.
The aim is for graduates of the two-year training scheme to come out with Levels 2, 3 and 4 New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture, and with practical experience and life skills that make them employable in the industry while also being ''good'' citizens.
''There's a whole lot of pastoral care that goes with this,'' Jagger said. ''The interns come out of it work ready, get paid properly for it and know how to look after themselves.
"The long-term aim is that the interns will be highly sought-after, competent and well-trained workers, just like the graduates from training facilities like Smedley, Waipaoa and Otiwhiti stations. Northland is sorely in need of a holistic on-farm training opportunity for its young people.''
Smedley, Waipaoa and Otiwhiti stations are in Central Hawke's Bay, Gisborne and Hunterville but there is no live-in, qualification-based training equivalent in Northland.
''It's the old farm cadetship model but we're trying to refresh it and make it more relevant,'' Jagger said of the new Northland scheme.
Each intern will live and work on a farm, working four days a week and coming into a group off the farm one day a week for classroom training.
Host farmers provide full board and lodgings, and include the intern as part of their family, in return for receiving a willing learner and farm worker. The plan is to have an inaugural intake of 12 interns in 2020 and 12 the following year.
Jagger said he was sure there would be no problem getting enough keen school leavers to step up, however the Farm Intern Programme was dependent on enough farmers wanting to take part.
A meeting is planned for early July to gauge support from farmers living within a roughly 200km range of Whangārei.
''I hope to see all interested farmers on July 4 so I can share all the details of this industry-led opportunity. As farmers we often struggle to find suitable farm workers – this is our chance to help train our own."
The scheme will focus on agricultural diversity, with interns getting work experience on a variety of farms while being based at only one.
Programming would take into account that dairying was more regimented than beef, for example, as far as timetabling went but, ''We envisage we can give the students a taste of everything''.
The A&P society already has someone with experience of past farm trainee programmes to develop and oversee the scheme, and ensure the pastoral care, training and interns' and participating farmers' expectations were met.
Interested farmers are invited to a meeting at Barge Showgrounds Events Centre on Thursday July 4, from 2pm to 4pm to learn more about the intern programme.
Anyone wanting to be involved in the project or to RSVP for the meeting is asked to contact Chris Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (09) 438 3109.