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Set up for success with Smedley

Category future-farming

Max Fryatt on the farm bike with the herding dogs.Max Fryatt is just one of the many cadets who have passed through the doors of Smedley Farm. With 13 trainees accepted to the course each year, only the dedicated few who have passion and curiosity for understanding and learning farming skills are chosen. 

Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm offers a unique training course for young people across New Zealand to learn about every part of the business of farming.

More about Smedley:

  • Smedley first opened back in 1931 after being gifted to the Crown in 1919 by Josiah Howard to provide agricultural training to young Kiwi farmers.
  • The Cadet Training Farm is located in the Hawke’s Bay region of New Zealand.
  • Cadets learn in a range of areas from stock, working with sheep, beef, deer, horses, and dogs. They also learn some dairy experience, including breeding, mating, handling and mustering.
  • Cadets get exposure to working on tractors, 4WD’s, and ATV’s, and some mechanical repairs and maintenance work.
  • Smedley provides unique agricultural and farm training using accredited farming courses. The academic programme is delivered by EIT.
  • Cadets who complete all academic requirements will be awarded the Certificate in Agriculture Levels 3 and 4.

Recognising the importance of supporting future farmers into the industry, Rabobank is proud to partner with Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm and share the amazing story and success of Max to inspire future farmers.

Max is one of those lucky youngsters to gain work experience and skills while living and working on a farm. Max (24) was picked as a cadet in 2015. He packed his bags and checked in to Smedley where he studied and worked the farm for two years. Once he graduated, he attended Massey University where he studied a Bachelor of Commerce for three years, before being asked to return to Smedley where he now manages a block on the farm.

So what got Max interested in Smedley, and what was his time there like?

“I applied in year 13 at school. I knew about Smedley mainly through family and friends.  Then I went through the application process like everyone else” said Max.

Max was born in the UK and his parents owned a farm. Despite this, there was still plenty of opportunity for Max to learn new skills - including the Kiwi way when it comes to farming.

“In terms of knowing the farming experience here in New Zealand, there was nothing really like that. So coming here, I was pretty green in terms of never having used a handpiece before or putting up a fence - or anything like that."

Cadets are exposed to all the day-to-day activities and Max says it was great getting to work the actual farm.

“Whatever needs to get done on the day we were involved, we got a huge range of different experiences.”

“We actually learned about the working farm and then how to make money."

It was a steep learning curve for Max, but one that he really enjoyed.

“I really enjoyed learning how to break in the horses and dogs, and working with the stock. And also the people and staff. Some are now really good friends and stay in touch. They help you progress as well.”

When the opportunity came up to return to the farm in a work capacity, Max says he jumped at the chance.

“Rob rang me up and asked me to come back and work and be the Block Manager on Ridgeland’s. How could I refuse?"

Max is responsible for 2 cadets each week and the day to day running of the Block. The opportunity at Ridgeland’s is to introduce a young person into Management, getting them ready for their first manager’s job.

“It's changed a little bit but definitely for the better. The cadets get a lot more opportunities in terms of field trips.”

Having been through the training himself, Max says he’d recommend the Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm to anyone who is interested and although numbers are limited, that’s what sets it apart.

“Having a small intake each year means it offers a special training ability on the farm. It's just such a great opportunity for anyone who wants to go out into the agriculture industry.”

Learn more about Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm on their website.