Sarah von Dadelszen is like a lot of farming mums balancing the role of the farm, family and off-farm commitments. She finds herself taking on interesting governance roles in the primary industries as well as being a full time taxi driver, tennis coach and constant food provider to three busy boys aged 8, 12 and 14, and along with husband Sam, operates a 13,000 stock unit sheep and beef property and a 350 cow dairy farm near Takapau in the Central Hawke’s Bay.

Growing up on a sheep and beef property in King Country, agriculture has always been a part of Sarah’s life. On leaving school she headed to Massey University in Palmerston North where she gained a Degree in Agriculture. Originally wanting to get into the marketing side of the industry, Sarah instead became a consultant and then a Rural Bank Manager. While based in the Waikato Sarah met husband Sam who was also a Rural Bank Manager.

In 1998 Sam came back to run the farm, the fourth generation to do so. Sarah followed a little while later after managing to get a rural banking role closer to home. After doing this for 5 years, Sarah then came back to help with the farm when the two decided to start a family. With a team of dogs, Sarah loved being hands on. While this lessened once the children came along she still wanted to be involved in agriculture. It was during this time she started taking up opportunities to be involved in the sector off-farm.

Always one for making the most of opportunities, Sarah found herself being involved in community and governance roles which she really enjoyed. Starting out with the Central Hawkes Bay Consumer Power Trust, Sarah then got involved in the East Coast Beef Council. She later became the Chair of the NZ Beef Council and found herself involved in other governance roles including a term as an independent director of New Zealand Young Farmers and the Fonterra Shareholders Council.

“I’ve been really fortunate in Hawkes Bay that I have had the support from a lot of people in the industry who have put me forward for certain roles. It’s all about getting involved and doing what you can. I have found by doing this I have got to know some really interesting and a lot of wonderful Agri-business leaders. It also helps at times not to have two bosses at home on the farm all the time!”

This approach has proved to work for Sarah, with many other interesting opportunities coming up along the way. She was a recipient of a Food and Agribusiness Marketing Experience scholarship studying markets in America, Europe, China and Japan. More recently she gained a deeper understanding of the intricacies of global agri-business through attending at the Stanford University Business School with a New Zealand Primary Industry New Zealand Leadership Group. "It all increases awareness beyond the farm gate so you know what is happening and can adapt your business accordingly. It creates its own opportunities and networks of people for us. That's huge."

Governance is something Sarah has relished. At first Sarah’s philosophy was to say yes to all opportunities but now she is more considered with the roles she takes on to balance this part of her life with family and their farming business. “It is important to me to be available for every school trip - more so than taking on too many governance roles at this time. This means I can have a bit more flexibility when it comes to family and farm.”

Currently, Sarah is a trustee of the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) and sits on the board as a Director for
Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

We certainly need strong passionate AgWomen, like you Sarah, to put their hands up for roles in governance in the primary industries. Helping to lead the way and determine the future directions of agriculture in New Zealand. Keep up the amazing work.