Helen Andrews feels she is a truly committed AgWoman and we couldn’t agree more. She is not only a mother to two beautiful girls (Honour 10 & Eve 8), she is also a beef & pork producing farmer, director and what she describes a chief ‘Shovelor’.
Helen was born into dairy farming family in Yorkshire, England. She grew up wanting to pursue a career in veterinary science until the age of 16 and enjoyed maths and science. However, during the school holidays of her 16th year she convinced her father to let her milk his cows as the position had just become vacant. Helen absolutely loved it and even with 80 hours’ weeks as a deterrent that was it, she knew she was going to become a farmer.
At 21 Helen travelled to NZ to milk more cows as part of her OE and 6 weeks before returning to the mother land she met her husband in ‘sunny’ Southland. He followed her back to Yorkshire for a year before they returned permanently to NZ. They felt the need to own some dirt so they could settle so in 2004 the couple added up their reserves, a mortgage and a bit of family IOU and bought 40ha of bareland in South Canterbury. This is where a 300 sow outdoor pig farm producing and selling weaners started. In the last 14 years they have added their two daughter, a family home, more land, more sows, cattle and last year a pig finishing unit.
The Andrews family farm 136 hectares, winter 500 cattle, 400 hundred outdoor sows and finish approximately 8500 pigs.
Governance started for Helen 10 years ago sitting in a hotel lobby as a “travelling reserve pork industry regional delegate” breastfeeding her daughter quickly so she could find out what it was that she could help with. A friend brought her back periodically through the day so she could fulfil her mother duties. Helen says she sat and listened to the then Minister of Agriculture tell our industry it “was time we got our act together. Sow stalls needed to go and an acceptable standard of food production within our industry was needed”.
Since then Helen says they have as a farmer been involved in welfare, environment and industry audit standards to name a few. While she admits she is not politically motivated, she is absolutely passionate about the need to be help others to understand what they do, why they do it and how they need to it with the end goal being minimal and workable regulation.
In recent weeks Helen has been successful in a farmer appointed director election and she is now eagerly awaiting her Directors appointment to the NZ Pork Industry Board. Best of luck Helen!
She says “Farming has its sunny days and its rainy days and is JUST about as rewarding as being a mother!”, and we couldn’t agree more. Helen you are leading the way as a woman in the primary industry and your actions are inspiring. Keep up the great work.