When Katherine Gillespie married her husband Lance, he was working for a contractor, driving tractors and combines. Lance worked long hours but they lived close to town, he had his job and Katherine had hers. The two rented a little white farm cottage and in her mind their next house would be in town. Fast forward two years and you find Katherine and Lance living at the foothills of the Ruahine Ranges, ironically well out in the country with Katherine now unable to imagine a life in lived in town. Together they have three children, Ethan 16, Charlotte 14 and Lauren 10.

"I thrive on learning and meeting new people, and each course has provided me with skills and knowledge that enable me to work with confidence and passion.

"I thrive on learning and meeting new people, and each course has provided me with skills and knowledge that enable me to work with confidence and passion.

Katherine has a background in health, and spent 10 years working as a nurse in New Zealand, England and the USA. The two are now dairy farming 35 minutes north of Feilding. They employ two full-time staff and a relief milker. Lance is a full-time farmer. Katherine prefers people to animals and machinery, so she doesn't play a big part on the farm. She has however done her time in the cowshed. They farm using biological principles and have seen the benefits of treating their soil with care.

Table Flat Farmstay provides Katherine and Lance with a constant flow of visitors to their home. The farmstay allows Katherine to have an income with total flexibility. When the kids are home or she is busy with them then they don't have guests staying. Family time is precious and while the farm can't stop when the kids are home, Katherine does try to! Their visitors provide them with the much-needed social contact with people outside their social circles. Sharing a meal with visitors allows for the two to travel the world from home, as they hear about life in other parts of the world.

Katherine's passion has been "community" for many years now. When they moved to Apiti, she quickly realised that there was a strength in her new community that she hadn't seen when they lived closer to town. Here people know their neighbours, it is not uncommon to ask for a couple of eggs, a cup of flour or the odd onion. When mother nature throws a tantrum, the community pitches in to help clean up. The old-fashioned connections still exist and are vital for survival. Living in a small community has allowed Katherine the opportunity for growth, pushing her into leadership positions that she would not have stood for in a larger group. Treasurer then president of the Apiti Playcentre, BOT member for Apiti School. This has led on to a position on the Apiti Community Committee and also working with the wider community on the Manawatu Rural Support Services board.

Over the last ten years Katherine has done a series of courses AWDT First Steps, then Pathways, and in 2016 she completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership programme, researching “what makes a strong rural community?”. The Governance DairyNZ Development Programm, has also been greatly influential in her leadership development .

"I thrive on learning and meeting new people, and each course has provided me with skills and knowledge that enable me to work with confidence and passion. My vision is to work with rural communities in NZ, empowering them to grow in strength and develop a solid framework for moving into the future."

Katherine you have made the absolute most of what living in a small community has to offer. It sounds like you have embraced every opportunity and have captured the essence of what it is like to live alongside others rurally in New Zealand.