Growing up on a farm at Mauriceville, Wairarapa, Lynda Balfour always knew the farming life was for her. Now based on a sheep and beef farm at Pongaroa where she and her husband James are equity managers, Lynda balances this with being Mum to two young, very active boys and building her health and safety business - Summit Safety – in the agricultural sector.
After finishing school she did a Bachelor of Business Studies at Massey University in Palmerston North. This led to a career in media sales for seven years before she and James moved to Tasmania for James to take up a job with Van Diemen’s Land Co, which was partly owned by the New Plymouth District Council. In Tasmania Lynda managed two banks. It was while working in the Australian financial industry that Lynda was immersed in health and safety.
After 3 ½ years in Tasmania home was calling. When Lynda was four months pregnant with her first child they moved back to New Zealand. James started work at central North Island Lochinver Station and it was while she was a stay-at-home Mum Lynda was approached to do an audit of Lochinver’s health and safety in preparation for its biannual ACC audit.
With the law change fast approaching at the time, Lynda spotted an opportunity to help farmers get systems in place and make health and safety on farm easier to understand. Health and safety was becoming more and more topical and Lynda saw it as something she could do from home that was flexible around the children and contributed off-farm income to their partnership.
When they moved to Pongaroa to take up their equity partnership Lynda continued to do health and safety for Stevenson Agriculture (owners of Lochinver Station) on a quarterly basis. From there she decided to enrol with Bedrock Solutions in Christchurch to gain further qualifications in the area completing a National Certificate in Health and Safety Co-ordination, Level 4.
Summit Safety was formed in November 2015. Targeting local farmers and a few in the wider Wairarapa region. She was surprised by the response and the local support. “It came to the point where people realised it was a reality and had to be done, and to have someone local that they knew, who could put it in normal language, made them more comfortable. Starting is the hardest part – once a system is in place health and safety is not that big a deal.” Her no-nonsense, common sense approach to health and safety is a way farmers can relate to. Her job involves co-ordinating onfarm health and safety systems and providing ongoing support to clients.
Her motto is Safety, Farming and Family. She aims to encourage people to take ownership and do health and safety themselves, with her support. The idea is for farmers to actively minimise hazards and manage accidents, to reduce fatalities and injuries. “It’s about empowering farmers to have the confidence to do it.” Being a parent has changed Lynda’s outlook too. “I wouldn’t want James to not come home and that drives me too.”
With the aim of having a busy and thriving business, supporting the partnership with her off-farm income to help fulfil the dream of one day purchasing a farm of their own, and giving their kids the best life possible. Lynda is looking forward to the future. “The farming lifestyle, the upbringing on a farm and the whole environment – you can’t compare it.”