Mel Graves and her husband Lance both come from non-farming families and careers. Originally, Mel is a Secondary School PE teacher and Lance a mechanic. However they shared a love for the outdoors and the rural lifestyle, and early on in their relationship developed the goal of raising children in a rural setting.
In 2014 the two made the move to dairy farming in the Wairarapa. While Lance learnt the ropes on farm Mel continued teaching PE and helping out on the farm where she could. The first two years were a fabulous learning curve for the couple and it resulted in Lance winning the 2016 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager of the Year, as well as placing 3rd in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.
This competition was the foundation blocks for Lance and Mel and set them up for where they wanted to go and how they were going to get there. It really kick started their dreams, as they made the move from the Wairarapa to Taranaki for the 2016/2017 season to be closer to family and to explore the farming opportunities up there.
At the beginning of this year, Mel took a break from teaching to welcome their daughter into the world. “I still do relief teaching, rear calves and the help out with the occasional milking. I just love being able to walk out the back door to go to work and enjoy the challenges that farming brings, and best of all I get to do it with my family. The lifestyle, the people and the environment is why Mel finds being in the industry so rewarding. "I wouldn't change it for anything. If I can do it, anyone can!”
Being able to find the perfect blend of life on the farm, family and career can often be difficult for some but you Mel, sound like you have a winning combination. Having your family close, whilst being able to challenge yourself both on and off farm is something that sounds like something you and Lance do very well.