Sara Crawford calls Wakanui, Ashburton home where she is dairy farming, along with her husband Jared and two children Lennox 4 and Harper 2. Sara is very hands on with the running of their 1700 cow farm, together with Jared they share an absolute love for what they do on a daily basis.
They are a passionate peoples couple and have an awesome team and that help them run Paramount Dairies where they have been based for nearly a season.
Sara believes her greatest achievement to date though was getting her current position as the Canterbury and North Otago coordinator for Dairy Connect (Dairy NZ initiative). Here she facilitates short term partnerships where “Farmers are supporting farmers”. Pairing dairy farmers together to share topic-specific information and experiences to learn from each other. “It’s such a great opportunity as I not only get to up-skill myself through public speaking at the many events I attend to promote Dairy connect but also am able to mentor relationships between farmers.
Where she can Sara also supports the local Dairy Women’s Network group and has been known to jump in to help where ever its needed.
Dairy farming isn’t something Sara ever saw her self doing growing up. She grew up in a small town called Paeroa (L&P world famous in NZ),the youngest of four girls.
Following high school she became a qualified chef and set out to following her love of food, cooking and making people happy.
Ten years went by between high school and when Sara says she was lucky enough to bump in to her high school sweet heart in while living and working at Mt Maunganui beach in her early 20’s. After starting a career as a plumber Jared had decided to go back farming and wanted Sara to go with him.
Always one up for a challenge she decided to give it a go and became full time as a dairy assistant in Horsham Downs in Hamilton.
“It was an interesting year to say the least. Who knew how tough it was to work with your partner full time while doing huge hours and to go home and talk about what you’ve just been doing all day”.
Back then they only got 4 days off every 21 days so it was tough, but also something Sara says was a very rewarding process and they learnt a lot.
Their second season saw them moving on to manage 370 cows in Matamata, where they worked with some top people which Sara believes set them up with some great skills going forward. After two years in the Waikato many skills, ag courses and a taste in the Dairy Industry awards an big opportunitiy to move to Southland in 2012 arose.
Once in Southland they ran 3 large scale farms over 5 years. Sara said over this time many more skills were grown through, helping with hiring staff, building new conversions and learning the ins and outs of buying stock and grazing them through to in calf heifers.
Together they built up stock numbers and went LOSM (lower order sharemilking) with cows in the herd and experienced their first year of hiring their own staff, monthly board meeting with their farm owner. At first the admin side of the business was very daunting for Sara, but over the years she has aced its art.
“Jared produced reports and budgets and we both attended board meetings. The admin side was daunting as I was new to this, I had to learn it all on my own, and doing financials wasn’t always my strength! “
Over their first 5 years in the industry this outstanding couple grew equity, won the both the Farm Manager of the year (2014) and placed 2nd in the Sharemilkers of the year competition for The Dairy Industry Awards for Otago and Southland (2017).
Sara believes the many Primary ITO courses really set them up to be their best for the industry.
“Industry Awards set us up to be our best through challenging ourselves and our business. The many courses helped too”
If farming wasn’t challenging enough last season Sara had an awesome experience as the “Gore” Regional Convernor for Dairy Womens Network.She facilitated and organised all events from movie nights to guest speaker evenings.
While Jared’s role is overseeing the day to day running and staff Management. Sara plays a crucial role helping to run the weekly meetings with staff, run all the admin side including wages, cash manager and GST. This dairy queens is also the property’s chief calf rearer. Something she has always loved doing and now with a few helpers rears up to 400 replacements and bulls.
“There is a real art to rearing healthy young stock and with our systems we do a top job! “.
You will also find Sara assisting with 3-4 morning milkings a week to ease the pressure and to give the staff sleep in’s.
“We have the best farm owners any sharemilker could wish for. We are part of a great community of very lovely people and have a great school for our almost 5-year-old to go to in March”
With a love for the outdoors being a family affair you will often find the Crawford family exploring the countryside when they get the chance off farm. And just when you thought Sara stopped there together with husband Jared, she attends personal training sessions in town twice a week and loves to get out running when she gets the chance, along with the odd social netball game.
Wow Sarah what an amazing agwoman! You are doing an awesome job promoting your sector and your passion is obvious. We wish you both all the best for the future dairy industry awards and hope to see your name against Sharemilkers of the Year for Canterbury. Good Luck. Being an agwoman like you is defiantly rewarding!