Jeff Farm

May 2015

A farm owned by the Salvation Army trains cadets and raises funds for charity and education

In 1952 Edmund Jeff, a widower, gifted his 1932ha farm to the Salvation Army for the “training of young people in farming.”   The farm continues to be owned and operated by the Salvation Army Property Trust Board for that purpose, with 5 young cadets currently living and working on the property.

In the 1980’s a farm management board was set up and substantial time and effort went into drainage, access roads and pasture renewal, as well as machinery and buildings.

The property currently supports 5 cadets (6 in 2016) and also distributes scholarships and supports other community projects. They support students at Telford, Lincoln, Canterbury and Taratahi.   It is one of the largest scholarship schemes of its type in the country.

In recent times the farm has taken on more land and is looking to expand its cadet scheme from 4 cadets to 6.

On top of the 1932ha Jeff Farm, they have recently purchased another 404ha. The farm runs 25,000s/u hoping to get up to 30,000 s/u comprising 70% sheep, around 25% cattle and the remainder in a small mob of deer.

John says the focus is maximising the profit for the Salvation Army and the cadets the farm trains. He says the property is strong and has a good base but last summer was hard with drought. He says the ground is hard and they’ve struggled without regular rain.

Sheep are Wairere Romney from Wairarapa and Motu Nui South from Wyndham. John says they target around 140% lambing.

John Chittock is the farm’s fifth manager. He has a background in farming and is a keen dog triallist (the property hosts a dog trial in late April). He takes a lot of pride in turning out good cadets ready for employment in the farm sector.  He says it’s good to see how the first year cadets arrive quite green and then develop as they learn new skills.

Assisting John on the farm is a head shepherd along with other permanent farm staff – a tractor driver and a handyman.

Jeff Farm runs an open day around August and aspiring cadets can have a look around.

John says he’s looking for young men and women who have a passion for farming.

The cadets stay for two years. They get day to day practical farm work of a wide range – dog work, tractors, stock work, fencing etc. John says they take time and patience to teach each farm task. Their motto is “do it once to do it properly”.

On top of the practical they also study via the Ag ITO scheme.

The cadets are “fully founded”- they get free board and food and are paid a wage. From this they’re expected to pay for their own clothes, wet weather gear and their transport to and from the farm.

The students have their own living quarters. There’s a kitchenette/living room where they have breakfast and watch TV. All the boys finish their week at Saturday lunchtime although they’re not allowed to leave until John Chittock has done an inspection of their living quarters, shower and laundry. In winter they are on a roster system and work alternate weekends. They come back on Sunday afternoon. There’s a cook onsite who provides lunch, dinner and morning tea.

One of the students is Cam Haynes who is from Dacre. He’s off a dairy farm but didn’t want to work there and has come to Jeff Farm to pick up skills and learn as much as he can about shepherding.