2023 Winner 'what the farming industry should be'

A humble and hard-working North Otago dairy farmer is the inaugural winner of the Otago Daily Times-Rural Life Year of the Farmer initiative.

There's something about Myfanwy.

It is not often that the North Otago dairy farmer is lost for words, but when she was told she was the winner of the Otago Daily Times-Rural Life Year of the Farmer initiative, there was a very long pause.

Humble and hard-working, Ms Alexander, 37, was chosen by a panel of judges from five finalists in a celebration of the South Island’s food and fibre-producing champions.

Nelson and Fiona Hancox (Tapanui), Stefan and Holly Roulston (Heriot), Stu and Sarah Jamieson (Luggate) and Ross and Jo Hay (Herbert), along with Ms Alexander, were selected from a stack of nominations following the initiative’s launch at Wānaka A&P Show in March.

Judge and Landpro executive director Kate Scott said Ms Alexander embodied the positivity of the campaign, which was all about celebrating rural people who were creating an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable future while also making a positive contribution to their rural communities.

Continuing to progress through the dairy industry as a single mother with two young daughters, she had demonstrated resilience and an approach of "getting on and doing it" — making a success of her life and contributing to her community.

Welsh-born Ms Alexander, who is a contract milker on a 1000-cow farm near Duntroon, is president of North Otago Federated Farmers, the regional lead for the Dairy Women’s Network and a member of the South Island Dairy Event governance group.

She also instigated a group in her local area for female dairy farmers.

Her nominator described her as "literally the embodiment of what the farming industry should be".

Year of the Farmer winner Myfanwy Alexander, pictured on the Duntroon farm where she is a...
Year of the Farmer winner Myfanwy Alexander, pictured on the Duntroon farm where she is a contract milker, reckons it is tea which is running through her veins. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Ms Alexander, who has a partner, Scott, and is mother to Emily, 14, and Isabelle, 12, will receive a prize pack valued at $10,000, including a special Wānaka experience in conjunction with the Wānaka A&P Association.

The people’s choice award was won by Canterbury teacher Sarah Foley-Smith, who runs the Primary Industry Academy at Geraldine High School, collaborating with businesses to create a practical education.

Her nominator said she captured the hearts and minds of those she taught who often were not the most engaged pupils in other subjects.

Due to the overwhelming response from the rural community, readers and sponsors, the Otago Daily Times and Rural Life have confirmed the initiative will back next year.