Seeking Love Amid the Fields: A Farmer’s Quest at Fieldays


2022 Young Farmer of the Year Regional finalist Zarnie Fergusson (Image Supplied by Fieldays Team)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, May 30, 2024

Despite the surge of dating apps and the digital age’s seamless connectivity, the quest for love continues to challenge young rural individuals working on farms across the country.

For Zarnie Fergusson, a 30-year-old farmer and 2022 Young Farmer of the Year Regional finalist from Kaukapakapa, North of Auckland, this struggle hits close to home.

With ambitious dreams both personally and professionally, she has bravely shared her story with the team at Fieldays, highlighting the unique difficulties single farmers face in finding love.

“Do not get me wrong, I am not sitting at home feeling sorry for myself,” she states candidly. “I just know that I am one of many farmers who feel like this.”

With the highly anticipated Fieldays event approaching, Ms Fergusson saw an opportunity to reach out and ask for help in finding a love match amidst the festivities.

Connection is solution

Her previous attempts to find like-minded individuals who understand her lifestyle have often fallen short, as many outside the farming industry fail to grasp the demanding, round-the-clock nature of the job.

“It is a part of the job that I do not think people consider, and I wanted to bring some attention to it,” she explains.

“Farming can be very isolating, but connection is the solution. That is why Fieldays is so great, it brings us all together, allowing us to meet new, like-minded people.”

The four-day Fieldays event offers a fertile ground for fostering meaningful face-to-face interactions. Visitors frequently find themselves striking up conversations with strangers, leading to new friendships and sometimes even romantic relationships. History supports this notion; while many attendees discover the latest agricultural innovations at Fieldays, others find love.

Mike and Ryley Short found love at Fieldays (Image Supplied by Fieldays Team)

Start to a fairytale life

Take the story of dairy farmers Mike and Ryley Short (née McGougan). Their romance, highlighted during the 50th anniversary of Fieldays in 2018, began at the event. Mike, who won the Golden Gumboot award in the 2009 Fieldays Rural Bachelor competition, met Ryley through Fieldays.

Today, the couple is married, raising a family, and farming in Feilding. For Ms Fergusson, a dairy and beef farmer, the hope is to meet someone who comprehends the pressures and passions of her profession.

She is searching for a partner who will not be put off if she has to leave a date due to a cow in trouble or if she returns home not smelling like lavender.

Looking for Love

She remains active in her local Young Farmer Club, relishing the camaraderie of her peers. She breeds Pedigree Hereford cattle, finishes Hereford-cross steers, and is involved in a 50/50 sharemilking operation on her family’s dairy farm. Her ultimate dream is to own a large Hereford Stud, expanding her current herd of 30 Hereford cows and becoming renowned as a top breeder for dairy service bulls.

In her rare moments of leisure, Ms Fergusson enjoys reading, watching documentaries, and visiting museums and art galleries during trips to Auckland.

“My ideal partner does not have to be a farmer, but they must have some understanding of the industry and its pressures,” she says. “I am looking for someone fun to spend my precious few non-working hours with, someone who enjoys hiking, reading, great food, and laughter.”

She emphasised that she is not searching for a fleeting romance but a long-term partner who is as serious about life, love, and Herefords as she is.

About Fieldays

Fieldays is an iconic event in the agricultural calendar, held on a sprawling 114-hectare site at Mystery Creek, just a 10-minute drive from Hamilton. It stands as the largest agricultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting exhibitors and visitors from around the globe. The event serves as a crucial platform for showcasing the latest innovations, trends, and technologies in the agricultural industry.

Run by the New Zealand National Fieldays Society, Fieldays has a storied history dating back to its founding in 1968. The Society, a charitable organisation, was established with the mission of advancing the primary industries, playing a pivotal role in supporting the agricultural community through education, innovation, and development.

Fieldays is not just an exhibition but a celebration of rural life and an essential networking hub for those in the agricultural sector. The event features a diverse range of activities including live demonstrations, educational seminars, and competitions such as the renowned Rural Bachelor of the Year. Attendees have the opportunity to engage with industry experts, discover cutting-edge equipment and products, and participate in discussions that shape the future of farming.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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