How the Young Farmers movement began
The first Calf Club members in 1921 with the calves they had been given to look after. . . A year later parading with their growing animals
Nearly 100 years ago the Young Farmers Club movement began in the small Devon village of Hemyock in The Blackdown Hills.
This First Hemyock Calf Club No 1 was the forerunner of what has since become a worldwide movement with many thousands of members and a huge impact on agriculture and farming internationally.
It began with 19 teenagers, twelve boys and seven girls, from farms supplying the local milk factory run by the Wilts United Dairy Co.
The aim was to increase the milk supply which had fallen after the First World War because of lack of feedstuff and manpower.
The youngsters were each allocated a shorthorn calf to look after from cows giving 600 gallons a year. The average locally was about 400. The teenagers were given instruction in the latest in agricultural knowledge with meetings every two weeks, and time for social interaction too.
The project was taken up by a national newspaper, The Daily Mail, which took the young people to London to in 1923 and 1924 to see the Empire and Ideal Home exhibitions and drove them round the capital in an open top bus emblazoned with the Calf Club logo. They were filmed for Pathe News, then shown in every cinema in the country.
After that the government became involved and began to encourage the initiative.
Two of the original group were sent to Canada for six months to work on farms. After three years Ayrshire calves from cows giving 800 gallons were distributed in Hemyock, and after six years the milk factory had doubled its output. The calf club still exists today as the Culm Valley YFC.
Hemyock young farmers attracted two visits from Pathe News. These silent films were shown in theatres across the land.