About Us

Jeff Farm is located on Old Coach Road between Mataura and Clinton in South Otago. The highly regarded and productive 2433-hectare breeding and finishing property is managed by Michael and Tarryn Benton, for The Salvation Army Trust Board. The farm carries approximately 30,000 stock units, with all progeny finished on the property; stock balance is 70 percent sheep, 20 percent beef cattle and 10 percent deer, giving a good balance of income streams. The farm targets 145 percent lambing survival to sale from the ewe flock and 90 percent from the mated hoggets. The sheep on Jeff Farm are of a Romney base with mating to Romney sires for replacements and Black-face sires for terminal progeny. The farm carries an Angus herd of cattle for breeding and finishing purposes.

In 2017, Jeff Farm was recognised as the best training farm in New Zealand when it won the Silver Fern Farms Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year Award at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Sheep Industry Awards. This award reflects the Farm’s core purpose, which is to provide outstanding training to the next generation of New Zealand’s farmers.

Jeff Farm came into the possession of The Salvation Army in an interesting way. Edmund Jeff farmed the property for years before World War 2 with the assistance of local labour. Times were tough and he did not have the capital to develop the property. The war and its aftermath reduced the pool of local labour and, in the early 1950s widowed and with no children, Edmund faced compulsory acquisition of the farm by the government, so that it could be divided into smaller units for the settlement of returned soldiers.

But Edmund had a better idea. In 1952, he formed a trust to administer the property rather than have the government acquire his land and he stipulated that the farm was to be gifted to The Salvation Army. This was providing it was used to train young people in farming practices—who would not otherwise have such a career option—for a career in the New Zealand agricultural industry. 

The Salvation Army took over the running of the Trust in 1954, when Edmund Jeff wanted to travel the world, and set about administering the farm according to his wishes. Young people were trained, and under various managers, the property was slowly developed and began to show a profit after also providing training for students.

Edmund Sanderson Jeff died in Glasgow on 11 October 1970.

In 1982, The Salvation Army Trust Board set up a farm management board and invited a number of southern business and farming experts to sit on it. This resulted in a massive development programme, financed by accumulated profits from previous years.

Low-lying paddocks were drained and re-grassed, subdivision improved, new internal roads were built and the farm buildings and stock were significantly upgraded. Improved profits followed and The Salvation Army decided to review the terms of the late Edmund Jeff’s bequest, but still within its spirit and still using Jeff Farm as the source of that bequest.

The High Court eventually approved a variation of the trust whereby students would continue to be trained on the farm, but the trust board could use the profits from the farm to educate and support other young people for a life in agriculture at other approved training establishments.

The Salvation Army grants scholarships to assist young people to study agriculture-related courses at Lincoln University, Telford Rural Polytechnic (now via SIT) and Primary ITO.

Every year up to five young people are on the farm, training in practical farming skills through a 2-year cadet course under the direction of Michael and Tarryn and their senior staff. The Farm offers an opportunity to gain level 2 and 3 NZ Agriculture qualifications through Primary ITO, as well as practical training from mustering, shearing, general stock work, tractor work, fencing, winter grazing rotations, training dogs, etc, alongside our team of permanent staff. Our cadets are housed in comfortable and warm single quarters and are well fed and cared for by our onsite cook and offered pastoral care from members of The Salvation Army staff.

We source each of our cadets a well-bred pup soon after arrival, then organise training and support to bring their pup through to a useful on-farm working dog, all under the expert tuition of farm staff, with a view towards building an effective team of working dogs during their time at Jeff Farm.

Jeff Farm annually seeks applications for young people (aged between 16 and 19 years of age) to join the cadet scheme. We are looking for extremely dedicated, focused, self-motivated young people who are able to work in a team situation and hold a minimum NCEA Level 1 or its equivalent standard. They must have a passion for agriculture and hill country farming and the lifestyle that goes with it, they must also be fit and healthy and keen on the outdoors. Successful applicants will display a hunger to learn both the practical and the theory of farming via on-farm training from the Farm’s permanent staff and from Primary ITO extension learning, they will also need to be self-motivated and disciplined to ensure completion of the cadetship within the 2-year timetable proposed. Applicants who possess their restricted drivers license are preferred to those still on their learner license.

We will be holding our next Open Day on Saturday 3rd August 2024 at 10am, applications for the following year’s training positions will be available after the open day or on the website by following the link below.

More info about Agricultural Scholarships

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