Beverley Forrester – The Farm at Black Hills

February 27, 2015 10:55 pm

You won’t find a more devoted member of Rural Women New Zealand than Beverley Forrester. But then she’s the sort of person who does everything with cheerful enthusiasm and a huge dollop of ‘can do’ attitude.

Now Random House have published her memoir, which is set against the backdrop of the pioneers who established the farms and sheep stations in north Canterbury, and the long-established family she married into, bringing her to Black Hills.

Beverley is available to speak to groups about her life and The Farm at Black Hills, and we hope you’ll support her, especially as she intends to donate royalties from book sales to Rural Women New Zealand to set up a scholarship.

Beverley can be contacted at:  [email protected]

Copies of The Farm at Black Hills will be available in bookshops and in our website shop from 2 April 2015.

Alternatively you can attend the official book launch at Hurunui Hotel from 11am-1pm where Beverley will be signing copies.  For full details click here.

More about Beverley Forrester and the Rural Women connection.

Beverley’s entrepreneurial spirit was recognized when she was a finalist in Rural Women’s inauguaral Enterprising Rural Women Awards, held at The Beehive in Wellington in 2009.

With a love of all things to do with wool, her enterprises revolve around her prize-winning flock of coloured sheep. She is a sheep judge, has an interest in a woolen mill, has her own brand of hand spun yarns sold in outlets in the UK, US, Europe, China and Japan, and a range of hand knit fashion garments that have been shown at NZ Fashion Week.

Many of you will know Beverley, a salt of the earth, capable woman with a big country heart who’s taken on all that life’s served her.

Rural Women suggested to Random House she’d make a great subject for a book, so now we’re delighted  to see her story in print (publication date 2 April).

The Farm at Black Hills is about Beverley, and also the pioneering families who settled in North Canterbury. It covers the history of merino wool, and also the Romney and Corriedale breeds that have always been successfully farmed in the region. It’s about making farming sustainable, finding new income streams and giving back to the community which Beverley loves.

Beverley met Jim Forrester, whose family had farmed in the area for four generations. It was a late start for both of them making a life together.

Beverley, an occupational therapist, brought with her a beloved wee flock of black sheep, which she had run on an acreage outside of Christchurch for their spinning and weaving wool.

Though Jim was initially skeptical about having black sheep on the farm, after farmers had spent generations breeding out the black lines. Imagine his chagrin when Beverley started winning prizes at A&P shows!

With Jim’s sudden and premature death, Beverley was left to run the farm that she had barely worked on as she was always off the property with her occupational therapy work. Over time she came to the heart-breaking but pragmatic realization that she would have to carve blocks off it, as it was too big for her.

She knew she would have to focus and become more serious about marketing her wool and leveraging New Zealand’s clean and green image abroad.

With the help of cousins in England, she’s set up a shop in  Henley-on-Thames, where her wool is sold to a keen British market.

She also saw an opportunity in independent tourism. She and her loyal Black Hills team set about painstakingly restoring the farm’s unique and historic limestone buildings which tour buses now visit, and where visitors get to see the sheep shorn in the original stone woolshed.

The money made from the tour groups goes straight into rehab equipment that locals can borrow for free from her shed if they need walking frames, crutches, and so on after any sort of surgery, as there is no easy way for Hurunui district people to get this gear unless people travel into Christchurch.

Beverley’s on the board of the Canterbury A&P show and is in demand as a sheep judge — and she’s a mentor to many.

So get yourself a copy of her new book and enjoy a great read about one of our very inspiring members. In bookshops and our online shop from 2 April 2015.

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