“GO FOR IT!”- Ashley’s Exchange Review

“GO FOR IT!”- Ashley’s Exchange Review

Ashley’s Canadian Review

Brechin member Ashley Spark (29) spent 10 weeks this summer being hosted by members of the Junior Farmers Association of Ontario as part of an SAYFC Exchange trip. Throughout this time Ashley, alongside fellow Scot Andrew Bennie (23 from Bathgate JAC) and a group of other exchangees from around the world, had many adventures, getting to see the sights whilst also being introduced to the variety of Canada’s agricultural landscape and practices. We asked Ashley a few questions about her experience:


What were your main highlights?

 There are so many highlights from my trip to Canada but some of the best were spending Canada Day in Ottawa with members from numerous clubs, visiting a water buffalo farm which included a tasting of their own produce, Beatties Potato Farm as we all found ourselves stunned at the volume of potatoes they were producing and the technology used, attending the Calgary Stampede and touring Banff during break week, cooking haggis, neeps and tatties for members of Durham JF’s followed by teaching them Scottish ceilidh dances, milking on one of my hosts farms and showing one of their Jersey heifers at the local fair and a trip to Niagara Falls.

What have you gained from the experience?

From this experience, I have gained friends for life from across Europe and Canada, created unforgettable memories, learned about the history and culture of Canada as well as learnt about a variety of agricultural enterprises (eg. stock, arable, fruit and horticulture) and shared knowledge of practices/challenges/successes in farming in Scotland and compared it with Canada and vice versa.

Would you recommend an exchange to Canada?

Yes, I would 100% recommend members to go on an exchange to Canada. Canada is such a big country but to be able to travel across the province of Ontario gives you an insight into how different areas are and a flavour of Canadian lifestyle. There is something to interest everyone from day trips to cities, to afternoons on the lakes, or tours of farm to wineries. Members of Junior Farmers of Ontario were fantastic, they were organised and planned a wide variety of tours but also accommodated our ideas and tweaked plans when appropriate. They were welcoming and it was clear that they were delighted to host us and show off their county.

What would be your advice to another member considering SAYFC travel?

My advice to any member considering SAYFC travel is to GO FOR IT! It is an experience you will never forget. Some of the trips, visits and things I learned would not have been possible without members of the Junior Farmer’s local knowledge and expertise. Something you would not be able to experience if you had planned a solo trip. Being part of a travelling trip organised in conjunction with SAYFC opens up so many opportunities and limits the stress of organising a trip by yourself. My biggest piece of advice is- say YES to everything (trips, experiences and events).

If you’ve been inspired by Ashley’s experience you can read about and apply for this year’s international opportunities here: