Margaret Wallace of Ballys-culty, Templepatrick, one of the three Ulster young farmers who were the joint winners of this year’s Burnhouse Award scheme, returned home this week from a six-month study tour in the United States.
She returned to Southampton on the last service crossing of the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth.
Margaret spent the first three months of her tour in North and South Dakota and in August she attended the Mid-Point Conference for International Farm Youth Exchangees travelling in the USA.
Almost 100 exchangees from 37 different countries met for the conference, the theme of which was world peace.
“Eating a bowl of rice with our fingers helped us appreciate the diet of half the world’s population,” says Margaret, “and in our Group meetings we discussed what could be done to help solve the starvation problem.”
After the conference Margaret travelled to Pennsylvania, a state nine times bigger than Ulster. Here Margaret saw the ways of the Amish, a sect which does not approve of modern things. Oil lamps, horse and buggy, hand-churned butter and old fashioned cooking stoves are all part of the way of life in this district.
“I was amused to see,” says Margaret, “that outside one home a modern manure spreader had had its rubber tyres replaced with iron wheels.”
Despite their ways the people of the area are excellent farmers. The family Margaret stayed with had a herd of excellent pedigree Holstein-Friesians, and at a pedigree show and sale attended by Margaret, farmers received up to £300 for a cow.
Throughout her tour Margaret found great friendliness among the people and her own Irish poems and Irish recipes proved a big hit in the local communities in which she stayed.
The other joint winners of this year’s Burnhouse Award, which is sponsored by Robert Wilson & Sons (Ulster) Limited in conjunction with the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, were Pamela Bowden of Lisburn and Phelim Campbell of Stewartstown. Both recently returned from their three-month study tour, which was spent in Canada.