"You're mad!" they said...
Setting out to turn a run-down, bankrupt piggery on the side of the Kaimai Ranges, just 5 Km from Te Aroha, into a world-class farm was never going to be easy.
"You're mad!" They told us. "You'll never turn it around. The place is too far gone!"
"You've got an up-hill battle," they said. "The farms last owners were no good to their neighbours, or the community!"
But that's exactly what we set out to do when we got together to buy the farm in Spring of 2016.
And the true scale of the challenge became clear right from day 1: an effluent pond about to overflow into a nearby stream; a farm track in dire need of repair; and farm buildings desperately requiring maintenance. And to add insult to injury, the door on the staff toilet had never even been properly installed, so we had to make sure we shouted ahead before entering in case we got walked-in on!
Getting stuck in
But the men and women of our enthusiastic new team didn't let that get them down. They had the bigger picture in mind; that one day soon, the farm would pull through. It would become a brilliant, environmentally-friendly farm and it would have great animal welfare.
There were even whispers going around about creating electricity by using pig manure! All in all, the team believed we would turn it into the farm it was originally meant to be, before it was allowed to be run into the ground.
No-one knew if it was all going to work; if the farm was already too far gone, if the fix-ups were just too big and if the community still wanted to have anything to do with us. But we decided to just work away, have faith, and just see what we could do.
Rawhiti - "Rising Sun"
One day, a few weeks after we started, a contractor was working on the farm helping us to dig holes, when he stopped and announced,
"I can't pronounce your farms name very well. Why did you call it Rawhiti?"
So we explained our hopes for the farm; that one day it would be a beautiful, sustainable, green farm; how we wanted to make the community proud, and when they would talk about the farm we wanted it to be a beautiful Maori name - so we chose Rawhiti which means East, rising sun.
The worker listened intently and then responded,
"Oh... yeah? I just thought it was because it's on Rawhiti Road!"
To this day, the farm continues to move forward, always with its end vision in mind. Its list of projects for 2018 alone include:
- a wastewater filtration system to reduce the risk of Nitrogen-leaching into the waterways from our effluent,
- a bio-gas plant, designed with help from NIWA, to turn green-house gasses into electricity to help power the farm,
- large feed bins that enable big food factories to get rid of their expired produce in an environmentally friendly way,
- spending time getting involved with local schools, as well as netball and rugby clubs in the area (we love our sport!)
- working closely with Waikato Regional Council and Matamata-Piako District Council to ensure the farm remains compliant and the communities interests are met.
We are very excited about what the future holds, both for Rawhiti Pork and for the region in general. We love farming and we love the land. We want to be a responsible farm the community people can be proud of.
Feel free to contact us using the form below, or call us for further info about any projects, community involvement and general goings-on at the farm. +64 (0)21 404079
Get in touch.
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