Organic Farm Holdings Ltd is owned by a group of 6 family investors with a keen interest in organics. This steered the direction of how they planned to operate from the start. The farm was established as a long-term family investment, and since the partners included experienced organic practitioners, the conversion process started immediately and across the whole area.
The business situated 50kms north of Christchurch bordering the small town of Waipara was born in 2008 with the purchase of Mt Cass Station, running 14,500 stock units and has grown with further land purchased and leased over the past 11 years. The development of pivot irrigation has provided stability of production in the face of summer droughts, and enabled a specialized cropping enterprise to be established, alongside an organic meat brand – “Wash Creek” which supplies delicious lamb and beef, raised with transparent organic practices that demonstrate some of the highest levels of animal welfare.
It took two years for the property to meet the Bio Gro standards and obtain its organic certification status. Parasite resilient self shedding and hair sheep were sourced and a nucleus stud established to develop an easy care low cost sheep more suitable for organic production. Multi-species pastures with Lucerne, chicory, red clover & plantain as a basis were introduced to improve animal production and health. Fencing to increase subdivision and increase the area of cultivatable land along with a program of forestry planting to neutralize the gorse weeds and facilitate management. A fertile and vibrant organic enterprise is being created.
BioGro has been in organic certification for over 35 years, and was the obvious partner for accreditation to the multiple global standards which are needed for the different crops sold into varied premium international markets.
“The process of organic certification was something that can initially seem daunting, yet working through the documentation step-by-step has shown just how achievable it was.”
Prompt notification of on farm issues with Biogro is important, so that they can help identify appropriate solutions and resolve any problems – their inputs database makes access to the right product easy. Organic Farm Holdings are particularly impressed with continued improvements BioGro have applied to their systems and communications, and the helpful attitude of the team, which makes the certification process accessible.
“A recent shift from paper-based documentation to an online management platform particularly allows us to focus more attention on the farm and less on the admin.”
Organic methods have been growing in public acceptance over many years as consumers and regulators understand the benefits to a healthy planet of nurturing soils and agricultural eco systems to reduce environmental costs & nutrient losses whilst increasing carbon sequestration and biodiversity. Demand for organic product is on a strong long term growth trajectory and premium prices are often obtainable from discerning customers - domestically and around the world. Operating as a certified organic producer has thrown up many challenges for Organic Farm Holdings, but so far no obstacle has been insuperable and the rewards have been very satisfying.