Welcome to the Farm.
Welcome to the farm blog where we hope to share our ponderings and learnings as we make our first steps back into organic farming.
Who we are.
Mingiroa is a family farm, based in the Rangitikei region of New Zealand. The Hogg family has been farming on this land for over 150 years. Currently, the family is:
- Richard - bucket hat wearing CEO and the glue that holds the farm together,
- Sally - farmers' market extraordinaire and insta-whizz,
- Hamish - farm manager, cow whisperer and the man on the ground every morning,
- Sam - sultan of soil and vege man,
- Tess - word-smith and keen student of all things organic, head of anything risky and legal sounding, and
- Ally - numbers man with a sideline operation in wheels and sprockets.
That said, the Mingiroa Farm family is really a lot bigger than that and includes JJ & Pete, Karen, Alex, Yvonne, Gordon, Michele and Paul as well as Jude, Alistair, Laura, Belinda, Angus and lots of little people. A farm does not run itself and over the years we have had the input and help of many, many people and we are sure there will be plenty more to come!
What we do.
Richard likes to say that the farm (and he) have had many "careers." Originally, sheep and beef, he and his brother Alistair brought the farm into a new phase of horticulture and were movers and shakers in the early asparagus days in New Zealand. Initially broad scale cropping, as supermarket prices began to pinch the farm diversified into growing a broader variety of fruit and vegetables without chemicals. Part of Mingiroa Farm was then BioGro New Zealand organic certified for sheep, beef and horticulture. Through farmers markets, vegetable boxes and a faithful roadside farm stall, our family began to share the best of Mingiroa directly with the community.
In 2008, we made the move to add a few moos to our crew and the family farm was converted to dairy (with a faithful ongoing fruit, vege and asparagus operation), with the intention to run the farm conventionally to cover initial conversion costs before running the dairy platform organically. It has taken us longer than we had hoped, and, when dairy prices dropped substantially, it looked like our plans would have to be put on the shelf. But now, bolstered by the growing local interest in organic produce and the conviction that organic farming is the best way that we can farm sustainably (for the land and for us), we are very excited to take Mingiroa Farm back down the organic path.
Where we are going.
We are playing the long game and want to regenerate our patch of land for the future. With the help of Greg Barclay from Ecofarm, we are working on a sustainable system of farming based on complete mineral and biological balance. First with the soil and the biology within it, then the lush, diverse and nutritious herb, clover and grass pastures, the animals that graze it and the food that that creates. We want to prove that this way of farming is not only environmentally sustainable, but also economically viable. We also want to help other farms (and the people that run them) look at organics and biological farming, by sharing not only our wins, but what we come up against.
Late last year, we applied and were accepted into Fonterra’s organics programme for the coming season. This is a huge credit to how Richard and Hamish have been running the farm and is a very exciting time for us.
We have kept one hand in the soil and over the years have been growing potatoes, asparagus and a range of heritage varieties of leafy greens, fruits and vegetables for local markets. Over the last few months, Sam has been busy trialing the bio-intensive method of growing and has tomatoes, courgettes, lettuces, cabbages, beetroot, eggplants and herbs raring to go to local farmers markets, and (hopefully) your plates.
We have also started a native tree-planting programme and are excitedly watching the first of our new native corridors stretch up into the sky.
As of today, we are year one of our organic conversion and will fully converted (all going well) by 2020.
We want to open up our gates literally and figuratively. It is a hard time to be a farmer and we would like to help break down some of the town country divide by allowing people to feel at home on the farm. We have a lot of different schemes up our sleeves! But, we want to start by sharing, being open and being honest.
We would like to prove that organic (and biological) farming makes both environmental and economic sense. There is a lack of information for farmers thinking of taking their farm down this track and we would like to be able to dispel some of the myths out there. That said, we're still learning every single day and we want to share what we learn. The good and the bad!
It all comes back to.
Although we are farmers, we have always been keen to do things a bit differently. Organic farming isn't new to us, we were organic way back when everyone thought it was a strange hippy trend. We are certainly not perfect, but we do think that good food and good milk should be accessible and affordable. We think its madness that, in a country like New Zealand, good, honest, chemical free vegetables and dairy products are expensive and hard to come by. We hope that, by growing and farming in a way that we can be proud of we can create food that fuels you, excites you and tastes bloody good.
Welcome to the farm!
Richard, Sally, Hamish, Sam & Tess