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The principal gatekeeper for all things data on the farm, Louise has been applying her mathematician background to farming since the ‘80s. Practically speaking, this means breeding, milk production, and organic auditing administration, and she also serves as the chief financier. “With the robots, we have so much information to work with now. It’s not about solely relying on the system – more applying the knowledge we’ve learned along the way to the data to make better decisions.” Louise looks forward to the near future when the Automated Milking System is well and truly embedded so we can be even more future-focused with our decision-making. “What we do here has to be good because we live our lives in this land.”
“I like a good challenge, and most of the decisions we’ve made along the way have been about keeping the job interesting. We’re not scared of being the first to do something and working it out as we go. It’s not a case of having to have all the answers in the beginning.” Neville grew up in Hora Hora and bought the farm with Louise in 1989. A fitter-and-turner by trade, he likes to make modifications to farm machinery and create his own implements to get the job done better. Day to day, he is mainly in charge of the animals and pasture and feed management within the organic practice. “We work differently, not to make things easier, but because it is right.”
“I categorically believe New Zealand’s competitive advantage, when it comes to products from the land, is in organically produced, value-added, with responsible practice.” Gina was born in 1985 and grew up on the farm, but for the last decade has been working in advertising and as a freelance writer, both in New Zealand and Australia. As a creative and strategist, she has worked on categories as diverse as fast-moving consumer goods, automotive, financial services, telecommunications, events, alcohol, aviation, retail, government and social enterprise. In 2013 she was compelled to apply what she’d learned to the family farm and two years later she took a year off to get as much done as she could. The ongoing wetland restoration and the addition of the apiary are projects she oversees. “Anything we can do to add to the diversity of the land use, involve people, and diversify our earnings in the process, is where we need to be.”
“The farm has taught me a lot and in many ways defined me as an adult. It taught me lateral thinking, to think outside the box and to problem-solve.” Trent was born in 1990 and also grew up on the farm. He lives in Wellington, where he recently graduated from university with a music degree; working as a sound editor, he also plays in the band BEATCOMBER. As Trent lives further away from the farm, he gets home when he can and often gets roped into helping out on incidental tasks, such as wiring beehive frames, assembling cow collars, planting the odd vegetable patch and curating the music in the robotic milking shed. “Farming benefits everyone, so whatever we can do now to sustain the future of our industry is a good thing.”
Since Gina came home one day in August 2016 with a mad idea about bees, Richard has been helping make the dream a reality. As the head beekeeper, Richard spends most of his spare time thinking about the health and expansion of the apiaries on the farm. Richard’s finance background sees him have a keen eye on the details of running a business. Originally from the South-East Coast of England, he especially enjoys being close to nature again and learning about farming in New Zealand. Being a keen amateur chef, he’s also mostly found pickling, preserving, baking and stewing things from the farm, in the shed kitchen at the weekends. “Having such an abundance of space here, there’s no end to the amazing things we can grow. Half the fun is dreaming up new things to add to the garden.”