15 February 2019
The Homers have youth and heritage on their side. Having recently negotiated a successful family succession - completed in less than 10 years - the couple’s well rounded sheep, beef, forestry and tourism business has a bright future.
The judges were impressed by the couple’s ability to give significant energy to each of their farming endeavours while raising their four primary school-aged children. The Homers’ efforts continue to diversify thanks to lateral thinking, with their professional portfolio now extended to tourism. They have recently set up a spare house on the farm as an Airbnb with a unique offering for guests to interact with farm animals and activities.
Linlithgow Farm’s day-to-day farm production was applauded by the judges. The farm winters 4800 ewes, 1300 hoggets, 100 Angus/Hereford cows and 90 R1 cattle. Ewes lambing percentage is approximately 140%, so above average for the area.
The Homers have a fundamental understanding of their environment and work diligently to give it the attention and care it deserves. About two thirds of the farm area is Waitahuna soil type, a pallic soil, while the remainder on the higher eastern side of the farm is Waipori soil type, a brown soil. Tony is aware of the differences between the soils and manages them appropriately.
Several stands of exotic forestry are interspersed throughout the farm, amounting to 40 hectares in total. Additionally, a regenerating gully of native bush is located near the top of the property. It is carefully managed with some light grazing. True to the Homers’ innovative spirit, they are excited by the prospect of turning this area into an earner with aspirations of creating an area they can share with others.
Impressively, the Homers are very involved in their community with Sarah being on the Waitahuna Primary School Board of Trustees for the last seven years, as well as the Parent Teacher Association. Tony is a director of Clutha Vets, and like Sarah, is an office bearer for various local clubs.
The couple entered this year’s awards with encouragement from peers. “When we sat down to think about it we thought we had a story to tell. It’s still sinking in that we are finalists and we think it’s great for others to give it a go too. You can learn a lot as you go.”