15 February 2019
Visit Roebuck Farm and it won’t take long to see something extraordinary has been created. This sustainable and profitable small-scale working farm has a pioneering quality, teaching the principles of independence and self-sufficiency through its highly interactive on-farm activities and based around its agrarian and market garden production.
Jodi Roebuck is an internationally-renowned biointensive gardening educator and restoration grazing consultant. For close to two decades, he has been growing and selecting heritage vegetable seeds. He has partnered with and influenced graziers and educators across the world in some of the globe’s driest regions and he generously shares his knowledge through regular on-farm workshops with a focus on small-scale market gardening and winter gardening.
The adage ‘little things make big things happen’ is particularly apt for this business; in 2003, Jodi and wife Tanya Mercer purchased 3ha of land, set 11.6km south-west of New Plymouth, and breathed life into their concept.
Today, their market garden flourishes with many flavours; lettuce, mustard, mizuna, kale, rocket, pea microgreens, rainbow microgreens, carrot, turnips and radish add vibrancy and variety to their very productive land. Additionally, 130 ewes are grazed on the property and neighbouring properties, true to the farm’s collaborative nature.
The judges were impressed by the couple’s excellent use of land to produce high-value, fast-growing greens with short days to maturity, achieving more return per hectare.
As part of their strong sustainability philosophy, Jodi and Tanya have a great deal of respect for their environment. All growing, harvesting and pasture management is undertaken with soil health and quality front of mind. The river, which borders the property, is well fenced and has a large number of mature trees and native bush protecting it. Companion crops have been planted between varieties of cash crops to help take the insect and pest pressure off the cash crops.
Weeds are reduced by hand, engaging a range of different tools, and no spray is utilised. A large amount of shelter is planted on the hillside which helps to protect the property from wind and reduce erosion.
Of their foray into the awards this year Jodi comments, “It is about sharing what we are doing as early adopters and helping to make positive change so that it becomes the ‘new normal’. It is nice to be acknowledged and I would say to others who are considering entry, ‘Don’t be shy’. The judges speak your language. It’s about being more innovative with practice and reaching new standards.”
Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award