Great Farming Stories

2020 Northland Entrants

3 June 2020

2020 Northland Entrants

Here are our wonderful 2020 entrants for the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards. We congratulate them all for becoming involved in the awards programme - it's a privilege to have learned more about their food and fibre production businesses.

Rod & Cindy and Brenna Maclvor, Marsden Estate — Kerikeri
Vineyard, restaurant and winery

When Rod and Cindy MacIvor first planted grapevines in Kerikeri back in 1993, little did they know their hard work would ensure Northland’s place on the wine-maker’s map of New Zealand.

Today, Marsden Estate remains a successful family business producing award-winning wines and proving pivotal to the growth and sustainability of Northland’s wine industry.  

The picturesque property has a focus on consistent, rather than maximum, yield plus is a registered sustainable vineyard. All wine is grown and sold on-site, reducing the property’s carbon footprint, while vine health management practices get the best out of the plants with minimal environmental impact.

Looking to the future, the business seeks out innovative ways to improve current practices and trial new products in the winery.

Grant & Danielle Petterd, Prospark Farms — Kerikeri
Dairy

Grant and Danielle Petterd manage an attractive 277ha block where they consistently achieve production targets above the district average for both milk solids per cow and per hectare.
Sharemilking for an equity partnership, their farm practices align with a commitment to environmental sustainability and biodiversity. All waterways are fenced and have riparian margins, with wet areas retired and earmarked for future planting. 

Grant and Danielle combine their in-depth knowledge of the farm’s landscape and water with technology, achieving optimum productivity through innovative and well-managed farm practices. A key focus is on improving the dairy herd’s genetics.

While carefully balancing the needs of farming with those of their young family, the Petterds are also heavily involved in the local community.

Jeff Martin & Helen Linssen, Te Karoa Farms — Kaeo
Beef

A commitment to quality and waterway management has established Jeff and Helen as industry leaders, while their farming approach is successful in terms of both liveweight gains and sustainability.

The business is run across three properties, with the success of their management plan reflected in the amount and quality of pasture. GPS mapping divides the properties into grazing cells, allowing stock to be moved regularly and have long winter rotations.

Their farming approach returns liveweight gains per hectare that are well above district averages. The model has also proved to have the least impact on the land.

Since taking over, Jeff and Helen have made significant improvements to infrastructure on-farm, plus find time for plenty of community involvement. 

Gavin Hogarth and Jody Hansen, Bella Vacca Jerseys — Kawakawa
Dairy (boutique)

Establishing a market for fresh milk in glass bottles has been a challenge that this couple has risen to with true commitment and vision. The couple are proud to be the leading supplier of whole milk in Northland under the Bella Vacca brand.

Sharemilking for the past nine seasons, the pair pasteurise and bottle some of the farm’s milk onsite before it is delivered to Auckland and Northland retailers.

Animal health and milk quality is prioritised, with the farm reducing its stocking rate to help manage soil quality and reduce nutrient loss.

Demand has grown faster than anticipated - success that can be attributed to strong leadership and energy backed up by a supportive team.

Lee & Peter Brown, Dream Cream — Hikurangi
Natural and organic skin care

This couple bought the Dream Cream label in July last year as a unique way to diversify production on their small Northland property. In addition to Dream Cream, they also manage citrus, feijoa, apple and pear trees, plus a small number of beef cattle and a hydroponic lettuce operation.

Dream Cream produces a boutique range of skin care products, all of which are 100% natural and organic, and are bottled on-site. While no ingredients are produced on-site, all sourced ingredients are from sustainable suppliers. The couple is working towards distilling essential oils from their fruit trees for use in the product range.

Most products are sold online and, through increased investment in marketing, the business is well positioned for strong future growth.

Kyle & Nitya Nixon, Nature Body — Kerikeri
Emerging business

Nature Body is a family business that is carving a global niche in the burgeoning industry of ethical, natural skincare products.

Nitya has spent the last decade studying and formulating natural remedies to create a unique range of all-natural, organic body care and cleaning products. She and her husband Kyle are committed to sustainable, zero-waste, ethically conscious practices at home and in the business.  

All herbs are grown on-site, with other organic and natural ingredients sourced from ethically focused suppliers. The business has a zero-waste policy, with all product packaging recyclable or compostable.  

Through the growth of their operation, Nitya and Kyle hope to be able to positively influence suppliers and retailers to adopt and share their zero-waste, ethically conscious philosophy.