It's not easy being a farmer at the best of times but when you are surrounded by townies who just have to look over their back fences to see what you’re up to it is even more important to get it right.
Peter Brice is the farm manager at the ASB Mt Albert Grammar School (MAGS) Farm in the middle of Auckland city.
Its 8.1 hectares milks fewer than 10 cows, has seven chickens, 21 Suffolk ewes, a Gold kiwifruit orchard and a native tree nursery.
But as difficult as it is to be under a microscope, it is probably one of the more interesting if not one of the less labour intensive farm manager positions in the country.
“It’s a pretty unique resource,” Brice says.
“The farm is a multi-million dollar property in the middle of Auckland being used as an educational facility for ag students to get their hands dirty. Here they learn the ropes of various agriculture sectors.”
Funding is allocated by the school but not in a normal way.
“MAGS basically takes money out of its back pocket to keep us going as the farm is in no way profitable so we are extremely lucky that it is supported by the school and a couple of key sponsors. The fact it is still running is awesome.”
The ASB MAGS Farm at Mount Albert Grammar School was established in 1932 when the New Zealand Institute of Horticulture decided city children were losing knowledge of farming practices and asked the school to teach agriculture and horticulture.
The Trustees of Auckland Savings Bank (now ASB) bank bought the land from the Kerr-Taylor family and leases it to the school. In 2013, a 99-year lease was signed for a peppercorn annual rent of $1.
The MAGS farm was given five cows – a Friesian, Jersey, Kiwicross, Shorthorn and an Aryshire by the Kirkham Group from Waikato.