Saturday, April 13, 2024

They grab every opportunity

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Driving their business to grow and intensify while keeping true to their farming values for Mt Somers Station is a challenge for David and Kate Acland who are also heavily involved in both their local community and wider industry groups. They talked to Annette Scott.
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Mt Somers Station is a 3800 hectare family property in the heart of the Mid Canterbury foothills. 

The Acland family has farmed the fully integrated property with proud traditions of caring for their land, environment and people for almost 40 years.

The philosophy has always been to farm with minimal impact, recognising that to farm sustainably they must farm profitably and remain open to change as they take a 100-year view on their farming business decisions.

David and Kate took over the running of the station from David’s parents, the late Mark and Jo Acland, who bought part of the station in 1983. 

The property was relatively underdeveloped with limited housing and no deer fencing. 

Mark, a deer farming pioneer, did a lot of development and the first deer arrived on the property in August 1983, when deer farming was in its infancy. 

The Aclands bought the rest of the station in 2002 from the Burnett Estate, the same year David returned home to the farm.

In its core business today David and Kate run 9000 Romney breeding ewes, 2500 hoggets, a Red deer finishing unit, a pure Hereford beef cattle finishing operation and an 850-cow dairy herd. 

The property includes 500ha of native vegetation and beech forest retired from grazing but providing food for the 400 hives producing manuka and honeydew honeys in addition to the clover honey produced from the lower terraces. There’s also a forestry block. 

Off the farm there’s a winery, a wool business with blankets made of 100% pure lambs’ wool grown on Mt Somers Station and spun and woven in NZ. 

Then there’s the station’s farm shop and cafe at nearby Staveley and the couple have recently taken ownership of the local general store, cafe and fuel pumps in the small rural town of Mt Somers.

Both David and Kate have long realised the importance of off-farm involvement with David pursuing his interest in farming politics on Federated Farmers national meat and fibre executive and as vice-chairman of Feds Mid Canterbury and chairman of the meat and fibre section.

Mt Somers Romney lamb wool blankets are going out the door like hotcakes with 1500 sold this year at both the Acland local stores and outlets around NZ.

“This is part of telling that story and the story of agriculture, and you have to keep life and farming – fun and interesting.

“Diversity is what we enjoy. We are both projects people and driven by what we want for our children and their children and the generations to come on this land.” she said.

“Despite the current external pressures it is a great lifestyle and we want our children to realise that farming and growing good food is a noble profession,” David said. 

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