Western Southland, South Island, New Zealand
Rosanne Allen and Peter Fowle run a 400-hectare farm, farming sheep, beef, and deer, located in the Western Southland area of the South Island, New Zealand.
In the early 2000s, the government established a support network to help grow the organic sector and meet market demand. When this was announced, Rosanne and Peter thought that it was perfect timing to delve into it and bring another market opportunity to the farm. By 2007, after generations of conventional farming, they were proudly organically certified farmers.
There were some challenges in their organic journey, but they found one of the biggest was their own pre-conceptions of farming and moving the mindset from productivity numbers to profitability numbers. "That first year we dropped our ewe numbers and, ironically, ended up with about the same number of lambs out of the gate." Less numbers meant the pressure had come off a bit and performance had improved, while at the same time we were learning to shift the focus to soil health and pasture quality for optimum animal health.
Rosanne and Peter have many things to be proud of since becoming organic farmers. It brings them great joy to know that they’ve been farming with good environmental practices for the past 15 years. They feel quite comfortable now, knowing that organic farming ticks a lot of boxes. They have proven to themselves that if done correctly, it can be a very viable and profitable system without the need for synthetic nitrogen. Most importantly, they find it extremely rewarding to produce good food for human health.