Read more about our Sharpes Growers.
Mark & Susannah Guscott
Martinborough, Wairarapa, NZ
Maize is a core part of the diverse operation at Glen Eden, run by Mark and Susannah Guscott. They love being a supplier to a family-owned business that shares the same values they do.
The Guscotts plant about 40 hectares of maize a year at their 800 hectare Martinborough farm, supplying about 400 tonnes annually to Sharpes.
Mark says the farm is half flat, half hill country, with a range of sheep & beef stock classes and a bunch of different crops. Diversity and thinking outside the square appeal to him, and he likes a challenge when it comes to farming.
“Our big focus is on producing products people actually want. A large part of our business is lambs to Atkins Ranch, North America.”
Having an agreement, every year, with another locally owned business like Sharpes is good business for them, and Mark says the Sharpes family shares the same values they do. “That’s important to us,” he adds.
“They’re a long-standing business with a culture of thinking differently, not necessarily accepting the status quo, a little bit old-fashioned. I know they produce good quality products, and it’s commercially driven – market led.”
Maize is planted in October and harvested in May, when it is sent to Colton Brothers to be dried before it makes its way to Sharpes and into the bags of quality stock feed.
“We have to grow crops that suit our climate, things that will yield well, make a profit and suit our system. We have a diverse range of crops, which is also good for soil health. I like a bit of a challenge and we can have up to 10 different crops in our rotation.
“Maize is our mainstay in our irrigated ground and it’s water efficient, which means we can make the most of the resources we’ve got. It’s about being efficient and productive at the same time.”
Marks says he gets enjoyment from spotting Sharpes products in-store, knowing they have played a part, in a small way, in the process of getting the product from seed in the ground to finished stock feed.
Mick & Karen Williams
Gladstone, Wairarapa, NZ
Growers Mick and Karen Williams believe the soil is their most valuable asset, and it’s treated as such.
The couple’s 460 hectare farming operation, Ahiaruhe, is a mix of arable farming, growing wheat and barley, and peas, ryegrass and red clover for seed. They also have a livestock finishing component, mostly finishing lambs for Cabernet Foods and Friesian bulls.
The farm is predominantly flat, with irrigation over about 200 hectares.
Soil and water are important resources at Ahiaruhe. “We are 100% no till cropping farmers and believe the soil is our most valuable asset, so we put a lot of thought into how we look after it. Taking care of our soil ensures good water quality outcomes too.”
Once the grain crops have been harvested, multi-species crops are planted for livestock, which has the extra benefit of adding more nutrients back to the soil.
The Williams grow barley and wheat for Sharpes, about 500 tonnes of barley and 120 tonnes of wheat is supplied annually, which represents a significant portion of what they grow.
The family’s relationship with Sharpes is one built up over generations, starting with Mick’s father Jim and carrying on with Mick and his brother, Nathan. As well, Mick and Karen’s children Tom, Ollie and India, have all gone through Gladstone School with the Orsborn children.
The long term relationship, strong family values, and the fact it is a local business tie in nicely with Mick and Karen’s farming philosophy. “It takes the pressure off trying to find new homes each year, and we value long standing relationships and local businesses.
“They (Sharpes) are local, they are innovative, they’re reliable and they’re trustworthy.”
The local aspect is important, he says, not just for local jobs and thriving communities, but with the emphasis on reducing the carbon footprint of produce. “Sending the grain 6km down the road to Sharpes fits well with our philosophy of trying to reduce our impact.”
Like any product sold off farm, Mick says it’s nice to feel a connection through to the end user, and to know you are part of a sustainable production cycle.
Nathan & Kate Williams
Masterton, Wairarapa, NZ
Taking care of the soil comes first for Masterton growers, Nathan and Kate Williams.
The Williams family have a proud history with Sharpes. Nathan’s father Jim was a grower for Sharpes when he became an arable farmer in the 70s, a relationship that continued when he went into partnership with his sons, Nathan and Mick. Now, both Nathan and Mick farm on their own account, and continue to supply Sharpes.
Nathan and Kate’s home farm, Otahuao, is a 340 hectare property on the outskirts of Masterton. They also have 340ha Kahutara farm, Papakowhai, which is run in an equity partnership, lease a further 60ha and share crop an additional 50ha.
The operation is primarily arable, with lamb and cattle finishing, and there is about 400ha of land in crop in total.
It’s very much a soil first approach at Otahuao. “Soil first – that’s looking after everything because that’s what will treat us right in the future. We’re always trying to use the most environmentally friendly practices, while sustaining yields and profitability. We’re also using the most efficient nutrients and crop care we can,” Nathan explains.
The Williams grow feed wheat and feed barley for Sharpes. Things change from year to year, but last year the majority of their 50ha of wheat went to Sharpes, and a good whack of the 210ha of barley too.
Relationships are key for the couple, and the long-standing relationship with Sharpes is important to them.
“Relationships are key for us, dealing with the same people year in, year out. It is an important part of our cropping programme to have relationships that are long enduring and Sharpes is definitely part of that,” Nathan says.
The also value working with a local, family-owned business, and dealing directly with the owners.
“It’s nice to know that our grain is being used in their high quality product and being put directly into the market, so we know where it ends up. We see the Sharpes truck up and down the road and you know you have probably contributed to the product that’s in it.”
Nathan also enjoys being involved with an innovative business that is on the same page as them, and aligns with their values. “They care for the environment and look after their people and staff, and that’s good for the community. They are like-minded people (to us) and that lines up with our values – no till, environment, soil, people and family – they’re all high on our priority list.”
Geoff McKay & Joanna Gillanders
Masterton, Wairarapa, NZ
Cropping plays an important role for Masterton growers Geoff McKay and Joanna Gillanders, who run a diverse farming operation.
The 800 hectare home farm, Greenfields, is located on the Whangaheu Valley-Bideford Road, just five minutes from Masterton. There is about 200ha of flat, with the balance hill country.
Predominantly sheep and beef, cropping adds valuable diversification to the operation. “It’s sheep and beef breeding and finishing, with a bit of trading. We trade lambs, fatten our own stock and grow crops,” Geoff explains.
The couple has grown peas when possible, as well as 70-80ha of feed barley, averaging about 8 tonne/ha, all of which goes to Sharpes. A portion of the harvest goes straight from the paddock to Sharpes, while the rest is stored in on-farm silos and is available as needed.
A big benefit of growing the crops is it aids in pasture rotation, as well as being profitable, which Geoff says is a win-win.
“We get on very well with Sam (Orsborn) at Sharpes. The summer harvest goes down to Sharpes and any surplus goes into our own silos.”
Like many of the Sharpes growers, the relationship is an enduring one. “It’s local. We know Sam and Sara, my father used to deal with Alastair, and it works. It’s a good relationship and we sell direct to them, which is a benefit. If Sam is short, he can ring us up and we’ll send some barley down.
“Building up relationships is what it’s all about. They know our product – they know what they’re getting when they buy local barley.”
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