About 16 months ago, BayBuzz asked CHB farmer Greg Hart to describe what his farm, Mangarara Station, might look like ten years into the future. He wrote this visionary piece … The Family Farm in 2030.

Since we published that article online, it has been read 2,243 times, making it the second-most read article in our online library. Clearly something Greg said struck a nerve!

Here’s a prediction he made:

“Changing our farm debt from the interest-sucking Australian banks that took over $1,000 for every man, woman and child in New Zealand through the 20-teens was the first change we made.

“Parents who had financed us into the farm remained our main backers, but we created a Limited Partnership which enabled a group of passionate change-makers to join The Family Farm team and invest in a better future. We developed the farm to become a model of Regenerative Agriculture and created a thriving ‘Agrihood’ with a diverse range of land based enterprises, which has enabled other families to live and generate their livelihoods off the once-traditional sheep and beef farm.

“While the farm has remained profitable financially, this group understands that wealth is much more then dollars and cents. Financial profits are distributed to shareholders after ensuring the environment and the community around the farm are taken care of.”

And in partnership with Tremain Capital led by Chris Tremain, Greg and wife Rachel have indeed launched down this path.

Chris has assembled a small group of investors to back the continuing evolution of Mangarara via a limited partnership. Says Chris: “This is a new investment opportunity in a sector with low cash returns, so it won’t be for everyone. But we are seeing increasing investor interest in environmental improvement and regenerative farming definitely ticks this box.”

The Hart/Tremain team is just getting started, but Tremain sees his investors as seeking to shape the future of NZ farming, with profit being just one goal.

And in Greg, they’re backing someone of uncommon vision. As Chris told BayBuzz: “Greg and Rach don’t just talk about sustainability, they live and breath it at Mangarara Station. We could not provide a better exemplar of regenerative Farming and what can be achieved.”

Greg Hart

As anyone familiar with Greg knows, he takes a very holistic view of what ‘profit’ means in farming – financial, yes, but restorative to the land and socially beneficial as well. Including so-called regenerative farming practices but leading to something far more encompassing that Greg in his article calls the ‘Agrihood’.

“Further out on the farm, the 20 hectares that was developed in the early 2020’s as an Agrihood is now providing community and meaningful lives for another 10 families. This group of pioneers came from a range of backgrounds with a diverse set of skills and experiences. The one thing they all had in common was the understanding of the need to live more lightly on the earth and the opportunity to play an active role in healing the earth and society. Their eco-friendly homes were built from macrocarpa milled on the farm and other local materials. And they are off-grid, powered by a network of renewable energy … The Agrihood at Mangarara is largely self-sufficient in food and also supplies a cooperative store at Elsthorpe and local farmers markets in the weekends.”

It would seem Mangarara offers a unique blend of utopianism and capitalism. Hawke’s Bay is fortunate to have this experiment unfolding in our back yard.

Greg made another prediction in his BayBuzz piece:

“The Agrihood has become a model that has been replicated and adapted to many farms all around New Zealand.”

For the sake of NZ farming, we hope he’s right about that!

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