Lighthouse Farms

This workstream involves the delivery of 15 pilot lighthouse farm plans from leading
farmers in the catchment. 

This approach brings together into a story the great things that leading farmers are
already doing, and then igniting further innovation: by exploring possibilities of
stretch thinking based on current and future practices that will replenish the land
and the water while protecting the asset for future generations.

Lighthouse Farmer – Leighton Oats

Leighton Oats has a wealth of experience in horticulture, having managed kiwifruit orchards for 22 years, three of which were spent offshore in Italy. In addition to his kiwifruit expertise, he has also accrued ten years managing avocado orchards.

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James Burke, our Lighthouse Farmer

Meet James Burke, who has been on a journey of restoring biology and biodiversity to create farm resilience. James has been running two complementary blocks for beef finishing. This is when the cow gains its final weight before slaughter. These blocks have a mix of forestry, riparian, retired areas, and pasture. He manages several different blocks of land, totaling 120 ha.

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Meet our Lighthouse Farmer, Richard Fowler

Richard is a 3rd generation farmer and, along with his wife Amy, he’s been dairy farming for 15 years. Richard qualified with a Bachelor of Agriculture from Lincoln University and then spent around five years working for Landcorp, in both Canterbury and then southern Bay of Plenty. 

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Meet our Lighthouse Farmers: Brad and Rachel Strange

Brad and Rachel Strange, in partnership with Robyn Denham, are farming in the headwaters of the Kaikokopu sub-catchment on a 166 ha property of which 148 ha is effective. The non-effective area includes 14.3 ha of regenerating natives. 

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Meet our Lighthouse Farmers: Paul and Pip Walker

Paul and Pip Walker have been farming on their 93 ha dairy farm since 2005. In 2021/22, they added another 20 ha, giving them 113 ha total. 

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Meet our Lighthouse Farmers: Stan and Jocelyn Eichler

Stan and Jocelyn Eichler have been dairy farming in the Pongakawa since 1995. During this time, they have increased their land area, adding three blocks to the original farm, while developing a top-quality dairy Jersey herd.

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Meet James and Donna Wilkins, Our Lighthouse Farmers

James and Donna are our farmers in the Pongakawa catchment. The family have a spring calving dairy herd currently transitioning to autumn calving on 75 ha with 18 ha of kiwifruit. James’s lighthouse farm plan (developed by the Wai Kokopu team) and catchment days have inspired them to improve some of their on-farm systems. 

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Meet John and Margaret Scrimgeour, Our Lighthouse Farmers

John started his farming career in Golden Bay in 1969, before moving to the Bay of Plenty in 1980, and finally settling at their current property in 1989. Land use at John and Margaret’s farm is very diverse, with plantation forestry, kiwifruit and avocados, a seasonal 400-cow dairy herd, and dairy support.

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Meet Kiri Tapsell, Our Lighthouse Farmer

Pukenga Farms, situated at Maketū bordering the Kaikokopu Stream, runs beef and kiwifruit. Kiri and his family have a proactive approach to protecting the environment and are keen to learn and adopt farm systems that provide long-term sustainability for the family and the estuary. Read more about Pukenga Farms and their good work.

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Meet Dayna Rowe, Our Lighthouse Farmer

At 23, Dayna Rowe manages the family’s 930-cow dairy farm at Pongakawa and is already making a name for herself with some top industry awards to her name. Since her start at 19 as a dairy assistant, then moving into herd management at 20/21 and managing the family farm by 22, it’s been a swift rise in the ranks, but Dayna says she's had to work extra hard to prove she deserves to be taken seriously. 

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Meet Tim and Mel Cumming, our Lighthouse Farmers

Farming on Old Coach Road, Tim and Mel Cumming run a 287 Kiwi Cross/Friesian herd on a milking platform of 85 ha alongside a small number of dry stock on 6 ha of sidlings. The farm straddles the Pongakawa Stream. Tim and Mel have been on the property for 12 years, tweaking their farm system and keeping an open mind as to what changes need to happen in order to make their farming operation environmentally sustainable. 

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Lighthouse Farm meeting and end of year get-together

It was great to see so many at our end of year Lighthouse Farmer Meeting. More than 40 people met at Rowe Farms in Pongakawa for an outline of Grant Rowe and daughter Dayna's farming system and what they're doing differently.

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