ESAI put on a fantastic event earlier this month as a celebration of the work that’s been achieved in 3 years and to attempt to inspire and reassure farmers in the region.
A crowd of nearly 80 gathered at the Lakeside Soldiers Memorial hall for the evening event. The night kicked off with reflections from Jo Fearn (project coordinator) and David Birkett (ESAI treasurer) on all the success of the Tinaku Project which has been financed by MPI’s Jobs for Nature and Extension funds.
Sarah Perriam-Lampp from the popular Sarah’s Country podcast then took on the hosting role for the rest of the night. Sarah was joined on stage by a panel of guests who she posed topical questions too. Sarah started the event, which was being recorded for the re-launch of her podcast, with the story of her stress-related breakdown just 12 months ago whilst speaking at an event and how she had taken time away from the media and even contemplated giving it up for good but wanting to be a ‘voice for farmers’ had been the motivation to get her back to what she loves, talking to farmers and helping then tell their stories.
Storytelling was the theme of the evening. Hamish Gow a Lincoln University Lecturer encouraged farmers to progress from knowing their customers to connecting and communicating with their consumers.
Tim Jones a consultant from Grow Good, who helps businesses become B Corp certified said many international consumers are now looking for products which they feel connected with, “they want products that tell a story, they want to know their food has been produced by businesses with high considerations for the environment, their workers, their community and governance’.
Mandy Bell, Chair of the NZ Deer Industry and Central Otago Deer farmer said that she could see that the benefits for NZ farmers moving away from just supply chain and instead exploring value chains as an exciting shift.
Rhys Roberts from Align Farms who recently appeared on Country Calendar spoke honestly and openly about the struggles they have faced but was quick to point out that crises and tough times are opportunities to reflect on what is and isn’t working on your farm and to ensure your family and your farm team all contribute to the success of a farming business.
Gladfield Malt’s Gabi & Doug Micheals bought a really down to earth, no nonsense, straight talking quality to the conversations. Gabi, originally from Brazil, talked passionately and emotionally about their journey to building a thriving business. Doug also addressed the importance of involving the whole team in making important decisions and appreciating the impact they have on their wider farming community.
The evening included classic blues and country tunes by local talented musician Henry McIlraith and the delicious food was supplied by the Suburban Eatery in Leeston.
Sarah finished the night with a really positive and encouraging message to all the farmers in the room to keep sharing their experiences and cheering each other on.
Thanks to Isabelle Teresa from the Selwyn Times for the photos and her report on the night.