The $8.1m programme is co-funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, PGG Wrightson Seeds and Seed Force New Zealand.
It is focused on future proofing the profitability, sustainability and wellbeing of New Zealand’s hill country farmers, their farm systems, the environment and rural communities.
Ange McFetridge, Design and Capability Lead for B+LNZ, said the support of Henry, Sofie and their farmer group had been invaluable.
“We wanted to interview a group who were representative of people living in hill country, to help us to future proof our farmers. We were given Henry and Sofie’s names and it was so good to get them on board.
“They put out a request and brought a group of hill country farmers together. We held a face-to-face meeting with them and got a tremendous amount of insights about their aspirations for their farms and hill country farming for the future and also their frustrations.
“The great thing is they have also continued together as a farmer group. They are very free and frank with one another; they are all peers who have ‘come home to farm’, they know about working through succession and the stewardship role they have and really care about what they are doing for future generations.”
Ange and the Nature Positive team then held a second meeting with the group to test plans for the programme.
“By then, the group’s numbers had grown too. We wanted to show them what we had done with their insights and to test some of the conceptual work and deliverables to gain their feedback on the utility of that. It was important to us to validate that we were on the right track and ensure hill country farmers had an active voice in what we were doing.”