Muriwai Valley Farm is one of the flagship sites, demonstrating best- practice.
Northland Biological Farming Group and is also involved in a number of other groups with interests in sustainable farming and food. The IKHMG (Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group) is one of them. Muriwai Valley Farm is one of their flagship sites which helps to demonstrate sustainable best-practice that mitigates contaminants entering the Kaipara Harbour.
She works with Local Food Northland too, which runs the excellent farmers’ markets in Whangarei, and a local food co-op that has been going for a couple of years. She’s also involved in the mobile abattoir initiative.
Until this is up and running, she’s decided to put more of her efforts into getting the message out there through farm consultancy.
Bev is going back to her roots with consulting. Her UK background is in ecology, in particular, combining it with biological farming methods. After 20 years in New Zealand, she’s well versed in native flora and fauna, so can help people get the best from their farm through land, livestock and soil management, and help to provide a haven for wildlife.
Bev and Dave walk the talk in many other ways at Muriwai Valley Farm. They both drive electric cars, and solar power is widely used on the farm. They have charming accommodation for WWOOFERS, or those wanting to be educated in the ways of biological farming. They’ve planted many thousands of native trees and fenced off bush and wetlands.
Exciting – and imminent – plans include subdividing an area of the farm into six freehold lots of 1-2ha (2.5-5 acres)
and selling to like-minded people.
“We’re thinking that whoever buys the blocks of land would have the option to be involved to whatever level works for them, hopefully with a shared vision of sustainable country living,” says Bev.
Bev and Dave have built a kind of ‘show home’ which is fully off-grid, as all the houses would have to be as part of the council consent. They’ll eventually have an electric charging station for cars too. Buyers will build their own homes on ecological principles in this beautiful environment and will hopefully bring some type of add-on enterprise too, like a market garden or orchard (to augment the existing food forest), or perhaps freerange table ducks, or hens for eggs.
Bev has just planted 4ha (10 acres) of high-umf manuka, so bees will definitely be part of the community’s future too.
“There’s potentially so much to gain in a good synergistic group,” says Bev. “You don’t need to be an experienced farmer, just be keen! And there may be other roles – marketing perhaps – which could work.” But pet lovers beware. “No cats!” stipulates Bev. Native fauna will be fiercely protected.
Bev’s work is impressive, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed. At the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in March, she won three out of nine awards: the Beef & Lamb NZ Livestock award, the Auckland Council Water Quality Enhancement Award, and the Massey University Innovation Award. It’s a hugely rewarding result for an exceptional farmer with an inspiring vision.
Bev and Dave have built an off-grid ‘show home’ as part of their future plans to subdivide part of the farm for like-minded people.
There’s potentially so much to gain in a good synergistic group.