For Grant and Bernie Weller of Riversdale, Southland, forcing themselves outside their comfort zones has allowed them to deliver results they never believed possible. “We really have the Growfarm® System to thank for helping us to push our own boundaries so that we could discover just what we are really capable of,” says Grant. “Growfarm® has supplied us with the environment, the culture, the systems and the coaching to be the best we can be.”
Grant, Bernie and their three daughters farm 890 ha of tussock Hokonui hills and a small area of flats. They won the 2011 Southland Farm Environment Awards, then went on to become the Supreme winners of the New Zealand Farm Environment Awards. “For a while now it has been our resolve to build a sustainable and environmentally conscious farm business that is inspirational to New Zealand farmers,” relates Grant. “Too often farming is portrayed as a negative industry and it is no wonder NZ has very few young people interested in giving farming a go. It is important to us that farming is shown to be an amazing business – one that is very profitable and can provide everything you need and want from life.”
The Wellers picked up on the Growfarm® system almost immediately. “What struck us both at our first Growfarm® Regional Mastermind Meeting with other Growfarm® Clients,” shares Bernie, “was the positive vibe of the group we were with. Everyone was involved and it was obviously a culture where both husband and wife are equally committed. There is an evident support network and a willingness to share opportunities and expertise. We were quite blown away. That is so important, as is ProfitLIVE – Growfarm®’s live online system – but it is the coaching part that we want to emphasise.”
Grant continues, “The coaching in itself has been hugely beneficial. It has allowed us to move outside of our self imposed boundaries and has helped us to step up and make some necessary changes.” We value that extra voice from someone we trust, providing confidence and a sounding board. We are inspired to get on with what is most important to us.”
“We have learned how to build a farm system that allows us to be ahead of the game, regardless of what the climate or the market values for livestock are doing. Those two things are always changing but we have learned that by following a simple pattern and being prepared, our profit can flow in any year. We know when our profit periods are and we do what it takes to make sure we are set up for those. Our quality breeding stock need to achieve certain condition targets at certain times, the pasture needs to be at certain cover and quality targets at four key times in the year and we need to prepare so those targets actually happen. Full feeding of our livestock at the profit periods is very important. It is not good enough to just hope we get there and say “there is always next year,” if we don’t!”
“We are also building a high meat yielding flock and herd producing high quality cuts for market, producing nutritious pasture from balanced soil and looking after our land for our future. This all means we have a long term sustainable business for our family. We wouldn’t be doing anything else!”
“What is crucial for us is we were given the help to do it but we had to make the effort ourselves! The benefits personally just in self-reliance and awareness have been immense” says Grant. “We have more knowledge, are more informed and educated, and as a result we have more confidence. This has led to confidence in good decision making and confidence in how to portray our business.”
The Wellers now have a clear pathway for the future through improving profitable farm decision making and thinking proactively as business owners. Bernie adds, "Most of all it excites us that we still have a lot more to learn. We are only just getting started. The best is yet to come!"