Titoki was purchased in 2016 by Auckland investors with no farming experience. They made up for their lack of farming knowledge with their passion and concern for health and wellness. From the very beginning the owners had a vision for Titoki to become a vehicle to showcase alternative farming and food production methods in answer to traditional systems that have become industrialised and many consider to be broken. They didn’t want to farm in a ‘conventional’ manner because they believed industrialised agriculture wasn’t for people and planet.
Titoki is a famous and iconic beef and sheep property and it was ready for its new owners to give it an overhaul. Enter Hugh Jellie and Āta who provided a long term plan to enable the property to move towards the regenerative production of healthy nutritious food from a farm with very low animal and environmental impacts.
"It's easy for people to distance themselves from the problem. Most people aren't farmers and don't think about these issues daily. But it's the food choices we make every day that feed into our farming practices."
Āta began the project with extensive soil sampling to measure the health of existing soils and water ways. After assessment and analysis it was decided to undertake remedial treatment of the soil with natural products. These included lime, vermicast, chicken manure and animal impact, which were all used as tools to begin rebuilding the soil health of Titoki.
Holistic grazing commenced ensuring pastures were not over grazed. Diversification of pastures began by adding different plant species across the property. There are now multiple (>25) pasture species in most paddocks. This was a dramatic improvement. The increased animal productivity and improving animal health culminated in a major reduction in the need for preventative treatments, reducing the cost of production on-farm and validating the principals of Āta.
The Titoki operation is the first Savory EOV accredited farm in New Zealand. Today, it is a diversified farming enterprise, which includes sheep, beef cattle, egg laying hens, bees, timber and cashmere goats.
The existing pine plantation monoculture was removed and replaced with a mix of native trees suiting the production of traditional medicines. Nut trees were also added and they will allow under grazing and shelter for the farm’s animals.
Over the course of the project Āta has forged a strong relationship with the Savory Institute and Hugh Jellie has become an accredited professional responsible for the Savory hub, EOV accreditation and is leading the development of the Land to Market program in New Zealand.
Āta’s core principles have been developed to ensure natural systems are not separated from each other. Thinking and acting this way provides nature with the chance to perform for farmers and all types of producers who rely on the land and sea for their livelihood and futures.
After 3 years of constantly measured improvement in pasture growth and production and with all the ecological indicators showing improvement, Titoki Farm is on tack to become a sustainable, profitable, diversified farming operation.
Jim is the Founder and CEO of Triple Nine Farms. Triple Nine Farms is a privately funded research project aimed at disrupting and innovating the red meat business model to improve the way value is allocated in the channels between farmers and consumers.