On the next episode, screening 3 September 2017 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:
Meat and Greet
Steve Olds spends every weekend away from his family selling meat at farmers’ markets while his wife Pip looks after their sheep and beef farm and their young children.
The couple live this way because they have to, for the meantime at least.
When Steve and Pip bought the 140-hectare farm near Eketahuna in Wairarapa in 2006, they named it Dunromin.
They felt it was time to put down roots, have a family and give their children the sort of childhood they’d both loved themselves.
They relocated an old villa to the site to give them an affordable family home, which was soon filled with three happy children who all enjoyed life on the farm.
But Steve says that they bought at the peak of the market and prices have been static ever since. On top of that, severe drought and plunging lamb prices put paid to the notion that they could simply farm their way out of trouble.
Steve also had a full-time job as a stock agent, but they were still struggling financially and soon realised that they had to generate better returns from the land, or walk away from the place they loved.
That was where the idea of marketing their own meat came in.
Steve says their company, Eketahuna Country Meats, has been timely because customers increasingly want to know where their food comes from. As a result, revenue has doubled every year since they started in 2012.
At first they employed contract butchers to process their meat while they developed a website to generate online sales. Now, with growing sales, Pip and Steve have built their own butchery in Masterton and employed a butcher, Willie Riddell, to process all their meat for them.
They have partnered with another farm, Glenburn Station, to ensure they can supply lamb and Angus beef 12 months of the year. They also employ local hunters to supply wild venison and goat, and with Freedom Farms to provide free-range pork products.
After 27 years as a butcher, Willie loves working in a business that puts quality ahead of quantity. He says he gets great job satisfaction being asked to make a product so good that customers keep coming back for more.
Steve says their meat tastes like meat used to taste, partly because the beef is left hanging for at least two weeks before being processed and vacuum packed for sale.
As sales increase, the demands of the business take up all their time. Pip looks after online sales and marketing as well as looking after Jimmy 8, Izzie, 6 and Guy, 3.
Steve works full-time Monday to Friday as a Wrightsons stock agent, spends weekends at farmers’ markets in Wellington, and somehow fits running their own farm into the few gaps left.
But they hope their hard work will eventually build the business to the point where they can employ more help, creating a better work-life balance.
Steve cheerfully states that their five-year goal is to have a family holiday together.
For more about Steve and Pip’s meat, visit:www.eketahunacountrymeats.co.nz
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