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Diversity personified at Coatbridge

Diversity personified at Coatbridge

Family owned Coatbridge Station, in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley, is a diverse operation thanks to a couple of historical happenings which had the Adams family looking at different options for their sheep and beef property.

The 1600ha property has been in the Adams family since 1851 and is now being run as a real family business by its fifth and sixth generations, Geoff and Liz and their sons Scott and Whitley. The seventh generation has just made an appearance too, with the birth of Whitley’s son in July last year.

In the early days of the sheep and beef farm, the Adams family diversified into the flax industry in the late 1800s. It was a roaring success that allowed the family to freehold a lot of what had been leased land.

The technological boom in agricultural machinery and research at the end of WWII meant tractors were now available to help develop land at Coatbridge and expand the operation.

Sheep numbers reached 7000 at their peak. By 1984, the effects of Rogernomics on the agriculture industry had the Adams family looking for a way to sustain their business. “Dad had to work pretty hard to keep everything together in these periods,” says Scott.

“He was set on wanting to retain what was the original land holding, and thanks to his hard work and stubbornness of holding on to the farm, today we are on the block my grandad inherited, and we’ve expanded on that block.”

Today the farm on the north bank of the Wairau River runs sheep and beef, honey, 24ha of sauvignon blanc vines, forestry, gravel extraction, as well as Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI) forestry, which regenerates native forests for carbon credits. “We are all in it for the big picture,” Scott says.

Diversity personified at Coatbridge

“Whitley and I will get to see 200 years on this property!” The grapes were brought in in 2006 to diversify the family business.

Scott says as they become more involved, they are gaining more and more knowledge and it’s becoming more and more interesting.

But his heart is in stock, and the Adams family are traditionally pastoral farmers. They are now running 2000 breeding ewes, 600 replacements, and 40 to 50 head of fattening beef cattle. “Which we would like to increase a bit,” Scott says.

“We’ve had a recent change of system with another 24ha recently acquired when an opportunity arose with some land on our boundary, so we can increase cattle numbers.”

Scott is involved with Federated Farmers and has been for the past six years.

Having recently turned 32, he says he was the only one under 30 to attend the monthly meetings for a long time, and now is the only one under 40.

He says farmers are time poor and they have commitments outside their business which prevent them from being more involved in Federated Farmers, but for him, it was important to know what is happening outside the farm gate, to know what he could do inside the farm gate.

“Federated Farmers has done that for me, and I think that’s what other farmers get from it as well,” he says.

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