Organic Dairy Hub (ODH) is set to experience its best year ever, says executive director and shareholder Sharon Shannon.
The hub is not only seeking to add more farmers to its co-operative but also increase opportunities and markets for products.
“The opportunities for Organic Dairy Hub going forward are pretty exciting and this year will be one of our biggest,” she says.
Organic Dairy Hub, a 100% New Zealand farmer owned co-operative, was formed in 2015.
Sharon says that farmers are at the forefront of everything that the co-op does and that being a smaller co-operative allows ODH to really listen to what its farmers are saying and respond accordingly.
“All our farms are Kiwi family run operations, some of which span generations and our values reflect that. All our farmers know each other and there’s a real family feel. This has made the co-operative very strong so we can be the creators of our own futures.”
She points out that all the farms in ODH are certified organic by BioGro or AssureQuality.
“Currently in New Zealand there is no regulation around what can be called ‘organic’. People who want to be absolutely sure about what is going into their food should look for the certified organic logo when purchasing organic product ,” she explains.
“Our farms are certified to USDA standards and this guarantees that our milk is produced without the use of antibiotics, genetic modification and synthetic fertiliser, insecticides or pesticides. It is the mark of a genuine organic product and is internationally recognised and accredited. Our farmers go through a rigorous audit each year.”
Of course all of this enhances the way that ODH farmers farm, she says.
By using a mixed species pasture system and a regular tree planting programme the aim is to create a balanced eco system, both above ground and in the living soil, says Sharon.
“We believe cows should be as close to nature as possible, eating natural food. There can be up to 50 plus species of grass and plants in our pastures to provide animals with a full range of nutrients.
“By planting hedgerows on our farms our cows have the opportunity to vertically graze and self medicate. For example the bark of willow trees provides an internal parasite control.”
She says the results from the testing done on ODH organic milk and powder has revealed a very different nutrient profile compared with regular milk.
ODH supplies milk into the leading brands in New Zealand including Pamu, Lewis Road Creamery, Meadow Fresh, Naturalea Goodman Fielder, Puhoi and Green Valley Dairies.
ODH will supply all the organic milk for Waiu, the new Kawerau Dairy factory, as well as continuing to supply milk powder to the international market.
She says ODH is also a keen supporter of smaller yet growing brands such as Raglan Chocolate, Wellington Chocolate Factory and The Cheese Barn.
Sharon says that she sees a big future for ODH as consumers are increasingly demanding full traceability of their food and wanting a closer connecting to where their food comes from something that ODH can supply.
She says ODH is looking to diversify into different products beyond liquid milk and is in the developmental stages of creating new products.
“Our vision now is to diversify and grow a range of products from our farms while continuing to do what our farmers do best – live and breathe sustainable organic farming practices with a focus to deliver quality products for the consumer to enjoy. ”
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