Town meets country at Belmont Regional Park
Belmont Regional Park farm licence holders Dion and Ali Kilmister are striving to reduce the urban-rural gap, and what better place for that than a farm that is run inside a public park.
Dion and Ali run seven farms across the lower North Island and were the recently able to share their story on the well-known Hyundai Country Calendar.
The couple have 5000 ewes and 300 cows plus replacements at Greater Wellington Regional Council's Belmont park. Dion is the "head honcho and chief lamb grower" of the two while Ali is a city girl turned country and manages "all things sales and marketing".
"Being at Belmont has been a real eye-opener for us. Because the farm is in a public park our farm manager Kerry gets to interact a lot with park users.
"Kerry gets a lot of enjoyment out of educating the public on how farming works now - that's where we see people's enthusiasm for what we do come out."
Once Dion left school he took a job at the first farm that would take him and his dreams have grown bigger ever since.
"We run seven farms which span across 200 kilometres. Thirteen years ago I leased 300 hectares in Masterton - we have built this up with sweat and hard work."
As owners and operators of Homegrown Farmfresh Meats Dion and Ali put their skills on show at this year's Greater Wellington Battle Hill Farm Day.
"We took a whole lamb carcass with us and had a butcher slice meat into different cuts. We then cooked it and offered taste testers to the crowd. This is something people who live in the city wouldn't get to see very often.
"This day gave us the chance to explain our farming practices too. It's about sharing our story and trying to help close that urban-rural gap. One way to achieve this is by getting people who live in the city out to the farm and showing them what we do day to day."
Greater Wellington Environment Committee chair Sue Kedgley says it was no surprise the pair were picked to spotlight on Country Calendar after they received a number of awards, including Keinzley Agvet Sheep and Beef Farm Business of the Year 2018 for sustainable and environmental practices.
"It is great to see Dion and Ali running an Assure Quality accredited farm operation and striving to be leaders in best practice with animal welfare and environmental sustainability, which is something we encourage and support at Greater Wellington."
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