Selling quality product at the Farmers’ market

Couple enjoy living as organically as possible

Couple enjoy living as organically as possible

ORGANIC BEEF FARMERS: Steve and Carol Ring, who own White Rose Organics, have over 100 Dexter cattle at their 72-hectare property and a breeding operation that sees that number increase each season. Photo by Paul Rickard

EVERY day, organic beef farmers Steve and Carol Ring are that little bit closer to being self-sufficient.

The couple from Yorkshire immigrated to Gisborne 14 years ago and now, by their own admission, are living the good life.

They were drawn initially by a job for Steve as a design engineer. These days though, they farm organic Dexter cattle, selling everything they produce at Gisborne’s popular Farmers’ Market each Saturday.

Carol only recently gave up her work at the native Garden Nursery while Steve does seasonal work at Kaiaponi.

When they first settled in New Zealand they had a six-hectare block at Ormond where they ran Dexter cattle for themselves.

“They are a dual purpose animal which hail originally from Ireland, so can live on the smell of an oily rag,” says Carol.

They are also quite light-footed, don’t mess the ground, and are quiet. However, back then, they weren’t so common.

Eventually, they found a breeder and their three cattle were believed to be the first Dexters in Gisborne.

Fast forward 14 years and they now have over 100 Dexter cattle at their 72-hectare property and a breeding operation that sees that number increase each season.

“Initially, we were just producing beef for ourselves, but in 2010 we decided we had more than we needed, felt it tasted really good so thought we should find a way of selling it.”

It was the early days of fresh beef being sold at Farmers’ Markets in New Zealand and they found there were plenty of hoops to be jumped through before their dream became a reality.

The name of their business — White Rose Organics — pays homage to their Yorkshire roots.

Each week, Steve and Carol sell out of everything — a variety of cuts of beef and speciality sausages that have a following of their own.

Their cattle beasts used to be killed in Hamilton, but 18 months ago that facility closed down forcing the stock to Auckland.

The Rings have recently hit a snag though, as the owners of a new abattoir are insisting they will accept a minimum of 10 animals at a time . . . the Gisborne couple send three to four every three weeks.

“We went back to them explaining their decision would put us out of business and they have given us a year’s grace to find another solution.”

The Rings have found a possible solution in Hamilton where a home kill abattoir is attempting to get a licence to process animals for public consumption.

“Unfortunately, they have currently reached a stalemate with MPI. We are trying to co-ordinate with all these other people like us who just want small numbers of animals killed, to be able to use this abattoir.”

It’s not viable for them to do their own killing because of the regulations and compliance required.

Once slaughtered, the beef comes back to Gisborne to be processed at the Ballance Street Butchery.

“People are over the moon at being able to buy our product at the markets,” says Carol.

The Rings are looking to expand their operation, and contemplating heading to similar Farmers’ Markets in the not too distant future.

They have also introduced some Galloway Friesian cross cows to give the Dexters a little more height and are nearing the end of the obligatory three-year process to have their new property fully certified as a producer of organic produce. The couple also produce free-range pork.

Their cows are being milked, for their own consumption, and Carol is making cheese from some of it.

“Our veggie garden is in and each year we are getting closer and closer to being self-sufficient.”

It’s probably no surprise they have ended up here, doing what they love. Carol grew up on an organic dairy farm with her parents, while Steve also has a link with the land.

“We both had a little bit of a farming background,” says Carol, “but when we were first married, we lived away from the land — although we did try to live as organically as possible.”

Then they grew their own vegetables through allotments and sought out organic meat where they could.

Now it is them who are sought after by those keen to follow a similar path.

EVERY day, organic beef farmers Steve and Carol Ring are that little bit closer to being self-sufficient.

The couple from Yorkshire immigrated to Gisborne 14 years ago and now, by their own admission, are living the good life.

They were drawn initially by a job for Steve as a design engineer. These days though, they farm organic Dexter cattle, selling everything they produce at Gisborne’s popular Farmers’ Market each Saturday.

Carol only recently gave up her work at the native Garden Nursery while Steve does seasonal work at Kaiaponi.

When they first settled in New Zealand they had a six-hectare block at Ormond where they ran Dexter cattle for themselves.

“They are a dual purpose animal which hail originally from Ireland, so can live on the smell of an oily rag,” says Carol.

They are also quite light-footed, don’t mess the ground, and are quiet. However, back then, they weren’t so common.

Eventually, they found a breeder and their three cattle were believed to be the first Dexters in Gisborne.

Fast forward 14 years and they now have over 100 Dexter cattle at their 72-hectare property and a breeding operation that sees that number increase each season.

“Initially, we were just producing beef for ourselves, but in 2010 we decided we had more than we needed, felt it tasted really good so thought we should find a way of selling it.”

It was the early days of fresh beef being sold at Farmers’ Markets in New Zealand and they found there were plenty of hoops to be jumped through before their dream became a reality.

The name of their business — White Rose Organics — pays homage to their Yorkshire roots.

Each week, Steve and Carol sell out of everything — a variety of cuts of beef and speciality sausages that have a following of their own.

Their cattle beasts used to be killed in Hamilton, but 18 months ago that facility closed down forcing the stock to Auckland.

The Rings have recently hit a snag though, as the owners of a new abattoir are insisting they will accept a minimum of 10 animals at a time . . . the Gisborne couple send three to four every three weeks.

“We went back to them explaining their decision would put us out of business and they have given us a year’s grace to find another solution.”

The Rings have found a possible solution in Hamilton where a home kill abattoir is attempting to get a licence to process animals for public consumption.

“Unfortunately, they have currently reached a stalemate with MPI. We are trying to co-ordinate with all these other people like us who just want small numbers of animals killed, to be able to use this abattoir.”

It’s not viable for them to do their own killing because of the regulations and compliance required.

Once slaughtered, the beef comes back to Gisborne to be processed at the Ballance Street Butchery.

“People are over the moon at being able to buy our product at the markets,” says Carol.

The Rings are looking to expand their operation, and contemplating heading to similar Farmers’ Markets in the not too distant future.

They have also introduced some Galloway Friesian cross cows to give the Dexters a little more height and are nearing the end of the obligatory three-year process to have their new property fully certified as a producer of organic produce. The couple also produce free-range pork.

Their cows are being milked, for their own consumption, and Carol is making cheese from some of it.

“Our veggie garden is in and each year we are getting closer and closer to being self-sufficient.”

It’s probably no surprise they have ended up here, doing what they love. Carol grew up on an organic dairy farm with her parents, while Steve also has a link with the land.

“We both had a little bit of a farming background,” says Carol, “but when we were first married, we lived away from the land — although we did try to live as organically as possible.”

Then they grew their own vegetables through allotments and sought out organic meat where they could.

Now it is them who are sought after by those keen to follow a similar path.

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