What started out as a backyard hobby for the Venter family of Cheviot has turned into a thriving business and a dedicated passion for regenerative agriculture. In 2016, Kobus and Julie Venter purchased 12 hens for their young son Jack.
With a focus on making social, ethical and environmentally positive food choices, the couple were keen to show Jack (and, later, his sister Anna) where nutritious food comes from.
It wasn’t long before the family saw the benefits – for the hens, their eggs and the environment – of their free-range, open pasture lifestyle. In 2019 they moved to their current property, significantly increased their flock size and set about creating a regenerative agriculture model with their chickens. Here, hens regularly rotate paddocks following sheep and cattle. By scratching through the manure and consuming worms, fly larvae and grubs, the farm’s parasites and flies are kept to a minimum and the hens disperse nutrients evenly while getting a well-rounded omnivorous diet of grass, seeds, grain and natural proteins. This symbiotic relationship was a huge paradigm shift for the family, says Kobus.
They starting selling their eggs and quickly found that customers loved the taste, the nutrient-density and the commitment to animal and environmental welfare that Jacks Eggs promises, while chefs adored the firmness of the eggs during cooking.
With around 1200 hens laying in 2021, Jack’s Eggs distributes over 200 dozen eggs each week to restaurants and cafes in Kaikoura, Amberley, Cheviot and Christchurch, as well direct to customers at the Amberley Farmers’ Market.
With expansion plans and improvements always on the horizon, Kobus is also working on sharing the message, processes and importance of regenerative farming through his role as a Regenerative Agriculture Consultant. “Our aim is to help consumers understand what regenerative agriculture really looks like. In time we hope we can help other famers on their regenerative journey, showing them that it is possible to increase biodiversity, improve soil health, and increase the water holding capacity of the land, thereby increasing environmental resilience and at the same time raise high quality, nutrient-dense food.”
Why North Canterbury? We initially moved to NZ 7 years ago, where I managed a vegetable farm in North Canterbury and we chose to stay in the area to start Jack’s Eggs.
What is your favourite thing to do in North Canterbury? We enjoy the coastal drive up to Kaikoura. Hanmer Springs is also a cool spot to visit.
Name your top three North Canterbury brands (other than your own of course!): Waipara Honey, Little Farm Goat Dairy, Saffer.