There’s a journey involved in getting meat and produce from the farm to your plate, and at Pihi Farms, that journey is carefully nurtured every step of the way.
Located on the stunning eastern coastline of North Canterbury, in the hills above Manuka Bay, Pihi Farms is a small, diverse farm providing animal protein and selected produce in a truly natural and holistic way.
“Going beyond organic and sustainable, we farm in nature’s image to be regenerative to our landscape and nourish our community,” explains Pihi Farms owner Phil Varley. “Our quest is to produce the most nutrient dense and flavoursome food available in New Zealand whilst building the resiliency of our community.”
They do this by ensuring their lamb, beef and goat breeds are suited to the local climate, topography and forage. The animals are managed in a single mob throughout most of the year, grazing an organic, diverse forage base. Low stress animal handling techniques are used at all times, including the transfer of stock to the local abattoir, which the team carries out themselves.
“No two animals were created equal,” explains Phil. “From the careful handling to the seasonal forage base and the synergistic relationship with the land, our animal protein aims to capture each animals’ energy, time and place and allow their uniqueness to shine. This is meat with terroir.”
It’s a carefully managed process, and one that Pihi Farms is willing to share. “Our farm gate is open 24/7 for anyone to see for themselves what, how and why we do things the way we do. This allows us to be 100% customer certified.”
Pihi Farms also provides on-farm workshops to educate and demonstrate scalable regenerative land management practices for both animal and vegetable production.
Speaking of which, their small-scale vegetable production turns out some unusual specialty varieties which complement their local market gardeners. Think sorrel, globe and Jerusalem artichokes, yacon, taewa and tomatillos. All grown using permaculture principles, fertilised with on-farm manure and seaweed harvested from local beaches.
For Pihi Farms, it’s not just about production – it’s about cultivating the connection and capturing the journey, from the land to the community and into the future.
Why North Canterbury? We are blessed with a bioregion that allows us to eat almost our entire diet from local, seasonal produce of such diversity. I can’t think of anywhere in the world we’d have the same variety in such a small area. We are outdoors people and there are so many accessible activities on our doorstop here from surfing to skiing, mountain biking to kayaking, fishing to tramping, the only hard part is finding time to do all the things on offer.
What’s your favourite thing to do in North Canterbury? It’s pretty hard to beat a surf at Gore Bay on a summer’s evening when it’s working.
Name your top three North Canterbury brands (apart from your own, of course!): There are so many awesome producers in the region doing really special things so its hard to pick just 3! But ones that really stand out for us are;
Manuka Bay Honey – we share very similar values, the most caring and intelligent team I have ever met, and their seasonal honeys are out of this world.
Jack’s Eggs – we need more people producing eggs like this family, with both the animal’s and environment’s health in mind.
Black Estate – if we are ever going to celebrate a special occasion, I’ll be reaching for a bottle of their Netherwood Pinot.