A Wauchope family who have farmed here for four generations are delighted to have been considered for a major honour.
Chris Eggert from Oxhill Organics in Wauchope was nominated for Farmer of the Year at the Australian Organic Industry 2018 awards, and although he didn’t win, he says he was in great company, and believes organic is the way of the future.
Chris’s farm, which he runs with his wife and parents is situated just outside of Wauchope on the mid north coast of NSW. They produce organic milk, eggs, beef and compost.
Chris and his wife, Ann, have three sons, Lachie, Jimmy and Billy, who are keen to become the fifth generation on the farm.
Crop rotation, time control grazing and application of various inputs to create healthy soils, cows and chickens are the main driving forces behind the production of our organic products.
They milk approximately 180 to 200 cows of mixed breeds, producing 1.3 million litres of milk a year. In 2010, they started a new enterprise of organic pasture ranged egg production and now have approximately 2,500 chickens.
They are selling the beef direct which has been processed at a local abattoir and butcher.
The major focus of the farm’s operations is on recycling nutrients and improving the soil.
Instead of hosing down the yard every day, they put down hay to collect the cow manure and then turn this into compost to fertilise the farm, saving lots of water and turning a problem waste into an invaluable resource.
This means they can minimise external inputs and also minimise wastage of on-farm nutrients.
Chris said he was a bit embarrassed to be nominated for Australian Organic Farmer of the Year, although very pleased.
“I didn’t expect to make the final,” he said.
“There are a lot of really good farmers out there. We have been organic for 18 years, and I just think it’s a great way to farm.
“It’s different from what we were taught when we were growing up. You learn from other farmers, it’s good for the environment and makes us a healthier society by producing really good-quality food, not laden with chemicals,” said Chris.
“It improves the soils, the waterways and the air quality. It’s not always easy to get it right but it can be done. I think it’s the way of the future. We supply milk to Norco and they have been to the farm and now we’ve been nominated,” he added.
The industry is generating huge interest at the moment, with a 20% increase in demand for organic fruit and vegetables.