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Farmers Gather for First Field Day at Sea

Farmers Gather for First Field Day at Sea

Farmers took to the water recently to learn about the entrepreneurial drive of Clearwater Mussels director John Young and how his principles can equally apply to land-based farming.

As aquaculture entrepreneurs, Clearwater Mussels was joint winner of the 2015 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year Competition (with Omarama Station), it was the first ever winner’s field day held at sea.

Three boatloads of field day attendees (approx. 200 people) left Havelock Marina and motored into the Kekeperu Sound to see greenshell mussel harvesters and seeders at work, and learn about what a marine farming business did to make it a competition winner.

Chairman of the Lincoln University Foundation Ben Todhunter said that business and economics researcher and executive, Dr Amanda Lynn, summed up the day when she spoke about what top entrepreneurs like John Young – who was interviewed for her research into entrepreneurialism – have in common.

“Dr Lynn said that what drives entrepreneurs is a sense of wanting to feel valuable, to themselves, their family, their business and community,” Todhunter said. “We saw that attitude in John throughout the field day from his opening comments on how the mussel industry had supported the survival and growth of Havelock, to his excitement at the personal growth of his staff, and the positive place the industry has in the Marlborough Sounds.”

John Young himself referred to the parallels between marine and land-based farming.

“In the end, Young said “it was about feeding grass (or in his case marine algae, phytoplankton and other nutrients) to animals so they could turn it into protein for people to eat.”

“Many of our issues are the same. We rely on the weather, a huge factor we cannot control; we have to work in all seasons; we have to compete against other protein producers here and overseas; and, to succeed, we have to be at the top of our game.”

Young noted that, as it is for land farmers, environmental issues, staff performance and development, resource management and a close working relationship with the end customer were all essential.

He spoke passionately about the Marlborough Sounds environment and his belief that Clearwater had to play a role in managing and protecting it. But he was also critical of those elements that were anti-development in the Sounds.

Business, recreation, and the environment could be mutually beneficial partners; the wellbeing of one did not have to be at the expense of another,” Young said.

“The ‘lock it up and don’t change it’ mentality is harmful to the growth of business, people, and communities in Marlborough. Environmental targets can be best achieved working with business, not by trying to shut them out of the equation.”


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