We were intrigued to hear about vegan dairy farmers in Reefton that are transitioning over to hemp farming. They are selling their hemp products online at Larrys Gold. We thought this would make a fascinating interview topic, so here are Sarah’s replies to our questions.
What Are You Aiming To Achieve With Larrys Gold?
Larrys Gold was born after a couple of years of brainstorming. Our aim is to produce high quality hemp products straight from the farm, grown to high standards and 100% vegan.
What Made You Decide To Move Away from Dairy Farming?
We first discovered plant based eating for our health, straight away we noticed a huge difference to our health and fitness. As time went on the ethical side of it dawned on us and given we no longer consume those products for ourselves it was time to start the wheels in motion for a more sustainable future.
What Was The Turning Point That Made You More Compassionate Towards Your Cows?
Aaron was raised on this farm and has always believed he was compassionate towards his cows from day 1. In 2003 he switched to milking cows once a day. Since becoming parents for the first time last year it has ignited that fire within us to work as hard as we can to get our hemp business growing to a point where we no longer have to dairy farm.
Do You Have Any Interesting Anecdotes About Your Cows?
A large number of them like a cuddle and/or scratch before walking in to the cow shed.
Is There Something That Many People Don’t Know About Cows That You’d Like To Share?
They mourn for their babies (calves) just like humans do when they lose them.
How Has The Farming Community Reacted To You Now Being Vegan Dairy Farmers?
A lot of the community that we belong to know we are but we don’t really discuss it with them. We just do our own thing.
Do You Have Any Thoughts On How Banks Are Influencing Dairy Farming Practices In New Zealand?
That is a difficult question to answer. Because livestock farming has somewhat been the backbone of NZ exports banks up until recent times have been happy to loan money. What we find difficult now is that due to the global decline in animal product consumption (the industry won’t tell you it is but it is obvious with the rise of veganism) the pay out has dropped but the debt is still there.
Because we are transitioning to a new industry (the bank does not understand the industry and it is still new so hard to forecast revenue) we have to sadly remain in farming until our hemp business takes off. This is a family farm so it is not as simple as selling up! We want to turn this farm into a more sustainable business that will still be going when we are no longer here but our children are.
What Do Dairy Farmers Not Want The General Public To Know?
We can’t really answer that question as we would be speaking on behalf of other farmer’s. I don’t think it is about not wanting the public to know but I guess the general public (in the cities) may not understand what actually goes in to producing the milk for their daily (in most cases more than daily) coffee.
Mother’s are impregnated year after year, their babies are taken from them (sometimes within minutes of being born) and then they are milked daily (in most cases twice) and then 3 months later are impregnated again. This cycle then continues until the mother no longer gets in calf or they are no longer quality producers of milk to which they are then sent to the works.
Where Do You See The Future Of Hemp Farming Going In New Zealand?
Hopefully it will go forward – this is all dependent on the NZ Government and how much they let us utilise the hemp plant.
What Do You Enjoy About Hemp Farming?
EVERYTHING! Just being in the hemp field and around the plant just gives you an amazing buzz. You cannot get high from it but just knowing that this plant can literally save the planet gives us the passion and drive to succeed in this industry. You name it and it can be made from Hemp.
Our country is running around promoting this “clean, green, zero carbon”, image deciding how we can “clean up” the dairy industry when the answer can be found in Hemp!
Just read this article and wanted to say good on you – heart warming x
Excellent! Well done and best of luck to you!