Expanding into a land of eggs and honey

Taieri sheep and beef farmers Josh and Ellie Adam have added beekeeping and hens to their farming...
Taieri sheep and beef farmers Josh and Ellie Adam have added beekeeping and hens to their farming income. Eldest child Archie (2) is an enthusiastic helper while Millie (3 months) is still a little young. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Josh and Ellie Adam are getting to grips with the birds and the bees.

The young Taieri farming couple have ventured into producing free-range eggs and clover honey in what started as a hobby but is quickly escalating into a business.

Old Road Honey and Eggs had its origins three years ago when Mr Adam decided that bees were ‘‘pretty cool’’ and did a beekeeping course.

He started with one hive on the family farm and the hobby had grown to 60 hives.

It was a learning curve for the farmer who went out with a couple of beekeepers, gave them a hand and asked lots of questions. He was still learning — and still asking questions, he said.

The hives are situated both on the Taieri and at Middlemarch, and the couple’s clover honey sold out in three months from a roadside stall near Henley.

Mr Adam, who was hoping to get to several hundred hives, said the pollination it brought also fitted in well with farming.

In May, the couple ventured into free-range hens, having decided eggs would be a good accompaniment to the honey.

With the help of a friend they built a shed, and ordered 50 chooks. They sold out in five days and none of the eggs even made it to the stall.

Next, Mr Adam decided to buy a ‘‘proper shed’’ that he could tow around the farm paddocks. About a month ago, they bought a shed which included a conveyor belt, lights and a watering system, and 100 more chooks. Mr Adam was now looking to order about 250 more hens and another shed.

The chooks were genuinely free-range; there were no fences keeping them in and some could be found three or four paddocks away, or in native bush.

Although Mr Adam did not know much about hens, he was grateful for the advice from Matt Adams and Casey Elstob who have a free-range egg business, Brightview Eggs, at Wairio, in Southland.

Mr and Mrs Adam had completed their risk management programme which meant they were able to supply the likes of cafes, restaurants and markets, which provided more options as the business grew.

Farming was still Mr Adam’s main job — ‘‘and I don’t want to leave that’’ — and eventually the honey and hens would just be incorporated into the farming operation and all run as one, although it was likely they would need some help.

In the meantime, Mrs Adam did ‘‘the egg thing’’, making deliveries every Monday around Dunedin, Mosgiel and Waihola. Given there were 700 eggs in the last delivery, they might need a bigger car soon, her husband quipped. Son Archie enjoyed getting out on the farm and cleaning the eggs.

While an egg business was a tie, as the eggs had to be collected every day, it was very rewarding.

He attributed the popularity to a renewed interest in people wanting to shop local.

‘‘It’s just crazy how it’s escalated, it’s escalating into a business. It’s going to turn into something quite big I’d imagine,’’ he said.

The couple were considering milk deliveries — ‘‘the old-fashioned milkman’’ — in the future and Mrs Adam was also keen on an on-farm produce shop.

sally.rae@odt.co.nz

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