Family farming for the next generation

Charlie and Erin Douglas-Clifford enjoy raising their 
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Charlie and Erin Douglas-Clifford enjoy raising their children, George (7) and Lilly (4), on the family farm, Stonyhurst, in North Canterbury. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Farming for the environment is a way of life at Stonyhurst, in North Canterbury.

The Douglas-Clifford family have been farming at Stonyhurst, near Greta Valley, since 1850 and are focused on sustainability so the next generation can continue to farm.

"My kids are the seventh generation and that’s the ethos of how we farm," Charlie Douglas-Clifford said.

"We are the custodians of the land for the next generation. We try to keep it as a reasonably robust system that the land can manage and so we can navigate the environmental challenges."

Mr Douglas-Clifford recently joined Toitu Envirocare’s new farm carbon certification programme, which helps farmers take advantage of market opportunities for sustainable products.

"We were just in the right place at the right time and it’s another thing we can do to measure what we are doing and we have some accreditation to go with it," he said.

"It means you have to keep your information up to date and be prepared to go with it, but you’ve got nothing to lose."

Joining the programme allowed farmers to get ahead of the game, with carbon emissions management and certification set to become a standard requirement, he said.

“It will become part and parcel of what we do. It will be an expectation from the market and consumers.”

The Stonyhurst sheep, beef and deer farm won the supreme award in the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2017.

"We are fortunate that we won it when we did," Mr Douglas-Clifford said.

"I’ve been involved in judging the last couple of years and the standard of the candidates and the understanding of where they are at with their environmental reporting is increasing."

Mr Douglas-Clifford was responsible for the day-to-day operation but his father, John, and uncle, Peter, were still very much involved in the farm.

Stonyhurst was settled by Charles Clifford in 1850 to supply settlers in Christchurch.

Today, the family farms nearly 3000ha with about 10,000 merino-cross ewes, 400 head of cattle and up to 400 hinds.

 

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