Glen Eden Farm

Diversity of income helping to grow family's own Eden

On the outskirts of Carterton six generations of the Guscott family have been tending to their own slice of Eden for over 100 years.

Mark Guscott, and his wife, Susannah took over the running of Glen Eden Farm from Mark’s parents six years ago and are kept very busy with a growing business and an expanding family.

The 800 hectare sheep, beef and cropping farm has grown from strength to strength under Mark’s business-minded management approach and has seen income grow by 30 percent since the 2007/08 season.

Mark says that their success rests in the diversity of income the farm now has; “with four or five income streams our eggs are no longer all in one basket,” he says.

“Up until 2007/08 we were a more traditional sheep and beef farm, but drought and then prices for sheep and beef took a battering and we made the decision to spread the risk more widely,” he says.
Glen Eden Farm’s resources of income are now varied: grazing sheep for other farmers, for meat companies and their own account; growing crops, including wheat, barley, peas and to lesser degree maize; leasing land for squash and onion seeds; and also growing grass for silage and baleage.

Mark says the farm already had suitable land and irrigation to support each of the new income streams so the main challenge was its management.  “I had to learn tricks – and still am – of the finer details of different farming activities.  I also had to develop business contacts, and get to know who the best people to deal with were.  The challenge was mostly in my head, getting the management right, learning to juggle everything at once and working out which technical skills I needed to pick up.”

Mark currently employs one full-time and one part-time worker to help with the running of the farm.  He also makes good use of a lot of casual employees and contractors. “The contractors usually come with their own gear so it makes better sense to use them than to get tied up in owning lots of gear myself,” he says. “I’ve learnt it’s important to use specialists for specialist jobs.”

Markhams has worked with Glen Eden Farm for three generations.  Alistair (Scotty) McLennan worked with Mark’s parents, Phillip and Jo Guscott, to put together a succession plan that saw them hand over the reins to the farm six years ago.  Today Mark still works with Scotty and also his manager Bridget Minehan.

With a BCom in Agriculture and Valuation from Lincoln and a background in banking, Mark says he appreciates the value of learning new and different skill sets and keeping himself challenged mentally, believing it is important to get off the farm for professional development opportunities.

This year Mark has taken on the role of technical manager for the Young Farmer of the Year grand finale, and is a past representative for Wairarapa in the competition himself.  Long-term Mark says he is always looking for opportunities for expansion and hopes to grow the farm income by a further 30 percent.

Published Autumn 2011.

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