(12 September 1999)
Rangiuru Farm, alongside central Norsewood, uses organic cow and goat milk to make more than 30 products.
Owners Simon and Marianna Domper have spent the last 15 years developing their organic Norsewood farm and turning the milk into sought-after products.
The couple came to New Zealand in 1981. Simon, an electronics engineer, worked as a biomedical engineer at Wellington Hospital. "But we had farming in mind when we came here and we leased a farm at Otaki, then one at Plimmerton to start making our cheese," he says.
His interest in cheese went back 30 years to when he sat in a pub with a friend and the two ate cheese with their beer.
"I reckoned I could make it, so I went home and tried," he says.
"If I had known how difficult it was I would never have started. The first batch was edible, the second one had to be thrown out."
"There wasn't much choice in New Zealand cheese at that stage and I liked farming and making cheese much more than being an electronic engineer."
So the couple moved onto their 18-hectare block at Norsewood and began the long process of building up herds of cows and goats.
Ailments such as footrot have been largely bred out of the goats, and some resistence to the internal parasites to which goats are prone has been bred in. The Dompers dose their goats with cider vinegar, garlic and alyssum.
"We have always had a commitment to organic farming. It is wider than just not using chemicals."
"It is looking at the whole picture, why things happen, when they happen and working out your solutions."
A stress-free environment was also important to animal health, although stress could not be completely eliminated.
"We try to find an animal suited to our environment,'' Mr Domper says.
"A healthy animal that provides two litres of milk might be better than one that provides four litres but needs constant attention."
"We are looking for quality not quantity, and that is probably where we differ most from conventional farming."
Most of the Dompers' 30 different dairy products are sold at the farm to a growing number of enthusiastic customers.
The rest goes to health shops, delicatessans and restaurants.
"Half our customers buy our products because they are organic," Mr Domper says. "The others buy them because they like good food."
"We sell everything we produce and we could sell more."
"If we wanted to get bigger we would have to mechanise -- then we would be the same as everyone else."
"Because we are on a small scale we can make something very special. We plan to stay the way we are, with a very small expansion, but we will not be changing the character."
"We make these products because of our belief in organic farming, not for the money, because there isn't any great fortune in it anyway."
this site: http://www.ecoglobe.org.nz/news1999/9109news.htm