vagabond vege logo. Linocut vegetables in olive.

Elle Farr

Elle most recently worked at Kaitake Farm in Taranaki, fully realising her passion for all things growing! With a background in design and environmental planning, Elle is the Vagabond logo crafter, a keen farm planner and novice entomologist (loves a bug!). Elle is interested in how to work with beneficial plants and insects to see more life flourish on the farm.

Lise Van Laere

Lise most recently worked as assistant manager at the Hopper refill shop, a zero waste hub and community space. She helped coordinate the Seeds to Feeds Community Food Festival in Wellington in 2020/21, and was on the board of the Berhampore-Island Bay Community Orchard. Pursuing her passion for music, Lise is also learning how to repair stringed instruments part-time. She is interested in herbology and looking into traditional methods of drying, preserving and processing produce.

Saskia Wanklyn

Saskia has a background in Community Development, previously working at community centres in Wellington, including managing a community garden. She also set up and coordinated Newtown Crop Swap. Though passionate about producing food, Saskia has a soft spot for flowers and is excited to work with blooms on the farm.

Sheldon Levet

Sheldon was a founding member of Kaicycle Urban Farm in Wellington where he managed the farm and established community composting systems across the city. He takes the lead on early morning silliness at the farm. Sheldon is interested in fungal systems and how animals can be used within the market garden to better harmonise food producing landscapes.

To us, regenerative means farming in a way that improves the resources it uses, rather than destroying or depleting them. This is not a textbook process, but rather a practice rooted in our context and conditions. Ecosystems are an evolving spiral, requiring continuous learning and observation by the grower to contribute positively to its growth.

Healthy soil full of life is the starting point for growing healthy produce. Regeneratively managed landscapes can act as carbon sinks and retain more rainwater by restoring the natural cycles of carbon, water, and nitrogen.

For us, this looks like:

  1. No-till horticulture, causing minimal disturbance to the soil so life can thrive
  2. The removal of chemical and synthetic inputs to allow the natural fertilisers of soil (microbes and worms) to form relationships with plant roots
  3. Dense and diverse plantings to enhance beneficial fungi, bacteria and insect life in our soils

Farming in a changing climate, where droughts and larger storm events will occur more frequently, these practices are more important than ever to create resilience.

There are three main reasons why we have decided to farm in a collective manner:

The main barriers to beginning a farm are generally access to land, finance and expertise. By coming together under a shared vision we have been able to significantly reduce those barriers and made it possible to start farming and producing food at scale.

We all love being outside, working with plants and animals, and doing what is necessary to produce food. However, we realise that having the ability to leave the farm, take holidays and make commitments to friends and family is important for a more balanced and fulfilling life. As an owner-worker collective we have the ability to provide each other with time off - something that most farmers are not fortunate enough to have.

We don't believe competition results in the best outcomes for businesses, particularly for small food producers. Along with our internal collaboration, we believe that through collaborating with other growers and producers we can form mutually benefical relationships that can support and enhance each other's work.

The history is far from complete, we will continue to update as we learn more. We would greatly appreciate any knowledge you would like to share.

This land is in the rohe (area) of Ngāti Kahungunu and Rangitāne o Wairarapa.

By 1600, Rangitāne and then Ngāti Kahungunu had settled in the Wairarapa. Although periods of conflict saw disputes between the two iwi and surrounding iwi groups, on the whole, they have coexisted peacefully in the region.

We are grateful to both iwi for the resources they have provided on their websites, which has allowed us to begin our journey. We intend to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the work that we do.

Te Hupenui is one of the old names of the area near where the town known as Greytown is located today. Greytown was established after land was said to have been bought by the Small Farms Association with the support of Governor George Grey in 1853. The Small Farms Association was formed in 1853 as the demand from working class settlers for farming land grew.

The land we are working with today lies just west of Te Hupenui and was part of a large farming lot known as ‘Riverside Estate’ resting on old river terraces of the Waiohine river, below the Tararua Ranges.

The cottage as it was around 1900, with sheep grazing in fields which is now the driveway. Credit: Montgomerie Family. The cottage as it was around 1900, with sheep grazing in fields which is now the driveway. Credit: Montgomerie Family.

Riverside Estate was owned by Pierce Cotter – this included ‘Cotterville’ which was established to house farm workers (today this is Cotter & Pierce Streets, Greytown). It also includes the land to the west towards Woodside and south towards Tauherenikau and Moroa. Along with shearing sheep, the story goes that the woolshed on the property once was working as a flax mill, used by the Cotter's who unsuccessfully attempted to grow and mill flax on the land.

The Montgomerie boy's (Roy, Ted and Tom) in their scout uniforms. In the background is Adam Montgomerie and the cottage. Circa 1912. Credit: Montgomerie Family. The Montgomerie boy's (Roy, Ted and Tom) in their scout uniforms. In the background is Adam Montgomerie and the cottage. Circa 1912. Credit: Montgomerie Family.

After early subdivision of this land, the Montgomerie family purchased 172 acres which included the land we call home today. Harold Montgomerie was very passionate about the native trees on the property and the family ensured that various areas of native bush were protected by covenants with the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust prior to the land being sold in the 1990s.

Neil and Greg Montgomerie-Crowe continue to live in the area and we are very grateful for the information they have shared with us on their ancestors and the history of this land.

The land we farm today is a seven acre plot remaining from the subdivision of Riverside Estate. It holds the original farm cottage in which we live, the stables and the woolshed that date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Finally, the land was purchased in September 2014 by Justin Connor who’s keen to see a forever food place where people feel grounded, connected and inspired about the future. We are grateful for Justin for walking along side us as our friend and land owner.

Nestled between small groves of Tōtara, Pine and Eucalyptus, this stretch of land was once a braided riverbed. In the process of preparing the soil to form garden beds, we are removing tonnes of river stones from the top soil. We do this with the intention of honouring the history and ancestors of this land by helping it flourish into the future.